Diego Defeats Defending Champion Coll To Make Maiden British Open Final
16 Apr 2023
Peru's Diego Elias, who will become the first South American world No.1 on Monday, reached his first British Open final after overcoming two-time champion Paul Coll in the semi-finals of the PSA World Tour Platinum event at The Rep Theatre in Birmingham.
The 'Peruvian Puma' had already been assured of becoming the next world No.1 following Mohamed ElShorbagy's early exit from the competition. Appearing in the semis for the first time in his career, Elias came flying out of the blocks, playing at a quick pace, and dropped just seven points across the opening two games.
Coll fought back to win the third game 11-2, with the fatigue looking like it was setting in to Elias's legs. However, an extended break following a collision at the start of the fourth game, which saw the Kiwi require attention to a cut lip, did wonders for the Peruvian. He won the fourth game 11-1 to move through to his maiden British Open final.
"This week has been amazing. Getting to world No.1 and now in the final of the British Open. I can't believe it. I don't want to think too much about it because I have the final tomorrow, but I am just happy, happy to have all my team here with me!" Elias said after his victory.
"I started as fast as I could, attacking a lot. That is why I got tired after the first couple of games and why I tried to throw a couple of balls in and see if they went in. It didn't go my way, but then in the fourth, I tried to push as hard as I could in that game. I didn't mean to hit Paul in the face like that. I am sorry about that, it pretty much stopped the match so I am not happy with that. I am happy with how I stayed calm, though, and happy to win the match in four.
"He is one of the fittest players on Tour, and a close friend of mine. It is always clean on court, it is always tough. It is not easy to win games, like I won the first, second and the last one. I started strong, and I am happy with that. Him winning twice here, he is such an amazing player and hopefully he can come back from this and go back to the top!"
Discussing the final against Egypt's Ali Farag, Elias continued: "We have played many times and he has beaten me a lot so hopefully we change that tomorrow. I am feeling great. It is still early so I can recover and hopefully get that title tomorrow!"
Elias will play three-time runner-up Farag in the Sunday's final. The No.2 seed, who has reached a fourth consecutive final at the British Open, got the better of compatriot Mazen Hesham in a frantic four-game contest.
The Egyptian will get another crack at winning a major title on English soil for the first time in his career. He and Hesham put on a scintillating show, although the match was only 42 minutes long. Farag recovered from dropping the third game to win in four, and to move through to the final once again.
"It was a tough one to navigate, especially against Mazen. We played a couple of weeks ago and he was hitting better lengths than I was and he was dominating the 'T' area for most of the five games," said Farag, the first man to make four successive British Open finals since the legendary Jansher Khan.
"I had to get that on point today and I tried to stand in front of him because he's one of the most skilful on tour. If you give him any easy shot, you're going to be wiggling and you're going to be guessing! So I tried to take that away from him, but to be fair maybe he wasn't at his best in the first two. I'd like to think I played well but that contributed to it."
Gohar assured her continued reign as world No.1 by reaching the final, and also became the first woman since Nicol David to feature in four consecutive British Open finals. She reached this year's final after a clinical performance which saw her overcome the challenge of New Zealand's world No.4 Joelle King, as she won in straight games.
"I wanted to win anyway, even if it had nothing to do with the ranking. I wanted to get into a fifth British Open final, which is big for me. My goal is to win it and I'm just taking it a match at a time," the world No.1 said.
"All credit to Joelle - she's played amazing squash this week and I had to be on my toes to bring something higher than an 'A' game and be ready for everything she was going to throw at me. She's had her whole team here so it gives her a lot of support and in my mind I was ready for a fight."
She will take on compatriot Nour El Sherbini in a final for the 13th time after the 'Warrior Princess' defeated US No.1 Amanda Sobhy in a five-game battle. The American knocked out defending British Open champion Hania El Hammamy in the quarter finals and started their last four contest in great form.
El Sherbini showed her fighting spirit to keep the match alive at times, and she came through in the fifth game to move through to a fifth final at this tournament. The world No.3 will be aiming to claim fourth British Open crown on Sunday, the seventh woman to do so in history.
"I am really happy that I won this one! Amanda beat me last time in five and she is playing unbelievably amazing squash. Beating Hania 3/0 yesterday defines how good she is playing," El Sherbini said.
"I was a bit lucky at the end to have the strokes coming my way. Sometimes it ends like this with a long match, but I was happy it was on my side."