New Zealand’s Paul Coll, the highest ranked non-Egyptian player, had to dig deep as he won a gladiatorial battle with 12th seed Omar Mosaad for a spot in the quarter-finals of the PSA Men’s World Squash Championship in a match that just stopped short of the two-hour mark yesterday.
At the glass court of the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex, fourth seed Coll had to fight back into the match after the world number 15 had taken the first game.
However, Mosaad, egged on by a partisan crowd, levelled the encounter at 2-2, before an edgy fifth game saw both Coll and Mosaad squander match balls.
The New Zealander, who, as the host of the evening said, provided quite a few moments to the photographers with his dives, eventually closed the decider at 16-14 for a 3-2 (9-11, 14-12, 11-9, 6-11, 16-14) win.
The match, at 119 minutes, is the longest of the tournament so far.
“I am very relieved because it was really scrappy squash there at the end. There weren’t many flowing rallies so it became tough mentally and the ball was getting soft, so I just had to keep it together and I am happy that I came through the other side,” Coll said after the match, which saw the referees being put in a spot often with a vocal crowd for company.
“I knew I just had to keep on it mentally and I always thought that I should have closed it out earlier. It got a bit scrappy and I lost my squash and I lost what I was doing.
“In the end, I got a bit more positive, a bit more aggressive and I took the game to him and I was happy to close it out on that final match ball.
“I had to just survive. I had to chase down everything and do whatever I can do, making sure the ball was never going to bounce twice. I need to go and see the physio now, get some food in and maybe go to the pool. I need to recover as much as I can. Physically I was feeling alright, it was just mentally that it was tiring.”
Coll will go against yet another Egyptian in the quarter-finals today – 14th seed Zahed Salem. Salem slightly bettered his recent record against Colombian eighth seed Miguel Rodriguez picking up only his second win in their last nine matches.
Rodriguez got going first taking the opening game, but after several physical rallies, the Egyptian managed to win three straight games to take the match 3-1 (8-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-9) in 74 minutes.
“I’m happy to be through to the quarter-finals, it’s the first time for me at the World Championship,” said Salem. And then there were the ElShorbagy brothers – world number two Mohamed and number 10 Marwan.
The 2017 World Championships finalists closed out both their matches in three games with the elder brother, Mohamed, beating India’s 10th seed Saurav Ghosal 11-6, 11-8, 14-12 after saving game balls in the last game, and Marwan breezing past compatriot Mohamed Abouelghar 11-4, 11-8, 11-4 in 30 minutes.
“We both go way back and we are great friends,” Mohamed said about his training partner for the last one month, Ghosal.
“To beat him 3-0 is a huge boost for my confidence because it is never easy to beat him in three. Really happy to come back in that third game when I was 10-8 down. That is something I am really proud of.”
The results mean that the two brothers, only siblings so far to face off against each in the men’s World Championships final, one which elder brother won in Manchester, will meet for the 18th time today in the last eight.
“There probably will not be much communication (with brother Marwan) in the next 24 hours,” Mohamed said after his match yesterday much to the amusement of the crowd present.
“It’s emotionally very difficult for us because one of us will have to end the other’s dreams. Believe me we hate it. But it is a unique situation for our sport, we both give something different to the sport and I am glad to be a part of it.”
And then came the kicker: “As long as I win it, I will be a happy elder brother.”
Today’s quarter-final action will kick off at 4pm with German fifth seed Simon Rosner taking on former world number one James Willstrop of England.
Tarek Momen is the fourth Egyptian in fray for a spot in the semi-finals, and he will face Peruvian sixth seed Diego Elias in their last eight match at 6pm.
Results (Round III)
4-Paul Coll (NZL) bt 12-Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-2: 9-11, 14-12, 11-9, 6-11, 16-14 (119m)
14-Zahed Salem (EGY) bt 8-Miguel Rodriguez (COL) 3-1: 8-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-9 (74m)
9-Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt 7-Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) 3-0: 11-4, 11-8, 11-4 (30m)
1-Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt 10-Saurav Ghosal (IND) 3-0: 11-6, 11-8, 14-12 (50m)
Today’s schedule (Quarter-finals)
4pm: 5-Simon Rosner (GER) v James Willstrop (ENG)
5pm: 4-Paul Coll (NZL) v 14-Zahed Salem (EGY)
6pm: 2-Tarek Momen (EGY) v 6-Diego Elias (PER)
7pm: 9-Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v 1-Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
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