Doha, Qatar: New Zealand’s World No.5 Paul Coll has become the first Kiwi since 1986 to reach the final of the PSA Men’s World Championship after he got the better of World No.10 Marwan El Shorbagy in a thrilling five-game battle in Doha, Qatar to set up a final clash with World No.3 Tarek Momen.
Coll will now look to follow in the footsteps of Ross Norman, who ended legendary Pakistani player Jahangir Khan’s unprecedented 555-match winning run 33 years ago to lift the World Championship crown.
Coll, 27, started slowly in each of the first three games as 2017 runner-up El Shorbagy, riding high after beating older brother Mohamed in the previous round, found his range at front of the court, and the Egyptian twice took a one-game lead despite requiring treatment on a leg injury in the second game.
But the length of the match seemed to suit Coll, who is one of the most athletic players on the PSA World Tour, and he fought back to force a decider. A number of early errors from El Shorbagy set the tone for the fifth game and Coll powered through to complete an 9-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7 victory to reach his first major PSA final.
“I feel over the moon, it is a pretty surreal feeling, but like I said yesterday, I am just going to enjoy the moment as it is, but then focus on tomorrow because tomorrow is the biggest match possible and I want to firing for that,” Coll said afterwards.
“Marwan is one of the best in the game at winning quick points and he did exactly that at the start of the first three games. I was kicking myself because my gameplan was to not let him do that. I did not feel like I was playing terrible squash, there were just a few wrong shot selections.
“I wasn’t even thinking at the end there, I was just trying to run my backside off and trying to volley as much as possible and push up the court. I had to make him work and I tried to put the pace through the roof.”
Meanwhile, Momen came back from a game down to overcome Germany’s World No.6 Simon Rösner by an 9-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-6 margin, becoming the first man since England’s Nick Matthew in 2011 to reach back-to-back World Championship finals.
Momen lost out to World No.1 Ali Farag in the final of last season’s World Championship final and he will now look to go one better than his runner-up finish in Chicago, while it continues his strong form in Doha after he reached his first major PSA final in the city two years ago.
The 31-year-old, whose wife Raneem El Welily was a losing finalist in the PSA Women’s World Championship two weeks ago in front of the Great Pyramid of Giza, has won three of six matches against Coll, but did lose their most recent meeting in March’s Canary Wharf Classic final.
“I’ve been through difficult times recently, and I worked so hard in the off season. To make it here, after the few hiccups, I can’t believe it,” said Momen.
”It is amazing, but I am not done. I have been there already and I know how it feels. The focus is to recover and to prepare myself for a big battle and to finally lift the trophy that I have always dreamed of.”
Semifinals: Tarek Momen (EGY) 3-1  Simon Rösner (GER) 9-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-6 (58m)  Paul Coll (NZL) 3-2  Marwan El Shorbagy (EGY) 9-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7 (84m)