R2: Joel had to push hard today…

[7] Joel Makin (Wal) 3-0 Saurav Ghosal (Ind)  11-6, 11-8, 11-4 (43m)

The score is a liar. You look at it and it says “Joel controlled the match easily”. The heck he did!

Yes, it’s a three love. But apart from the last part of the third, the Welsh Viking had to work like a lunatic to keep the Indian under wrap! The rallies were long, intense, and especially in the second game, Joel had to cover a lot of ground to retrieve the lovely tricky shots that Saurav kept throwing at him.

First game was 12m, 10/4, 11/6, one error each. The second 16m, and close up to 7/7, a great battle where the ball never stopped and rest quietly. The spectators were going hooooo and haaaaaaa, and it was a great clean match, in front of a knowledgable crowd.

The Indian finally got tired from 3/5 in the third, but if you ask Joel, he’ll tell you he never really relaxed until the Fat Lady sung…

Saurav : Obviousy, I’m not happy, because I lost. If I was happy there would be something wrong with me.

I don’t think I did a lot of things wrong, but it’s a combination of Joel being very confident right now, he is playing extremely well, all credit to him, I know he pushed through the crucial parts really well, and even if he lost a few points when he was under pressure, he still managed to stay with it, and find something to win points with, again, all credit to him.

I’m not going to say my short game was bad, but maybe there was a few shot selection – even though the quality of the shots was good – it wasn’t the right time to play it. And at this level, it’s about small details, finding the right time to play the right shot in the right space. It’s not about purely execution.

With someone like Joel, he is going to get a lot of the balls back, you need to be patient, it’s easy to get caught up and say oh no, I can’t stay with him, but I know I can, physically I’m fine, I didn’t have a problem the whole match.

He made better decisions on certain points, he executed better when he needed to, especially around the middle on the volley. He hits some good shots on crucial points, and took it away from me.

Winning the second was huge for him I think, going in 1/1 would have been a completely different story. He was pushing really hard. But like I said, I don’t think I did much wrong, it’s all about fine lines, with me losing that match 3/0 or going into another set up, 1/1 and then, who knows.

I have to put those things together, keep working at it, and hopefully, things will come together for me. Again, Joel was too strong today, I wish him all the best, he is playing very very well, he’s worked pretty hard, and I’m really happy for him. It was a good clean match, hopefully, I’ll play better next time and win!

Joel : “Saurav has been in the top 16 for 10, 15 years now. You know what quality he is going to bring, he’s got world-class skills, he really does have great touches, using height and he was making things difficult for me even though it was 3-0.

“It was very intense, in the middle of the second, it was really hard. You know I came straight for Calgary, straight to BlackBall, brutal matches, then Canary Wharf, the same, it’s really adding up now.

“I actually put a ton of effort today, some people might have thought oh he’s going to be ok, no disrespect to Saurav at all, as I really rate Saurav. But I was tired after last week, you just drain your body so today mentally I was onto myself all the time. It might have not looked very hard, but I was pushing myself up a ton.

And I was really happy with where my squash was, because I was initialising quite a lot more than I play normally. I took the chances when they were there. I knew I had to get off tonight, and I’ve got two days before the next match, a lot of time to recover.

It’s mental that season is, everybody is tired, everybody’s hurt physically… And today there were two and a half really hard games, towards the end I got like a little gap, and I pushed and I distanciated myself. Because mentally, if you are two up and 7/3, the match could be over soon.

I rate Saurav’s skills very highly, his ball control is as good as anyone, his straight line, his switching heights, he is physically very hard to play, he is cutting across and playing diagonal, and even if he isn’t hitting the ball hard, the distance you are covering is huge as the ball is over THERE….

It was a big push but I enjoyed that match, free flowing, just good squash there, I so enjoyed it, I like playing at home, when everyone is around, and I think that’s the way the Egyptians feel when they are playing at home.

“For two glass courts (here and CW), they couldn’t be more different. At Canary Wharf, the front wall is so fast, the rallies are really long. Here, though, the front wall takes all the pace out of the ball so you really have to take the first short ball in.

“It dies off, and if you get a chance, you have to initiate and be a bit more attacking. I am happy to back up after last week. It is not easy coming with a few days in between, and I know how good Saurav is.”

More to come