Semifinal recap from Squash Emcee Andy Taylor, Voice of the Qatar Classic.
Since 2017, Andy Taylor has been the voice of the Qatar Classic Squash Championship. With his individual style and delivery, Andy writes and narrates each player’s introduction; highlighting career accomplishments, providing context for fans before each match. As tournament emcee, Andy also interviews the winners and hosts the trophy ceremony at the conclusion of the championship.
A voice acting veteran, Andy is best known as the Voice of the US Open in New York. There, he has spent the last 20-years shaping the sound of the tennis season’s final Grand Slam; enhancing the fan experience. Informing. Entertaining. Celebrating sport and its colorful cast of characters.
Diego’s best squash of the week. Becomes Platinum Finalist for the first time.
Makin vs Elias | Match Context
Fans, just 17-days-ago, both of these remarkable talents were Semifinalists at the US Open in Philadelphia; and for the first time in their careers – both have reached the Final-4 in back-to-back PSA Platinum events. And with their victories yesterday, both are now 4-time Platinum Semifinalists. But tonight, there can be only one victor – and that winner, will advance to the championship match of Major for the first time.
 Diego Elias -08- (PER) | Semifinal Emcee Introduction
He is the #6-seed, and is one of the sport’s greatest talents ever to emerge from South America. 18-days-ago, he defeated World #2 Mohamed Elshorbagy at the US Open; and tonight – is back in the Final-4 of the Qatar Q-Terminals Classic for a second time. Ranked as high as World #6 – since cracking the PSA’s top-10 in 2018, he has remained one of the top-10 talents in the world for 33 consecutive months. And this week in Doha, it hasn’t been easy – But after 5-game wins over Declan James and Gregoire Marche, he found his rhythm yesterday in the Quarters – dispatching Raphael Kandra in four. Ready to do whatever it takes, battling for a spot in his first Major Final. From Peru – the Peruvian Puma, Diego Elias.
- SF — W —  Joel Makin -09- (WAL) | Score: 11-5, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7 (70m)
- QF — W — Raphael Kandra -22- (GER) | Score: 11-9, 8-11, 14-12, 11-1 (63m) | RECAP
- R3 — W — Gregoire Marche -12- (FRA) | Score: 5-11, 8-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-4 (73m) | RECAP
- R2 — W — Declan James -28- (ENG) | Score: 10-12, 11-6, 9-11, 11-0, 11-8 (67m) | RECAP
- R1 — BYE
- This was Elias’ 4th Platinum Semifinal – Advances to his first career Platinum Final
- Diego’s first win over Mohamed Elshorbagy happened on this court 3-years-ago. The victory propelled the Peruvian Puma to his first Platinum Semifinal, where he fell to Simon Rösner
- Since then, Diego has reached two more Platinum Semifinals in Philadelphia – at the 2019 and 2021 US Opens
- After missing five months last season, following his loss to Fares Dessouky in Cairo at the PSA Gold Black Ball Open; Diego reached the Quarters at the World Championship in Chicago. Won his 3rd PSA Silver title at the Manchester Open (defeated Joel Makin). And finished the season with a Quarterfinal run at the British Open
- In all, Diego now owns 8 PSA titles, is a 15-time Finalist and has been ranked inside the PSA’s top-10 for 33 consecutive months
- He’s dropped from World #6 to World #8, but this month’s deep runs in Philly and Doha can only help get him back on the climb
- In September, he skipped the Oracle NetSuite Open with an ongoing back injury. Hopefully it won’t flair before Saturday
 Joel Makin -09- (WAL) | Semifinal Emcee Introduction
The #8-seed, this 26-year-old British National Champion has yet to lose a single game at this year’s Qatar Q-Terminals Classic; and over the past 13-months, has solidified his top-10 standing behind tremendous victories over the greatest in the game. Just 18 days ago at the US Open, he earned his first career victory over World #1 and reigning World Champion Ali Farag. Last March in Cairo, he defeated World #2 Mohamed Eshorbagy to reach the Semi’s of the Black Ball Open. Here in Doha, he’s back with a career-high ranking of World #9, through to the Semifinals for the first time, determined to give himself a shot at lifting his first PSA Platinum trophy. From Wales, please welcome The Golden Tiger, Joel Makin.
