3:34 pm
20 Jun 2024

Elias Conquers Top Seed Coll to Make Second Successive ToC Final

26 Jan 2023

Peru's world No.5 Diego Elias will join an Egyptian trio in the finals of the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions after overcoming top-seeded New Zealander Paul Coll in the men's semi-finals of the PSA World Tour Platinum event at Grand Central Terminal in New York City.

Elias and Coll were facing off for the tenth time on Tour, with Coll coming into the clash with a tight 5-4 advantage over his close friend. It was an attritional start to the first game with both players trying to adapt to the hot and bouncy conditions under the chandeliers of Vanderbilt Hall, as the opening two rallies lasted for five minutes.

The Peruvian was the first to reach game ball but was forced into a tiebreak by Coll, to which the 'Puma' responded with an outrageous backhand cross-court drop to earn other game ball, which he took. The Kiwi straightened up his play in the second and reverted to his strengths of hitting accurate, straight lines to the back corners and follow up with controlled straight drops, going on to level up the match at one game apiece.

Elias, who sits just a place below Coll in the PSA World Rankings, ran out into a lead in the third, one he would not relinquish. The same then happened in the fourth game, as the Peruvian's fitness levels seemed to improve as the match went on. He took the fourth game 11-8 to secure the victory, and to move into a third successive PSA World Tour final, after reaching the same stage in Singapore and Hong Kong.

"I love playing here," said Elias, now in his second ToC final in a row. "It is always a great atmosphere. I always play my best squash here and I am just very happy with this result.

"I don't know if people know, but it is my third Platinum final in a row so I am very happy with this. I have been training so hard for this and I am just happy that I could make another final.

"I am not the same player as I was before. I can keep going for a while, not like before where I would get tired if I played a few tough rallies. I am very happy with this, and it is always great playing Paul. He is a great friend of mine and it is always great playing in the most import stages of the tournament. I think we are now 5-5 in the head-to-head so I hope this rivalry can keep going."

Elias will now face Egypt's Marwan ElShorbagy after the world No.6 put in a convincing performance to defeat Colombia's Miguel Rodriguez and reach his first major final since winning the CIB Black Ball Squash Open in March 2021.

In the women's draw, three-time Tournament of Champions champion Nour El Sherbini came through an exciting four-game battle with compatriot and world No.3 Hania El Hammamy, battling back from a game down to move into a fifth final in New York City.

The 'Warrior Princess' was in scintillating form at the start of every game, but El Hammamy fought back in the first three. The opening game went the way of the world No.3 on a tie-break, and then saved four game balls in the second. However, El Sherbini was eventually able to take it 15-13 to level up the contest.

The slow starts for El Hammamy didn't seem to be a problem for the world No.3 as she constantly found solutions to work her way back in the games. El Hammamy again mounted a comeback and reached 9-9 but after El Sherbini stifled the run to hold a game ball, she hit an excellent length, dying in the back left corner to take a 2/1 lead. The fourth was easier for the former world No.1, who won it 11-5 to book her spot in yet another major final on Tour.

"It's tough and tricky, always, playing Hania and, as you say, it's always a physical game against her. I'm glad I won this time," the three-time ToC champ said.

"It was a bit hard for me to lose the first game and I was very frustrated losing it after having a huge gap and huge lead. As you said, even the third I had a huge lead and then it disappeared again. I think I was doing a lot of mental talks inside the game to keep going and I think it paid off in the end.

"It means a lot, playing here is very special and being able to be in another final at the ToC... It's huge and hopefully it goes my way."

El Sherbini will now face off against world No.1 Nouran Gohar once again, after the defending champion got the better of New Zealand's world No.4 Joelle King in straight games in the opening match of the day.