British No1 squash player Joel Makin is hoping to go all the way at this year’s Canary Wharf Classic when he plays his opening match against Saurav Ghosal tonight.
The 27-year-old Welshman will be playing his 100th senior tournament after a solid series of results in recent months that has seen him reach the final four on multiple occasions.
“I’m really hoping I could do a bit better this week, a win here at home would be massive for me,” said Makin.
“There’s a tough few matches before then, I’m seeded to meet Paul Coll in the quarter-finals, which is a big match for both of us, actually.
“He’s looking to close down the gap for world No1, he’ll go to No2 next month, and that’ll mean me closing the gap between the group above me.
“I’m nine at the moment and should be going towards eight or seven. It is a big match for both of us, and it’s exciting.”
Before any quarter final bout, however, fifth seed Makin must overcome Indian Ghosal.
“Saurav is particularly dangerous, because he’s extremely skilful, he’s probably got that top top level skill,” Makin said.
“Because of his size, he’s had to work out different ways of playing and he’s got a bit of a different game. He’s got a lot of subtlety and a lot of ball control.
“I’m going to have to bring a lot of pace and intensity around the middle and not allow him to slow the ball and be tricky, which he’s very capable of doing.
“These guys are really dangerous in best of three. Best of five games gives you a chance to break a lot of players down a little bit more, which I prefer to do.
“But this is not that kind of situation, it will be a lot more tricky.”
British bounce back?
The Canary Wharf Classic is into its 18th edition, and continues to draw in the crowds.
A Briton hasn’t lifted the Classic title since 2017, when Englishman Nick Matthew beat Egyptian Fares Dessouky.
“There’s been a bit of a gap over the last couple of years,” he added. “British squash has always had those highly ranked players and I think a couple of months ago was the first time England didn’t have a top 20 player.
“The record had been going for ages. So they’ve always had the likes of Nick Matthew and James Willstrop [who won on Sunday]. These kind of guys have been, you know, dominating the game.
“There’s a bit of a gap at the moment. So I’d certainly like to be like that over the next couple years for sure.”
The Classic has sold out for all but one session, and the capacity crowds have in the past given British hopefuls an extra edge.
“In the last couple of events, I have been showing signs that I can win one of these big ones and it’d be great to win one here for sure,” Makin said.
“People are attacking more earlier on in the games and, with the crowds there, everyone gets into it. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a few big matchups this week.”
Makin a mark
As a proud Welshman, Makin’s aim is to be part of the Commonwealth team when the Games are held in Birmingham next year.
“I think the big one is the Commonwealth Games,” he continued. “That’s the time when we really get that TV coverage, where it’s a little bit different, because you’re actually on TV from the first couple of rounds.
“People really see what squash is about a bit more.
“There’s obviously the frustration about the Olympics, but we’ve got the World Championships where everyone in the sport can play while the Egyptians won’t be at the Commonwealths. So it’ll be a slightly different dynamic.”
The Classic continues this week with the final on Friday at East Wintergarden, Canary Wharf.