- SF — L —  Diego Elias -08- (PER) | Score: 5-11, 11-8, 6-11, 7-11 (70m)
- QF — W — Mazen Hesham -13- (EGY) | Score: 11-9, 11-4, 11-3 (29m) | RECAP
- R3 — W — Patrick Rooney -42- (ENG) | Score: 11-5, 11-5, 11-8 (38m) | RECAP
- R2 — W — Iker Pajares Bernabeu -27- (ESP) | Score: 12-10, 11-9, 11-8 (55m) | RECAP
- R1 — BYE
- This was Makin’s 4th PSA Platinum Semifinal
- Since the sport’s return from the Global Lockdown, Joel has been fantastic
- Now a top-10 staple, he made his first two appearances at the PSA World Tour Finals, reaching the Semifinals in his debut last October
- Just two months ago, he captured his first British National Championship
- Platinum Semifinals runs at the Black Ball and the US Opens, behind wins over Elshorbagy and Farag
- Not to mention, Joel’s opener in Philadelphia was a victory over World #6 Karim Abdel Gawad
- Fans love Makin’s relentless effort on court, which often generate impressive highlights (see Makin’s match with Farag at this year’s NetSuite Open). But the truth is, Joel doesn’t regularly win those thrilling matches against the sport’s elite
- Makin put it best after defeating Ali Farag in Philadelphia: “I was frustrated coming into it. I’ve lost in too many Quarterfinals now and I’m not happy staying around there. I brought a lot of intensity into the match and I took it to him. I don’t want the match to be us saying ‘great shot’ and clapping each other’s shots…wanted to take it to him, get across the middle and dominate the court.”
QATAR SQUASH: 27 YEARS OF HIGHLIGHTS AND HISTORY
For nearly three decades, the Qatar Squash Federation has hosted the sport’s elite at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex. Originally coined the Qatar International, Pakistan’s Jansher Khan captured the first five Doha titles from 1992 to 1996. Canada’s Jonathan Power then won back-to-back Doha titles over Scotland’s Peter Nichol; earning triumphs at the 1997 Qatar International and the 1998 World Championship.
Enter the Qatar Classic Squash Championship
After a two year absence, professional squash returned to Doha in 2001. Rebranded the Qatar Classic, Peter Nichol – now representing England – again reached back-to-back Doha Finals. This time, he captured the first two Qatar Classic titles over Australia’s David Palmer. England’s Lee Beachill and James Willstrop won the next two Qatar Classic titles, before Egypt began its outright Doha dominance.
In fact, since Ramy Ashour became the first Egyptian Doha champion at the 2006 Qatar Classic; the Arab nation has won 13 of the last 15 Doha titles, including three World Championships. Alexandria’s Mohamed Elshorbagy – the only 3-time Qatar Classic Champion – reached a record six consecutive finals on this court between 2012 and 2017. Most recently, Ali Farag won back-to-back Qatar Classic titles in 2018 and 2020. Unfortunately, the World #1 won’t be back in Doha this year to defend the title.
Professional Squash and COVID-19
Like every international sport, the recent global pandemic has created tremendous challenges for squash events worldwide. Due to COVID’s insidious spread, the 2019-20 season ended abruptly in March; immediately following Mohamed Elshorbagy’s victory at the 2020 Canary Wharf Classic.
Without fans, the sport launched its return six months later in Manchester – another Elshorbagy triumph. However, with global cases hitting a second surge, all events in the United Kingdom, United States and Asia were shuttered. The 2020-2021 season was in peril. At the time, as a U.S. resident, Andy Taylor made the difficult decision to suspend all international travel. Reluctantly, he stepped away from his role as emcee at the 2020 Qatar Classic.
Saviors. The Qatar Squash Federation and CIB’s CEO Hussein Abaza of Egypt
Over the next 10-months, Qatar and Egypt were the only two nations to host PSA Platinum events. Without the U.S. Open. Hong Kong Open. New York’s Tournament of Champions. The Windy City Open. And British Open — The sport needed bold and determined intervention.
Cautiously, the QSF moved forward with the Qatar Classic, providing a COVID safe bubble for players and crew. Meanwhile, Egypt’s Hussein Abaza went above and beyond. Remarkably, CIB’s CEO spearheaded two PSA World Tour Finals, the Egyptian Open, two Black Ball Opens and El Gouna International. From September to June, he funded six expensive, top-tier PSA events for both the men’s and women’s tours. Egypt became the hub of the sport – a safe place to compete while vaccinations took hold; while the world recovered.
Thankfully, since July, much of the globe has slowly opened back up. Chicago hosted the World Championships. Hull welcomed the sport’s elite for the British Open. Last month, it was only fitting that the 2021-22 season began in front of the pyramids at Giza. True to form, Egyptian rivals Ali Farag and Mohamed Elshorbagy headlined the event; delivering an exceptional 5-game Final, where Farag lifted his 9th Platinum trophy.
A Sport Back on Track, thanks to human compassion and ingenuity
After September’s Egyptian Open, the U.S. swing was also a tremendous success. From San Francisco to the US Open’s immaculate new Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia; fans responsibly returned, recently tested or fully vaccinated. All starved to once again see the best in the world compete inside the glass.
Now, squash returns to the Arab Gulf for the 17th Qatar Classic Squash Championship.
Thankfully, as global vaccinations continue their ascent, the new squash season is beginning to follow a familiar path. While the past 19-months have been dark, spotlighting the reality of human fragility; it has also been an epoch defined by compassion, resilience and hope. Squash, as a sport and lifestyle, embodies these traits.
When we choose to quiet the noise, steel our determination, and commit to selflessly work together toward collective good; ultimately toward survival — the darkness is no match for our blinding ingenuity.
No, the fight isn’t over. But we’ve hit some astonishing nicks, and continue to edge closer toward “match ball.”