Joel Makin (WAL) 3-1  Paul Coll (NZL) 11-9, 8-11, 13-11, 11-8 (90m)
If the PSA stats show a 10/2 ratio victory for the New Zealander, SquashInfo shows a 12/2 for Paul, with a very significant match, their last meeting in the Commonwealth Games Final, won by Superman, 11/7 in the 5th, 102m match…
As it was the start of the day (well, only one match before), I have to say I was not that keen on them playing the same length, to be honest. And sorry boys, but sometimes, you two can get the rallies going slightly forever…
The first game allowed me to type my first report about Joelle/Nada quite nicely, as it lasted 25 minutes… Paul was in control at the start, 2/0, 4/2, 7/4. Gruelling rallies, the ball bouncing a lot, and slowly, the Golden Tiger starting to make his mark on the match, coming from 4/7 to 10/8 in two hands! Paul saved a game ball but the Welsh closes down the opener, 11/9.
The second looks a lot like the first one score-wise, but Joel doesn’t seem as physically in control. He goes for a few shortcuts but starts to really pressure his opponent, reading his game well, and anticipating 4 out of 5 of Superman’s shots quite successfully.
9/6, 10/7, 11/8 in 17m. Yes, Joel is a bit tired. But Paul has given him 4 points. That doesn’t happen often.
The third is soooo crucial. 29m. I kid you not. Of faster and faster squash. And longer and longer rallies. Of more and more ridiculous squash as the match goes along.
4/1, 5/2 Paul in charge, but Joel manages to string a few points, 5/5, 6/6, and overtakes Superman, 8/6, 9/7. Joel takes a little break to wipe his hands with the towel and gets warned for time wasting.
Joel sets up two game balls, but three points for Paul, 11/10, game ball New Zealand. A few calls at that point, Paul is attacking, attacking but Joel has got all the answers, and with a stroke, the Welsh saves that game ball, 11/11. A no let for the New Zealander, and finally, Joel clinches the crucial game 13/11 on his third attempt.
In that 29m game, Paul made two errors. Joel, none.
We are in the 4th game, and it’s a great start for Superman, 3/0, who seems to have upped the pace. Quickly, we are back at 3/3. Paul still has his nose in front.
‘Surely this is going to 5 methinks.’ 5/3. 6/4. Joel is reading Paul better and better. 6/6. Paul ahead again, 8/6. Not for long, as the Golden Tiger scores the next 5 points, dedicating his victory to the ref – with who he had a few nice exchanges during the match, telling him how much he enjoyed each and every decision he made…
🗣 "This is beyond crazy now!"
— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) March 3, 2023
— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) March 3, 2023
“I know I can beat these guys and I knew what I had to do, I had to expose that technique, pin him back in the forehand side, keep peppering it and working it and I knew I was going to get those errors.
“If my body is right and I’m feeling good physically, I can beat any of these guys.
“I was wired for that today and I wanted that. The resilience was there and my squash is getting tighter, I’m working on it all the time. I’m not interested in settling for these early round exits, I want to be in the later stages.
“Paul has a specificity others don’t have. His movement patterns are so grooved, he is so smooth, and he doesn’t really get disrupted out of his patterns. The only way you are going to do it is follow up. You are going to have to put shots together and you have to movement- shot – follow up cross, or anticipate and put two things together, break down that movement pattern, then you can expose him side ways and get him off balance.
“If you are going straight lines, drop, lob, down the wall, it’s not going to be enough. Of course, you have to do that, because that’s squash but then again, the way you are going to open up a few gaps is a quick trip and a follow up.
“The margins are tiny at that level, I was not far off during our final at the CWG, a few points here and there. You know, I have worked hard, I studied these guys, and I’ve followed him, I read his patterns over and over again, and I keep watching it because I’m not happy where I am at the moment [ranking wise].
I really dug in hard there, I was injecting all the pace, I was initiating everything, that’s hard physically, I was following up, pressing the whole time, so an 90m match where you inject all the pace, you have to have a ton of physicality to go into those reserves, over and over.
“Seb had a good win yesterday against Abdulla. He’s getting very solid and he’s part of that French group that are coming through and they’re dangerous. Marwan has had probably one of the best seasons of his career, he’s been very impressive with his lines, his accuracy and his intensity. Either of those guys will be good, but if my squash is good I can beat any of them.”