Wales’ World No.9 Joel Makin prevailed in a tough fixture against Spain’s former World No.5 Borja Golan to reach the second round of the CIB Black Ball Open by a 10-12, 11-6, 11-9, 11-2 scoreline.
It was the experienced Spaniard who got off to a flying start, finding his corners well in the opening exchanges to hold six game balls. That seemed to be the push Makin needed to get into the swing of things as he became more clinical at the front of the court to save all six attempts. Fortunately for Golan, he was able to take the crucial points in the tie-break to eventually get his one game lead.
JoelMakin</a>'s speed is something else! <br><br>The Golden Tiger almost pulling off a double dive in Cairo! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BlackBallOpen?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BlackBallOpen</a> <a href="https://t.co/Uj8J828JCS">pic.twitter.com/Uj8J828JCS</a></p>— PSA World Tour (PSAWorldTour) December 14, 2020
The strong finish from the Welshman in the first seemed to spur him on in the second as he adapted his tactics well to deal with Golan and comfortably draw level. The third continued to see the two players challenging one another with Golan able to come back from 8-4 down to draw level at 9-9 but it was Makin, who stepped up to convert.
The fifth was all one-way traffic as Makin powered to the finish line to see out the victory in 67 minutes and will face former World No.1 James Willstrop for a place in the quarter finals.
“You could see what Borja was doing straight away,” said Makin.
“He was switching it so well, he gets the height and then he cuts across you with the kills and he got the two wall boast and kept going in. You have to keep defending off it until you start to read it a bit better. He’s always hard to play.
“He definitely expresses himself, he charges around and then he’s screaming at himself for an error and it can be early on in a game. That’s the way he does it and it’s good to have different characters like that. He’s very expressive in the way he does things, he’s got some good options on the ball and he threatens stuff – it’s good to watch.
“It’s my squash that makes a difference, if I’m hitting the ball well and taking it in well then I can compete well against the best guys. It was scrappy today and I wasn’t quite right, but you’ve got to find a way there. I just had to hit my back corners and get the intensity up, fight more – I had to get myself back up in front and compete.”
Golan added: “It’s not so much a question of fitness, it’s more a mental fitness against those guys. You are nicely battling away and within a few seconds, you find yourself 7-3 down.
“Joel is going up every month, he is threatening the top four, his squash is quality. And sometimes, you don’t know what is going on on court. In the first game, I was up 10-4, playing at my slow pace, and no idea how we got to 10-10.
“I had my chances, I even dominated the match at some point, but the problem is to maintain the mental consistency. Maybe because I don’t get to play at that level often enough.”
 Joel Makin (WAL) bt Borja Golan (ESP) 3-1: 10-12, 11-6, 11-9, 11-2 (67m)