After 13 defeats to Farag, Kiwi Coll pulls out a massive performance to win squash’s most iconic trophy
By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Editor
New Zealand’s Paul Coll and Egypt’s Nour El Sherbini are the 2021 Allam British Open champions after they got the better of Egypt’s Ali Farag and Nouran Gohar in today’s finals at Hull’s Allam Sport Centre.
The British Open is the sport’s longest-running tournament, and World No.4 Coll put his name in the history books as he became the first male Kiwi to ever lift the prestigious title, saving his best squash until the final to down World Champion Farag in four games.
The 29-year-old had never won a major title before today and had suffered 13 consecutive defeats to Farag in their PSA history.
However, Coll put that to one side as he produced a formidable performance to come from one game down and get his hands on the iconic trophy.
“It’s been a long journey for myself,” said Coll afterwards. “Coming right from juniors, I had to leave home at a young age. This moment right here makes it all worth it.
“My parents were supposed to be here, but due to COVID they can’t travel, so just super proud of this moment. I just want to thank everyone from New Zealand and everyone who’s helped me over my career to get to this stage.
“There’s too many people to single out, but thank you all. I love you all. Thank you to the whole of New Zealand for getting up at two AM and watching.”
The women’s final saw World No.1 El Sherbini triumph after she came from 2-1 down to prevail 9-11, 13-11, 5-11, 11-7, 11-2 against World No.2 and 2019 champion Nouran Gohar to win her third British Open title.
The two Egyptians were facing each other in their fourth final this season, with the last coming at the PSA World Championships in Chicago just last month, when El Sherbini went on to claim her fifth World Championship title.
However, it looked as though it was going to be a different story this time around as World No.2 Gohar executed her game plan to perfection in the early stages to take a 2-1 lead as El Sherbini looked to be struggling physically, sporting heavy strapping to her thigh.
A complete shift in momentum though in the fourth saw El Sherbini come back to life to take the title in an epic five-game contest and add to her 2016 and 2018 titles.
“I was struggling the whole match and just wanted to keep going and keep pushing every point,” said El Sherbini afterwards. “I was almost going to be 2-0 down and who knows what would happen.
“I didn’t expect the last game would be that quick, but I felt myself going point after point and I didn’t want to stop if it was working. So just keep going, keep going and it’s an indescribable feeling right now.
“It’s amazing [to have won a third title]. The British Open is a title that every player would love to win and competing in the British Open straight after the World Championship is very tough for me mentally, but I just wanted to keep the same form I was on.”
Coll and El Sherbini take home $22,800 in prize money following their wins.
2021 Allam British Open, Allam Sport Centre, Hull, England.
 Paul Coll (NZL) bt  Ali Farag (EGY) 3-1: 6-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-8 (64m)
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt  Nouran Gohar (EGY) 3-2: 9-11, 13-11, 5-11, 11-7, 11-2 (64m)
Pictures courtesy of PSA