World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy advanced to the semi-finals of the inaugural men’s Manchester Open after battling past the dangerous Welshman Joel Makin in four games.
ElShorbagy had won two of their three PSA World Tour matches coming into today’s encounter and was on fire in the opening two games as ‘The Beast’ played a frenetic pace and put Makin under constant pressure.
If you are looking for a two-minute rally, with the ball going into all four corners, and both players making some unbelievable retrievals, then you're in for a treat
Complete control from
MoElshorbagy</a> at the moment!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SquashIsBack?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SquashIsBack</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MCROpen?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MCROpen</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MCRactive?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MCRactive</a> <a href="https://t.co/Spm0oU7kKK">pic.twitter.com/Spm0oU7kKK</a></p>— PSA World Tour (PSAWorldTour) September 20, 2020
But Makin finally broke free of his shackles in the third and managed to exert pressure of his own against his previously unassailable opponent. Makin hit some superb cross court nicks at the business end of the game to claw a game back and send the match into a fourth.
There were some brief moments of worry for ElShorbagy when Makin then picked up where he left off in the third game, but the Egyptian is one of the most mentally tough players on the PSA World Tour and he kept his focus to see out the win.
He will take on World No.5 Paul Coll in the semi-finals and will look to gain revenge after he suffered his first ever defeat to the Kiwi at the Windy City Open back in March.
“I think the key in this one was the end of the second when I was 8-2 up,” said ElShorbagy.
“I lost focus, he came back and took three points and he was full of hunger afterwards. Before that I was controlling him and once you give Joel a bit of an opportunity he is going to take it and that’s the mistake I made in this match. You always talk about learning from losing but you have to learn from winning too.
“Even though I won today I made a few mistakes. I’m happy to win and I’m proud of that fourth game because I was up 8-5 in the third and then I lost a bit of focus and he came back and took six points in a row. In the fourth I had to be quite tough mentally in that game.
“I feel like I’m getting better every day, I think this was the perfect match for me. It’s always great to finish every match in three, but sometimes you need to be tested physically and mentally. When you’re away for a very long time you need that kind of test at the beginning of the season so you can see if you can apply the things you worked on in the summer to a tournament.
“Credit to Joel, I always make the opponent feel that it's a mountain to climb to be 2-0 down against me, it’s not very easy to come back in that third game the way he did. We’ve trained a lot together this summer, you could train with either your household or the people in your bubble and we created our own bubble this summer and trained a lot together this summer. “
The respect ElShorbagy has for Makin is evident, with the Egyptian going on to say: “I’ve always had a training partner which was my brother, but now he is in Egypt so Joel is actually the first training partner I’ve had apart from my brother. We get along really well and we have so much respect for each other.
“He inspires me actually, most of us were good juniors but Paul [Coll] and Joel were not really good juniors, nobody knew about them, and to be able to work that hard and to be able to compete at the top level the way they do, it’s two of the most inspiring stories on tour.”
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt  Joel Makin (WAL) 3-1: 11-4, 11-7, 8-11, 11-7 (69m)