10:46 am
18 May 2024

New Zealand & England Go For Mixed Doubles Gold

7 Aug 2022

New Zealand's Paul Coll will compete in his second Commonwealth Games final in the space of four days after he and mixed doubles partner Joelle King downed top-seeded Indian pairing Dipika Pallikal Karthik and Saurav Ghosal, the reigning World Champions, 2/0.

Coll, who on Wednesday beat Joel Makin to become the first Kiwi male to win a singles gold, was on top form alongside 2010 silver medallist King as they made light work of the 2018 runners up.

New Zealand took the first game 11-7, with King's power and consistency proving the superior weapon to the impressive racket skills of Pallikal Karthik, who in April returned to the game after three years out following the birth of her twins last October.

The Kiwi pair continued to support each other ably in the second, with an energised Coll covering every inch of the court as New Zealand powered to an ultimately comfortable straight games win with an 11-4 victory in game two.

With a medal now guaranteed in the mixed doubles, King will overtake Australia's Rachael Grinham as the woman with the most doubles squash medals if she and partner Amanda Landers-Murphy beat Malaysian 5/8 seeds Ainaa Amani and Chan Yiwen in Sunday's women's doubles semi-finals.

"Playing in a team with Joelle fires me up massively. I've never fist-pumped so much in a game of squash!" Coll said.

"We were shouting at each other. We just love it. We're a team. It's part of the New Zealand culture that we love playing in a team.

"Joelle is incredible. She has the most energy out of all of us. She just keeps lifting everybody."

New Zealand's opponents in the final will be No.2 seeds Alison Waters and Adrian Waller as the English pair put in a brilliant performance to beat Australia's defending champions Donna Lobban and Cameron Pilley 2/0.

In a largely even match, 38-year-old Waters proved to be the difference. The 2014 silver medallist and former world No.3, who retired from the singles game in 2021, was in incredible form, hitting winner after winner as England took both games 11-8 to reach their fourth mixed doubles final.

Afterwards, Waters said: "Last time, agonisingly, England, were fourth. I'm so glad we've already improved on that. There's no reason we can't break that mould and take gold."

Waller added: "After watching this week and the other teams my nerves are shot and I don't have any left for me!"

There was more joy for the hosts in the men's doubles quarter-finals, with both of England's men's teams progressing to the semi-finals - top seeds Declan James and James Willstrop overwhelming Australia's Rhys Dowling and Cameron Pilley, and 3/4 seeds Daryl Selby and Adrian Waller coming back from 1/0 down to avoid a shock defeat to Canada's 9/16 seeds David Baillargeon and Nick Sachvie.

James and Willstrop's win came off the back of lightning starts in both games, with England taking the first game 11-7 after strolling into a 5-0 lead and then storming into a 7-0 lead on the way to an 11-4 win in game two.

"There's a lot of pressure [being top seeds in a home Games] but that pressure's a privilege. How often are we going to be here, in front of a wonderful home crowd and with me playing alongside one of my squash idols?" James said.

The 2022 World Doubles Champions will face Malaysia's Eain Yow Ng and Ivan Yuen tomorrow, after the 5/8 seeds impressed to overcome India's 9/16 seeds Velavan Senthilkumar and Abhay Singh.

Malaysia won a watchful first game 11-8, before Ivan Yuen went on the attack in the second, with the 31-year-old entertaining the crowd with some brilliant winners as Malaysia reached the men's semi-finals for the first time, meaning Malaysia will have three doubles teams involved tomorrow after the shock quarter-final wins of their two women's teams yesterday.

The other men's semi-final will be a home nations derby contested by Scotland's No.2 seeds Greg Lobban and Rory Stewart, and England's Selby and Waller.

Selby and Waller had looked in trouble when they went down 11-10 in the first game before they levelled the scores with an 11-5 win in the second.

In a tight third game, it was the 2018 silver medallists who were able to snatch the win, as they moved from 8-8 to 11-8.

"It's what we live and breathe for, crowds like this, as everyone has said all week. There's not many times left for me on there and I'll cherish every moment," the 39-year-old Selby said.

If the Scotland performance is anything to go by, the 3/4 seeds will have to play their best squash to threaten Stewart and Lobban, who are developing a formidable partnership after their silver medal at the 2022 World Doubles Championships.

The Scottish duo, who enjoyed raucous support from the stands, ended Australia's run of appearing in every men's doubles final in Games history by beating 5/8 seeds Zac Alexander - a winner in 2018 alongside David Palmer - and Ryan Cuskelly 11-2, 11-9 in 38 minutes.

Afterwards, Lobban said: "The stadium was pumping tonight, when we were standing there waiting to come on we heard the feet stamping. It's a great crowd and atmosphere."

The mixed doubles final will be played on Sunday (7 August) at 19:00 (GMT+1). Play at the University of Birmingham Hockey and Squash Centre will begin with the women's doubles semi-finals at 12:00, with the men's semi-finals scheduled to begin at 13:45.