Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Paul Coll powers into Canary Wharf semi-finals

Paul Coll dives across the court at Canary Wharf

Kiwi Superman sets up first encounter with Nick Matthew
By JOEL DURSTON at Canary Wharf 


Paul Coll continued his fine run of form with a very impressive 11-7, 11-3, 12-10 win over home favourite Daryl Selby in the quarter-finals of the Canary Wharf Classic in London.

An almost faultless display saw him beat the Essex player, who felt compelled to hit the ball ever closer to the tin line in a fruitless bid to put away the stubborn New Zealander.
Coll said he is very relieved he managed to get through the encounter in just three games, his body having taken a hammering in his epic 116-minute, five-game victory over third seed Simon Rosner.
Selby, meanwhile, expressed his disappointment at not being able to give himself, and the crowd, at least a fourth game.

He said: “I haven’t had a proper match for a while where physically I feel 100%. The last month or two has been interrupted by injury and illness. But that’s not an excuse because that’s previous.

“Tonight I felt good. He just counter-attacked really well in the first two games. I couldn’t break him in down.

“It’s silly really – I should have won that third. I actually felt better as the match went on. So I’m annoyed at myself for not finishing the third as I should have done. That was poor.

“But he played solid squash. Seven errors, seven tins [in the third] from me …that’s too many to give away.

“Really disappointed. The support was phenomenal as always. I just didn’t give them enough to cheer about.”

The opening game started at a moderate pace, both players feeling each other out, before Superman Coll pulled away from 4-4 to 11-4, courtesy of hitting seven winners to just one error, a brilliant ratio which he executed again in the second game, which he won 11-3.

Such is the discipline of Coll’s play – the way he manages to take pace off the ball, counter with fine touch and dig up the ball from seemingly impossible situations – he has the ability to frustrate players, as he did to Selby here.

Coll will be first on court today against Nick Matthew after the Sheffield player enjoyed a reasonably routine win over big-hitting Australian Cameron Pilley, 11-4, 11-9, 11-8.

One would not think the two players have a combined age of 70 from the breakneck speed at which they were smacking it around. This is the type of game the ‘Wolf’ relishes, and here he stood high up in the court, pouncing in and volleying anything even slightly loose to exert tremendous pressure on his opponent.

“I have been working a lot on my game at the moment. I feel like I am moving better than I have been in a few years,” Matthew said.

“I was trying to work him to the front – and if that resulted in a few more errors, I was happy to accept that.”

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Lucas Serme produced some of the superb squash which saw him take out second seed Marwan Elshorbagy, but it was not enough against the quality of Borja Golan, who went through with a 14-12, 11-6, 11-6 victory.

He piled on the pressure to race into a 7-2 lead in the first, before Golan started pegging him back and three errors from the Frenchman at 8-6 up saw the Spaniard inch in front, then earn a gameball at 10-9.

But Serme saved this masterfully with a beautiful volley drop full of delay and disguise, which wrongfooted Golan. This set up a tie-break of scintillating squash.

Serme earned himself two game points, the second with another inch-perfect backhand volley, right into the nick, but Golan saved both, the first with a great forehand squeeze and the second with two delicate drops.

Golan set up game ball as Serme could not quite dig up his shot and then took the game as, after another great rally swinging from corner to corner with every shot, Serme put a volley boast just into the tin.

After that, by his own admission, more errors started to creep into Serme’s game as he grew more tired and Golan slowly wrestled control of the match, taking the next two games to seven and six.

Still, qualifier Serme comfortably did enough to again justify his place on such a stage, in such exalted company. It would not be a surprise if he uses his success here as a springboard to climb higher than his current ranking of World No. 46

He said: “I needed the first game, because in the tie-break my legs were getting heavy. I could feel the match against Nathan [Lake] in the quallies and yesterday, which was kicking in.”

“In the first game, I played good tactics, keeping him in the back and attacking at the right moment. But in the second game, I felt really tired and started to make too many mistakes. I wasn’t mentally strong enough to keep it tactical. I need to work mentally, I need to be strong.”

In the semi-final he will play Fares Dessouky, who dispatched Mathieu Castagnet 11-7, 9-11, 11-3, 11-6 in just over an hour.

It was a brilliant example of controlled aggression from the Egyptian, as in several rallies he had the Frenchman, the reigning champion here, on the ropes, yet kept seeing the ball come back to him, by hook or by crook.

Yet Dessouky retained his composure and did not become too rash in search of the winning shot, which allowed him to gradually turn the screw and get the better of his tenacious opponent.

2017 Canary Wharf Classic, East Wintergarden, Canary Wharf, London, England.

[1] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [8] Cameron Pilley (AUS) 3-0: 11-4, 11-9, 11-8 (54m)
Paul Coll (NZL) bt [6] Daryl Selby (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-3, 12-10 (59m)
[4] Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt [5] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-1: 11-7, 9-11, 11-3, 11-6 (61m)
[7] Borja Golan (ESP) bt [Q] Lucas Serme (FRA) 3-0: 14-12, 11-7, 11-6 (58m)

[1] Nick Matthew (ENG) v Paul Coll (NZL) 6.30pm
[4] Fares Dessouky (EGY) v [7] Borja Golan (ESP)

Pictures by STEVE LINE (


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