Coll joins Egyptian trio in the finals
New Zealand’s Paul Coll will feature alongside three Egyptian players on finals day at the 2021 El Gouna International Squash Open after he overcame reigning World Champion Tarek Momen at the El Gouna Conference and Culture Center.
Coll put on a tactical masterclass against World No.3 Momen, utilising height and slowing the pace down to put the Egyptian on the backfoot as he claimed an 11-9, 11-6, 11-7 victory to reach his first El Gouna International final, where he will meet World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy.
“I was super happy with my game plan and the way I stuck to it all the way through,” said Coll afterwards. “It was really tough mentally for me as well, but super happy. I used a lot of height, Tarek loves the pace and tried to slow my movement down to 80% just to really be balanced on the ball, I thought that was enough to pick up a lot.
“I just tried to do that and put the ball away when I had the opportunity and just soak it up as much as possible.”
The New Zealander’s opponent in the final will be former champion ElShorbagy, who was forced to hold off a comeback from in-form player Fares Dessouky as he triumphed 11-6, 11-9, 8-11, 11-6 in the last match of the day.
ElShorbagy, who is the top seed at the tournament in the absence of World No.1 Ali Farag, made sure to get his revenge on Dessouky, who knocked him out at this event in 2019 at the quarter final stage as he booked his place in his first PSA Platinum final since the COVID-enforced suspension of the Tour last year.
“I put in a lot of hard work the last period,” said ElShorbagy. “I haven’t played all the tournaments in Egypt for the last year for different reasons and to watch all of them play was hard for me.
“Hadrian Stiff back in Bristol has taken so much from me because it was such a tough period but to be back here and back doing what I love most, I think I belong in finals and to be back there again is quite emotional for me.”
The women’s final will see top seeds Nour El Sherbini and Nouran Gohar lock horns for the PSA Platinum title after they claimed respective wins over Egypt’s Hania El Hammamy and USA’s Amanda Sobhy.
World No.1 El Sherbini was forced to halt a fightback from World No.7 El Hammamy after the 20-year-old battled back from two games down to push the match to a tense fifth game.
However, the experience of four-time World Champion El Sherbini came to the fore as she took the lead in the fifth and never looked back to triumph 11-7, 11-7, 7-11, 7-11, 11-5 in 74 minutes and reach her second final at the El Gouna International.
“She never gives up,” said El Sherbini. “She’s still young, she’s top seven in the world, she’s very good and has been giving everyone in the top 10 very tough matches. Last time I played Hania, I lost 3-2, so whenever you lose a match, you always wait for this match, it doesn’t matter how many matches you won after, you just wait for the match you lost.
“The fifth game, I always tell myself to play it as if it was the first game. Try to win every point and of course taking the lead made a huge difference. As you saw she kept fighting until the last point, she still wanted to win.”
Meanwhile, Gohar was in scintillating form from the first point as she found her length and accuracy quickly to power into a one-game lead.
Sobhy looked as though she was going to get back into it in the second, but Gohar fought back to double her advantage before seeing out the semi-final win comfortably in the third as the American looked to struggle with the hot conditions by the Red Sea.