Coll Muscles Into Maiden U.S. Open Semifinals; World No. 1’s Affirm Dominance

Camille Serme (r) against Amanda Sobhy

New Zealand’s world No. 8 Paul Coll will make his PSA World Tour Platinum semifinal debut after a thrilling ninety-six-minute victory over world No. 4 Tarek Momen, while world No. 1’s Nour El Sherbini and Mohamed ElShorbagy affirmed their dominance in the FS Investments U.S. Open quarterfinals Wednesday night at Drexel University’s Daskalaskis Athletic Center.

The U.S. squash community celebrated Women in Sports Day on Wednesday and were treated to two displays of excellence from El Sherbini and world No. 5 Camille Serme in the first matches of the session.

El Sherbini quickly fired her way to a 2-0 lead against compatriot and surprise quarterfinalist Yathreb Adel. Adel, who pulled off two impressive five-game upsets on her way to the quarterfinals, put up a fight in the third game and held an 8-6 lead at one point, at which point El Sherbini went on to claim the next five points and match to reach her third career U.S. Open semifinal.

“I think I played really well,” El Sherbini said. “She has been playing really well all week, she beat Nouran [Gohar] and has been in good form. No-one knows how long we have been playing against each other, we are the same age and have been playing since we were five years old. She is really tough to play against and I’m really happy with my performance today. The game plan was to be confident and I think I did that today and played my game.”

El Sherbini will face Serme in a rematch of the 2016 U.S. Open final after the French international ended Amanda Sobhy’s run in a decisive three games. Serme took the wind out of Sobhy’s sails after the Sobhy pulled off a come from behind upset over defending champion Nour El Tayeb in the third round. Despite the vocal crowd support for Sobhy, Serme dispatched the American in a decisive three games 11-5, 11-8, 11-7.

The victory is Serme’s second in just as many weeks against Sobhy following their second round match at the Oracle NetSuite Open in San Francisco.

“The crowd were cheering a lot for Amanda today,” Serme said. “I just tried to stay focused and I’m even surprised with my game today. I hit really good targets and I’m just really happy. I knew we had tough matches in the past and I won really close battles, so I knew it was going to be tough and she obviously beat the World No.3 Nour El Tayeb. I just tried to forget about all that and focus on what I needed to do on court and it seemed to work.”

Two years ago, Serme took out Sobhy in the U.S. Open semifinals on her way to defeating El Sherbini in the 2016 finals.

“Playing against Nour [El Sherbini] was the final two years ago,” Serme said. “I’m just very happy to be back in the semis after losing in the second round last year. I’m just enjoying my squash and that’s the most important thing.”

Paul Coll (l) celebrates his five-game victory over world No. 4 Tarek Momen.

The ensuing pair of men’s matches saw world No. 1 Mohamed ElShorbagy follow his compatriot El Sherbini in recording a 3-0 victory. ElShorbagy’s first two games were anything but routine against an in-form Mohamed Abouelghar, with ElShorbagy escaping late in each game to go up 11-9, 11-9. The two-time U.S. Open champion then emphatically closed out the third game and match 11-4 after forty-six minutes.

“The way he has been playing, he hasn’t lost a match this season,” ElShorbagy said. “He’s a great player but I just wanted to go on court with him today and I wanted to show him that how he won the last tournament, he needed to do a 100 times better today. I have so much respect for him—I know how great a player he is and I knew I couldn’t take him lightly. He has matured this season and I had to treat it like a final today. When it comes to those end games you have to be fearless and you have to show your mettle and I showed that at the end of the second game when he came back at me. I’m really happy and proud of my performance today.”

The match of the day ended the session with Coll and Momen pitted against each other. The two top-ten players traded games filled with enthralling rallies and effort until they found themselves level at 9-all in the fifth. Momen held the first match ball, which Coll evaded due to a successful video review reversal. Coll then went on to earn his own match ball, which Momen fought off to reach 11-all. Poised with a second match ball, Coll won yet another crucial video review to hand the Kiwi the match and his first PSA World Platinum semifinal berth.

“It feels amazing,” Coll said. “I put a lot of work in over the summer, changing my game and working on a lot of things and it’s feeling really good out there. Tarek is a great player and he’s so fast, but I felt that I really found my game more in the fourth and fifth. I wasn’t really hitting the ball in the first, I was just patting round and waiting and that’s what I was trying to get out of my game all summer. I focused on that, to hit the ball with more purpose, going into the front and back. Just trying to push up and volley more, I was just trying to get into myself more and push.”

Coll will face ElShorbagy in the first men’s semifinal Friday.

“I’ve been working hard on my game,” Coll said. “So I’m just excited to see where I am against the best in the world and I’m ready to give it everything I have got and really take it to him and leave it all out there.”

The second half of quarterfinal play is set for Thursday evening from 5pm local time.

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