Friday, December 1, 2023

Superman Coll rocks Rosner in 116-minute battle at Canary Wharf

Paul Coll dives across court

Kiwi wins 11-9 in the fifth


Paul Coll produced the shock of the day at the East Wintergarden as he dethroned third seed Simon Rosner, 11-8, 9-11, 12-10, 9-11, 11-9 in a gruelling 116 minutes, his longest match on tour.

It was a fascinating match-up between Coll, with his lightning quick and acrobatic retrieval, which has earned him his ‘Superman’ moniker, and the brute power of the German ‘tree-chopper’.

At the end of a very tight fifth, after Rosner had fought back from 5-1 then 7-2 down, the New Zealander held his nerve at 9-9 to seal the win.

He brought up matchball with a fine drop into the backhand corner which Rosner could not dig up and then, after a let, hit a piledriver of a forehand and roared his delight at one of the biggest scalps of his career so far.

Rosner reviewed, ensuring a nervy wait, but the referee deemed the shot too good – as did the crowd who had reacted incredulously to the call.

“I love playing here. I played here last year and obviously it was an amazing atmosphere,” Coll said.

“It’s lived up to it this year and I loved every 116 minutes of that.

“I felt pretty flat in the fourth and the start of the fifth and then I got a second wind. I was hanging on and just trying to do what I could.

“Then I got a second wind and thought I could start stepping up the court a little bit. I thought I was still a bit negative going into the front, but I was happy with the way I stuck in there and pushed through that flat patch then finished it off.”

The first game was characterised by long patient rallies, especially down the backhand side, before Coll took it from 9-8 courtesy of a great backhand drop shot and forcing a stroke.

The second began in much the same vein, before Rosner gradually started turning the screw and inching ahead on the scoreboard.

The game exploded into life later on, as Coll went for some of his trademark dives, which a cynic may deride as a bit unnecessary – one was a dive only for an attempted back wall boast and another it seemed he could have just run to – but which are great theatre, as the lively crowd reaction shows.

Rosner brought up game ball with a tight drive, at the end of a wild rally, and then took that point for the game – third time lucky with a thumping drive which even Coll could not get to, after the ‘Superman’ had dug up a drive then drop shot both of which he had no right to get to.

The third contained even more brutal rallies, and Coll’s grit prevailed as he took the game 12-10.

It seemed his exertions were telling as he slipped to 7-2 down in the fourth, with Rosner playing some fine drop, drives and disguise, but Coll’s “second wind” drew him back to 8-8.

A sublime backcourt drop from Rosner put him a point in front, where the players got stuck in a nervy deadlock, as Rosner, then Coll, then Rosner again were awarded lets.

Rosner was then granted a let which Coll successfully appealed, but the German composed himself to seal the game, with a forehand drive and an excellent backhand volley squeeze.

After going 7-2 in the fifth, Coll seemed to cramp up a little, and Rosner pulled back to 8-8.

Here, Rosner appealed for a let on a ball it seemed he had little chance of picking up. The ref considered the decision for what seemed like an age, the tension palpable on such a vital decision…before deciding to give Rosner a let. The crowd, quite clearly, were of the other opinion.

Nevertheless, Coll steeled himself to bring up matchball with a quality drive and drop Rosner could not dig up.

On matchball, Coll hit a rip-roaring drive and shouted in joy at his win – but then there was another nerve-wracking wait as Rosner appealed for a let. The ref, rightly, deemed the ball too good and Coll let out another roar – at one his best wins yet.

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Nick Matthew was not on such sparkling form, but showed all his experience as he grinded to a 15-13, 12-10, 11-2 victory over Ryan Cuskelly.

The number one seed seemed a little out of sorts and struggling for rhythm in the first as he went 6-1 then 8-3 down. But he fought back to 10-10 then used all of his experience to prevail in a tiebreak punctuated with tense rallies and referee decisions.

It seemed he had pulled away in the second, as he went 7-2 up, but a few errors and Cuskelly’s scrapping saw the Australian pull it back and force Matthew to close it out in another tie-break.

But Matthew did make lighter work of the third, stepping up the court a fraction more and finishing rallies with more venom and precision.

Afterwards, he expressed his relief at getting through and couldn’t help having a little dig at Cuskelly not being able to open the door for an injury time out during the first game.

“I always knew that whatever happened tonight, he couldn’t open the door, so if I could have kept him on the court I could lock him in,” he said.

“And eventually I won because he couldn’t get out the door and that was my gameplan in the end.”
Matthew will face fellow PSA World Tour veteran Cameron Pilley in the quarter-finals after the Australian got past qualifier Joel Makin of Wales 3-0.

Daryl Selby also progressed after surviving a little bit of a scare from Charles Sharpes, beating the qualifier 14-12, 11-6, 11-9 and admitting he was lucky to win in three.

It was a welcome return home for Selby, who has clearly recovered from the virus he was suffering from recently at the Windy City Open, where Gregory Gaultier beat him 11-2, 11-0, 11-1, because World No. 48 Sharpes made sure Selby had to bring his best to progress.

Selby said: “I knew I had to be wary of Charles because his attacking game when it’s on is really good and he showed tonight the other side of his game – he retrieved really well, he lifted when he needed to.”

With the marathon match between Coll and Rosner affecting the schedule, most spectators had decided to head home by the time Cam Pilley took to the court against Welsh qualifier Joel Makin.

The tall Aussie confidently stroked the ball around in the opening game and Makin looked a little nervous as he mustered just two points in the opening game.

However, he settled into a competitive rhythm and made Pilley work harder for the next two games before the match finished around 11.30pm.

Asked if he had been on court any later, Pilley replied: “Yes, the Polish national play-offs. The court was in the open air so we had to wait for the sun to go down before we could start play. I went on with LJ Anjema at 2am and came off court at half-three. Then the number fours went on. So the match began when the sun went down and ended when it came back up again.”

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

First Round – (Top half):
[1] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 3-0: 15-13, 12-10, 11-2 (65m)
[8] Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt [Q] Joel Makin (WAL) 3-0: 11-2, 11-8, 11-4 (57m)
[6] Daryl Selby (ENG) bt [Q] Charles Sharpes (ENG) 3-0: 14-12, 11-6, 12-10 (46m)
Paul Coll (NZL) bt [3] Simon Rösner (GER) 3-2: 11-8, 9-11, 12-10, 9-11, 11-9 (116m)

Draw (Bottom Half) First Round
[4] Fares Dessouky (EGY) v Tom Richards (ENG)
[WC] Lyell Fuller (ENG) v [5] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA)
[7] Borja Golan (ESP) v [Q] Declan James (ENG)
[Q] Lucas Serme (FRA) v [2] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 



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