1:33 pm
24 Feb 2024

Coll Leads Top Four Seeds Through To Mauritius Semis

10 Jun 2022

The top four seeds safely made it through to the semi-finals of the Necker Mauritius Open - Presented by Beachcomber Resorts & Hotels after day three action in the PSA World Tour Gold event at the RM Club in Grand Bay, Mauritius.

Top-seeded New Zealander Paul Coll came up against Frenchman Baptiste Masotti in the last eight and had to fight to come through his match.

Masotti's aggressive style of play caused trouble for world No.2 Coll in the opening game, with the Frenchman taking the lead in the match. But the Kiwi remained calm and continued to put work into the legs of his opponent. He moved out to a 7-2 lead in the second game and it wasn't long before Coll equalised. He then stepped up his efforts in the third and fourth games and looked to volley a lot more than he had been doing. The accuracy of Masotti started to dwindle but his spirit and aggression was far from finished.

Despite putting together many spirited rallies with his hard-hitting approach, Masotti was unable to move Coll into the corners on a consistent basis. The New Zealander closed out the third game 11-8 before marching towards the finish line in the fourth game, winning it 11-4 to set up a semi-final clash with good friend Diego Elias on Friday.

"He played really well, he can put the ball away but it's just whether he can have his winner/error ratio in his favour," Coll said.

"Today I thought he played quite controlled and I just had to stick to my game plan and trust that it was working. I thought I played well in the first but just lost the back end of it but I just had to stick to my game plan.

"I knew that if I still played my game plan, even though I lost the first I knew I had to execute my plan a little bit better to win."

World No.3 Mohamed Elshorbagy also booked his spot in the semi-finals after coming through against a Frenchman in four games. The No.2 seed was in terrific form to beat English compatriot James Willstrop 3/0 in round one and started in the same vein against No.7 seed Gregoire Marche, taking the opening game 11-6.

Marche responded however and displayed his incredible retrieval abilities to nullify Elshorbagy's attacks and start to counterattack the world No.3. In a very tight and tense second game, the Frenchman converted his fourth game ball to equalise.

The score reached 8-8 in the third game and a nasty ankle sprain forced Marche off court for an injury break. Upon returning, the streetwise Elshorbagy knew exactly what he needed to do to close the game out and did so by moving his opponent into all four corners. The end came quickly as the ankle problem impacted the movement of the Frenchman. Elshorbagy exploited this, closing out the match out just short of the hour mark to set up a clash with Egypt's Tarek Momen in the last four.

"I thought the match was very high quality & played in the right spirit. I actually didn't see when he fell but I heard the crowd then the replay came on so it mustn't have been good," Elshorbagy explained.

"I have great respect for him for continuing, he didn't need to do that, being in a battle, he understood that he needed to finish the battle and that's exactly what he did, full respect for that and I hope it is not too serious. It is the end of the season so there's time to recover but I just hope it's not too serious.

"Thanks to the crowd for coming and supporting us every day. You guys make it really special for us. It's our first time here and on behalf of all the players, we're absolutely loving our time here so thank you so much for supporting us all."

In the RMCLUB Women's Open - Presented by Expression Networks, the top three seeds all made their way into the semi-finals, with Frenchwoman Melissa Alves having to fight from two games down to overcome the challenge of England's Julianne Courtice in five.

Surprisingly, the pair were doing battle for the first time on Tour, and the 30-year-old Englishwoman, the No.8 seed for the tournament, came flying out of the blocks, racing into a two-game lead having dropped just seven points across the pair of games.

However, Alves was able to find her corners in the third game to bring herself back into the contest, and she carried that momentum all the way into the deciding fifth game where she won the first eight points. That lead was more than enough, with the No.2 seed making her way through to the last four of the competition.

Elsewhere in the women's event, Coline Aumard's career came to an end, as the French woman retired from the sport following defeat to her good friend and top seed Tinne Gilis. The Belgian won in straight games, with the pair both showing emotion at the end of the match, hugging with tears in their eyes.

"I knew this was going to be her last tournament and it's mixed feelings that I'm her last match on the PSA World Tour. I'm honoured in one way, but very sad on the other side, because I don't want her to leave!" Gilis said.

"I think she can be very proud of herself and what she's achieved in the last years. I think a lot of people are very proud of you. You've been a big help for everyone and have always been very kind. I think, knowing that you're going to live here in Mauritius and everyone's going to take such good care of you, the facilities here are amazing, you'll be fine here with [husband] Adam. I'm very happy for you and I wish you all the best in the future."

Aumard said: "Of course, it's very hard to find words right now but I think you can see how happy I am to be here. I mean, it's happy tears, you know?

"Something very nice is coming for me and Adam and I feel very proud of myself and very honoured to be on this court day to play my last match because it's where I'm starting my new chapter. Sharing that with my new home is very special and thank you so much for being here watching me today."

Egypt's Farida Mohamed won the other match of the day in the women's event, beating Frenchwoman Marie Stephan in straight games, while Enora Villard received a walkover through to the last four after Scotland's Lisa Aitken had to withdraw from their quarter final contest through illness.