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CIB Black Ball Open RD2: Makin Sees off Willstrop in Five

Wales’ World No.9 Joel Makin is through to the quarter finals of the CIB Black Ball Open after a thrilling 11-7, 8-11, 7-11, 12-10, 11-9 victory over former World No.1 James Willstrop.

The two players have faced each other twice already this year with each player taking one victory apiece. Their last meeting came in October’s CIB Egyptian Open where 37-year-old Willstrop reigned victorious in five-games, however, this time it was Makin’s turn to convert with a showstopping performance from both players.

Makin started well, looking physically strong to go one game up. However, that physicality was soon put to the test by Willstrop as he varied his attacking shot selection to take control and force the Welshman to cover all four corners of the court in the following two games as he went 2-1 up.

A request to change the ball at the end of the third by Makin breathed new life into his game as he showed his incredible effort, particularly emphasised by his incredible triple dive attempt as he drew level.

With the finish line in sight, Makin found himself four game balls up before Willstrop executed three perfect rallies to look as though he was going to force the tie-break, but a stroke decision allowed Makin to breathe a sigh of relief as he snuck out the thrilling second round clash.

Makin will face either Tarek Momen or Mazen Hesham in the quarter finals.

“I had to put my body on the line,” said Makin to the SquashTV cameras afterwards.

“The accuracy wasn’t there, or that’s what it feels like against James, covering so much of the court from the first point straight through to the last basically. I just had to keep fighting, trying to keep the intensity in it and take my chances when I got them, even though there was few of them. I worked hard for that definitely.

“He was just leaving the ball so short and deep, the purchase he was getting on the ball once it softened up and the quality was a joke. If there was a bit more bounce in it then I had chance to get a few more balls back. Just hard all the way through.

“I got 10-6 up and then he put three perfect rallies together. Hit his back corners perfectly and then followed up with a straight drop, I couldn’t get near.

“I’ve got through to mostly quarter finals and a couple of semis this year – I need to push on from here really. I’ve done well against Tarek before, lost in five tight in Qatar, so I just need to get my body recovered and get stuck in tomorrow.”

[7] Joel Makin (WAL) bt [15] James Willstrop (ENG) 3-2: 11-7, 8-11, 7-11, 12-10, 11-9 (80m)

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