8:55 am
19 Oct 2017

Kiwi Coll Conquers World Champion At US Open

9 Oct 2017

Unseeded New Zealander Paul Coll pulled off one of the biggest wins of his career when he knocked top seed Karim Abdel Gawad, the reigning World Champion from Egypt, out of the 2017 US Open Presented by Macquarie Investment Management in the first round.

The world No.10, who has forged a reputation as one of the fittest and strongest athletes on the PSA World Tour, played to his strengths to extend the rallies early on and force Gawad into an attritional battle that goes against the Egyptian's typically flair-based game. It was a tactic that paid dividends as Coll came through a close first game 11-8 before doubling his advantage courtesy of a comfortable 11-3 second game.

26-year-old Gawad though turned the tide in the third game, however, finding his range with greater accuracy and nullifying Coll courtesy of a series of sweetly struck winners. But the comeback was short-lived as Coll regained the ascendency in the fourth to grind out the win and seal a huge upset victory.

"It's definitely one of the most significant wins of my career," said Coll.

"I've known for a long time that I'd be playing him. I've been working really hard during the off-season and I'm cashing in on some of that now - to beat someone like him in round one is huge.

"I stuck to my game plan and trusted in what I was doing. I knew he'd come out hard in the third but I got back into it in the fourth and hit the right lines and length.

"But I have to stay grounded. I can't just be happy with that win, there's plenty of squash left in this event and I want to go further."

Coll will now go up against another Egyptian, former World No.3 Omar Mosaad, in the second round while Peruvian former World Junior champion Diego Elias, currently at a career high world No.15, sealed his place in the second round following an impressive 3/0 win over Hong Kong's Max Lee.

"You're always a bit nervous in the first round so I just tried to relax," said Elias.

"I was moving well and feeling really good on court. I'm feeling fresh right now, I've been training hard and I've been playing well."

In the Women's draw former world No.1 Raneem El Welily used a get out of jail card to keep her tournament hopes alive after a Jekyll-and-Hyde performance against Canadian qualifier Hollie Naughton.

El Welily could do nothing to stop the 22-year-old in the early part of the match as Naughton, playing inspired squash, stormed to a two-game lead. El Welily then hit her own purple patch, restoring parity on the scoreboard to take the match into a fifth game, where Naughton squandered a golden opportunity late on to gift the match to the Egyptian.

"She gave me a gift at the end and thankfully I'm still alive in this event," said El Welily.

"At 2/0 down I just relaxed. I was basically out of the event. I have to learn a lot from today's match."

The win means El Welily remains on course to meet defending champion Camille Serme in the semi-finals after the Frenchwoman put in a clinical display to defeat wildcard Haley Mendez.

"I'm very happy to be back," said the 28-year-old following her win.

"I love playing here. It's an amazing venue and an amazing crowd so I'm just trying to enjoy my squash.

"I didn't know much about her so I was nervous as I didn't know what to expect, but I wanted to play my game and tried to find my targets on the court, so I'm happy."