Friday, February 23, 2024

The Beast is back to his best to beat Paul Coll in U.S. Open quarter-finals

Diego Elias beats Joel Makin in straight games

England’s No.5 seed Mohamed ElShorbagy has moved into his seventh U.S. Open semi-final after overcoming World No.1 Paul Coll in an epic 90-minute thriller at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia.

ElShorbagy has been in superb form this season and has already captured two events, winning at the QTerminals Qatar Classic and Oracle NetSuite Open. The in-form Englishman was slow to get going in the opening game of the encounter and was dominated by the accuracy and solid play of Coll, who ran out to a 9-4 lead before converting 11-5.

ElShorbagy’s quality returned in the second game as he stepped up the court, volleying with power and purpose to keep Coll on the move constantly. His intense volleying, partnered with his relentless hitting to the back of the court, was allowing ElShorbagy to take away all of the World No.1’s threat in the front corners. ElShorbagy gave himself a well-deserved 2-1 lead, winning the second and third games 11-7, 11-8.

Despite Coll steamrolling the fourth game to set up a decider, the momentum gathered was squashed by the former world champion in the fifth game, as ElShorbagy was intelligently setting up attacking opportunities and punishing them severely.

After a brutal 22-minutes, ‘The Beast’ had closed out the game 11-7 to move into his seventh U.S. Open semi-final and his first since 2019. The loss for Coll will also see him surrender his World No.1 spot to Egypt’s Ali Farag in next week’s rankings.

“There is a reason why I switched to play for England, it’s because I wanted to have a great team behind me,” said ElShorbagy after his win.

“Jade [the England physio] has been doing an incredible job on me this week. We will do a lot of work tonight on my body to come back fresh for tomorrow. I have so much trust in her, I have seen how she works and all the English guys when I was playing Nick [Matthew] and James [Willstrop] and all these guys. So I can’t wait to come back tomorrow.

“When you have played so much squash in your career, I think I read some stat that this is my 12th quarter-final in the U.S. Open. So that shows the consistency that I have had over the years.

“I always give my best every time I go on court, I’ve barely pulled out of any tournament, I’ve always tried to be in the best shape I can. And that has always been my greatest strength over the years, it’s that I’ve always showed up.

“I want to give some credit to Paul, he had so much to lose. I know how he felt, even when he changed the ball in the fourth how much he had the advantage.

“But in the fifth game with the pressure, anything can happen and I’ve been in that situation a million times and I just stayed aggressive. There is a reason for that because I’ve been in that situation probably more times than him.”

Diego Elias on the ball against Joel Makin

ElShorbagy’s opponent in the last four will be Peru’s Diego Elias, who overcame Wales’ Joel Makin in straight games to advance to his second consecutive U.S. Open semi-final.

The Welshman came out strongly in the first game but, having led 9-7, failed to finish it off as Elias won four points in a row to win 11-9.

After securing the first game, Elias’ intensity went up a notch. He started to utilise his trademark hold to stop and start the movement of Makin and force the world No.7 into many difficult movements.

The full range of the Peruvian’s shots were coming out to both entertain the crowd and send him clear on the scoreboard. He took both the second and third games 11-6 to reach another Platinum event semi-final.

Elias had this to say after his win: “I’m feeling very good. I put a lot of work in over the summer and the first tournaments I didn’t play my best but I know I’m prepared and ready to win one of these big tournaments, so I was a bit upset with the Egyptian Open but I just want to win this one.”

As for his coaching support, he added: “Me and Greg (Gaultier) are just good friends. He’s helped me for a long time – he’s not really my coach but more of a mentor.

“He always gives me some advice and having Wael (El Hindi) in my corner is great. He knows so much about squash and he’s been helping me for the past year or so.

“My dad hasn’t been able to come to a few tournaments so it’s good to have Wael here and I still speak to Jonathan (Power) too.”

For Makin, he will head home to the UK knowing that he is capable of playing exceptional squash and will be planning how to make that next major step forward in his career. Breaking into the top four is a massive challenge.

Women’s quarter-finals – Joelle King halts home hope Sabrina Sobhy in U.S. Open after massive 19-17 opening game: report

PSA Platinum 2022 U.S. Open, presented by Truist, Arlen Specter National Center, Philadelphia, USA.

Men’s Quarter-Finals (Bottom Half):
[4] Diego Elias (PER) bt [7] Joel Makin (WAL) 3-0: 11-9, 11-6, 11-6 (52m)
[5] Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG) bt [2] Paul Coll (NZL) 3-2: 5-11, 11-7, 11-8, 3-11, 11-7 (90m)

Women’s Quarter-Finals (Bottom Half): 
[5] Joelle King (NZL) bt Sabrina Sobhy (USA) 3-0: 19-17, 11-9,
[2] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt [8] Salma Hany (EGY) 3-0: 11-7, 11-5, 11-5 (27m)

Men’s Semi-Finals (October 14):
[1] Ali Farag (EGY) v Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)
[4] Diego Elias (PER) v [5] Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG)

Women’s Semi-Finals (October 14):
[1] Nouran Gohar (EGY) v Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
[5] Joelle King (NZL) v [2] Nour El Sherbini (EGY)

Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour 


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