Home Hero Al Tamimi Conquers Coll To Make Qatar Classic L16
6 Sep 2022
In the shock of the tournament, Qatari Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi, ranked 44 in the world, stunned New Zealand's world No.2 Paul Coll - coming from behind to win a 94-minute 3/2 marathon to reach the last 16 of the QTerminals Qatar Classic.
Al Tamimi, who was a doubt ahead of the event due to a potential national service call up, put in an incredible performance in the PSA World Tour Platinum event on his home court at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha.
The Qatar No.1 pushed Coll - double gold medallist in last month's Commonwealth Games - hard in the opening game, with his shot-making catching the No.2 seed and 2021 finalist out a number of times in a tight 11-9 defeat.
Al Tamimi proved that performance was no fluke as he brought the home crowd to life in the second game with a brilliant showing as he chalked off Coll's lead with a hard-fought 11-9 win of his own.
The No.2 seed, though, then showed glimpses of the form that took him to world No.1 last season as he opened up an 8-3 lead before an incredible run from Al Tamimi saw the home favourite storm into a 9-8 lead.
Coll fought back and had a game ball at 10-9, only for a high-risk drop from the back to pay off for Al Tamimi who levelled at 10-10.
In a frenetic ending to the third game, both Al Tamimi and Coll had crucial game balls, with the Qatari eventually converting his third to take a morale-boosting 2/1 lead with a 16-14 win.
Al Tamimi led 6-3 in the fourth game as the crowd sensed a historic upset, only for a revival from Coll, who had struggled for length and with his movement, to take the match into a fifth with another 11-9 win.
Despite Coll taking the first two points of the final game, Al Tamimi continued to look confident, with the home crowd backing him vociferously. The 27-year-old, who balanced his usual high-risk attacking flair with some intelligent court craft, began to pull away and held a commanding advantage with four match balls at 10-6.
Although Coll saved one match ball, he could do nothing about a typically stylish winner from the Qatari, who thumped the glass in joy as he completed the incredible performance with an 11-7 win to huge cheers from the home fans.
After the match, Al Tamimi said: "That's by far [the result of my career].
"I've been very close before against the top guys. I always have a lead, I managed to choke it then.
"I tried not to think about it at all. I was cramping from game three to the fifth in my fingers, I tried not to show it to Paul.
"I was waiting for the opportunities to go for the shots and when it's there, that's the way to beat Paul. I can't be negative, I had to play my game at the right time and I'm happy with the win.
"I love to play at home. I like to show the young kids here, who come to watch, that nothing is impossible."
Elsewhere, Victor Crouin continued his terrific start to the season with a 3-1 win over No.7 seed Joel Makin to reach the third round of the Qatar Classic in his first season as a full-time professional.
The French world No.18, who last year balanced his squash career with studying at Harvard University, impressed in reaching the final of last week's inaugural Zed Open and made a brilliant start to his match today against Makin.
Crouin made a rapid start to his match against the world No.7, who enjoyed a 3/0 head-to-head record against Crouin, with an 11-9 win in the first game.
The Welshman, who won a silver medal at this year's Commonwealth Games, responded well in the second and moved Crouin around the court as he levelled the match with an 11-6 victory.
Makin continued to impress at the beginning of game three as he took a 5-1 lead, before the two players drew level at 8-8. As the game wore on, Makin appeared to be struggling with an injury and Crouin found his mark increasingly frequently to reclaim the lead with an 11-9 win in the third game, before completing the upset with an 11-8 win in the fourth.
Afterwards, Crouin said: "I came in and just wanted to win one game.
"I just wanted to win the game and I believed that I could win the match. After winning the first game I knew I could go and get the win. I'm really happy about that."
Also through to the next round is world No.1 Ali Farag, who received a walkover after an injury to Cesar Salazar, and defending champion Diego Elias, who overcame a spirited performance from India's Saurav Ghosal to progress. The Peruvian Puma recovered from a shaky start to record an 11-9, 15-17, 11-9, 12-10 win and go into a third round clash with Switzerland's Dimitri Steinmann, who came from behind to beat Mexico's Leonel Cardenas 3/2 in a hotly-contested match.
"I won my biggest title here last year and played one of my best matches of my career [in last year's final against Coll]. I think I've always played great here. I guess I just have to get used to the court again and I'll be ok," Elias said.