Monday, April 15, 2024

Paul Coll topples Mohamed ElShorbagy to reach San Francisco final against Ali Farag

USA’s Amanda Sobhy delights crowd with another quick win
By MATT COLES – Squash Mad Correspondent

New Zealand’s World No.3 Paul Coll is into the final of the Oracle NetSuite Open after coming from behind to get the better of Egypt’s Mohamed ElShorbagy at the spectacular Embarcadero Plaza in San Francisco.

Coll had claimed only his second ever win over the ‘Beast from Alexandria’ earlier this year at the Allam British Open, en route to his first major title, but he was able to secure win number three against the Egyptian in this PSA World Tour Gold level tournament on Sunday evening.

ElShorbagy started strongly to take a close first game 11-9. However, from there, Coll was able to find his line and length in cool conditions to frustrate the former world champion.

He took the second game 11-7, and as dusk turned to night, the Kiwi was able to wrap up the match, winning the third game 11-8 to seal his place in the final, where he will face Egypt’s World No.1 Ali Farag. It will be a repeat of their final in Hull last month, when Coll became the first Kiwi to win the British Open.

Coll said: “I am extremely proud. I have a lot of respect for Mohamed. He has given me so many beatings. I try to learn lot from him. He is a class player so I am very happy to get that win.

“Extremely tough conditions, you have to pay so much attention to every shot and put a lot of effort into getting down into the corners, getting under the ball. A lot of mental effort and super happy!

“I want to be at that level, like the top guys, where you can adapt to any court. I don’t want my game to just suit one condition, I want to adapt my game to every court, and play well at every tournament.

“It is the consistency I train for, it is the consistency I want, so it is very rewarding to get a good win in some tricky conditions.”

Ali Farag in action against Mostafa Asal

Farag came up against compatriot Mostafa Asal in the semi-finals on Sunday evening, with the world No.1 and world champion having won seven of their eight previous matches on Tour.

This one eventually went the same way, but it was not without its challenges for Farag. After securing the first game, he saw Asal fight back to take the second and send the contest to a decider.

Farag started strongly in the third, winning seven straight points, before the match ended with Asal retiring after injuring his shoulder while diving in an attempt to get the ball.

Farag said: “It is terrible, I hate to see such a thing, especially if I am on court with him. Five or six years ago, Nour [El Tayeb, Farag’s wife] tore her labrum in the shoulder diving on court, so I hope it is nothing even remotely as serious.

“I hope it is just a spasm which will go away the next day because Mostafa is such a brilliant player for the Tour. He is a top, top player at the age of 20. When he was introduced on court, I was in awe in what he has achieved by the age of 20 already.

“He is a brilliant player. We leave it all out there on court. The very last rally shows it all, really, and I hope it is nothing serious.”

Crowd favourite Amanda Sobhy celebrates reaching the final after beating Sarah-Jane Perry

US No.1 and crowd favourite Amanda Sobhy continued her incredible form in this tournament to book her place in the women’s final, as she won a third straight match inside 20 minutes on the glass court at Embarcadero Plaza.

Having defeated Nadine Shahin in just nine minutes in the first round, and then beaten Welshwoman Tesni Evans inside 20 minutes in the quarter-finals, Sobhy came into her last four clash with England’s Sarah-Jane Perry fresh, and it showed as she came out firing.

Perry had no answer for the World No.6 in the early stages of both games, and that put pay to her chances, as Sobhy rode the home crowd to the finish line, sealing the deal in just 19 minutes.

“I am feeling good, feeling fresh. It is not easy, but I just told myself to come out as fast as I could out of the blocks and to not let up. If I win, and it’s a short game then I would still have the reserves if it went to three. That first game was crucial so I tried to go as fast as I could, and thankfully it paid off,” Sobhy said.

Salma Hany beats Joelle King to reach the final

The American will face World No.9 Salma Hany in the final, after she secured another upset, a day after taking out the tournament’s top seed, and the World No.2, Nouran Gohar.

On semi-finals night, Hany came up against New Zealand’s World No.8 Joelle King, and she was in control throughout their contest. The Egyptian needed just 23 minutes to take the victory, moving through to the biggest final of her career so far.

“It feels really amazing. Just getting out here and playing on this court, and in front of this crowd is a real pleasure. I just kept telling myself to just think about this special moment, enjoy my game, enjoying this venue and this city. As I told you yesterday, I don’t want to go home, so I am glad I made it to the final,” she said after her win.

Today’s finals revert to best of five games with play starting at 19:15 (GMT-7), with all the action live on SquashTV.

PSA Gold Oracle NetSuite Open 2021, San Francisco, USA.

Men’s Semi-Finals:
[4] Paul Coll (NZL) bt [1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) 2-1: 9-11, 11-7, 11-8 (63m)
[2] Ali Farag (EGY) bt [7] Mostafa Asal (EGY) 2-1: 11-8, 8-11, 10-5 rtd (52m)

Men’s Final:
[4] Paul Coll (NZL) v [2] Ali Farag (EGY)

Women’s Semi-Finals:
[6] Salma Hany (EGY) bt [5] Joelle King (NZL) 2-0: 11-8, 11-8 (23m)
[2] Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt [3] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 2-0: 11-7, 11-8 (19m)

Women’s Final:
[6] Salma Hany (EGY) v [2] Amanda Sobhy (USA)

Pictures courtesy of PSA


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