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Nov 26 - Dec 8, 2019
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Coll sets up final showdown with Momen

There will be a new world champion in Doha as the Kiwi outlasts El Shorbagy in semifinal encounter.
Paul Coll Dives To Return A Shot From Marwan El Shorbagy Psa World Squash Championships
Paul Coll dives to return a shot from Marwan El Shorbagy in the second semifinal of the PSA World Squash Championships. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

New Zealander Paul Coll, clad in a light grey tee-shirt, held up both his arms and screamed in pure glee, silencing hundreds of Egyptian fans who had come to watch the semifinal of the PSA World Championships.

Coll, who fans fondly call ‘Superman,’ had just produced a sensational show to beat crowd favourite Marwan El Shorbagy 9-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7 at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex.

He thus became the first man from his country in 34 years — since Ross Norman in 1985 — to reach the final of a World Championship. Even the real Superman would have been impressed.

In the final, Coll will meet Tarek Momen, another Egyptian, who overcame Germany’s Simon Rosner 9-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-6 in the other last-four match. It is Momen’s second consecutive World Championship final.

Coll’s comeback win over El Shorbagy was a classic mainly because of the 27-year-old’s never-say-die attitude on court.

He trailed 1-7 in the first game before coming back strongly, but eventually losing it 9-11. Similarly, he was behind 2-7 in the second, but held his nerve to craft a 11-9 win. The Kiwi lost the third game 8-11, but not before showing strong spirit to come back from 2-7 down.

Those first three games gave the World No 4 immense confidence and he pushed El Shorbagy over the edge in the next two to clinch the final berth.

Not even a lengthy injury break, which El Shorbagy took early in the second game, could deflect Coll’s attention from the task on hand. He acknowledged it had not been easy.

RESULTS (Semifinals)

  • Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Simon Rosner (GER) 3-1 (9-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-6)
  • Paul Coll (NZL) bt Marwan El Shorbagy (EGY) 3-2 (9-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7).

“El Shorbagy had great fan support and he should’ve felt he was playing at home. It made my job challenging. I made sure the forced break didn’t affect me in any way. I changed my sweaty shirt, got a towel around me, and kept my body warm by hitting the ball to the wall. When the match resumed, I was as fresh and focused as ever,” he told Inside Qatar.

“I know El Shorbagy’s forehand game was strong, so I positioned myself well to receive it. I had a specific game plan and I stuck to it till the end,” he added.

Meanwhile, El Shorbagy conceded defeat gracefully.

“After beating my brother Mohamed in the quarterfinal, I’m gutted about exiting the Doha tournament. The injury (on the right thigh) affected my natural game, but I won’t use that as an excuse. Coll was definitely the better player. He came back from way behind in the first three games and it shows his mental toughness. I congratulate him on the win,” he said.

Earlier in the first semifinal, Momen had started with a 9-11 setback, but soon hit his stride and never looked back. He used clever placements and soft-touch shots to wear down his German opponent by making him rush to all parts of the court.

“I had had a difficult season, so I’m really happy to have found my form in Doha. I’m over the moon right now. I hope to become the tournament’s 18th winner in 41 editions. I’ll try my best to do it,” he said.

The final is at 5.30 pm on Friday.