11:25 pm
21 Jun 2024

Coll Carries Home Interest Into New Zealand Open Quarters

7 Dec 2023

Hong Kong's Tomato Ho and France's Victor Crouin came back from two games down to reach the quarter-finals of the New Zealand Open, while home hero and last year's finalist Paul Coll made a triumphant return to Tauranga.

Fresh from his title success in last week's Hong Kong Open, New Zealand No.1 and world No.3 Coll was in fine form in his opening match in the Lucino Vanities New Zealand Open.

Pitted against Indian world No.63 Velavan Senthilkumar - who upset Shahjahan Khan in round one - Coll was initially watchful, before accelerating away to record an 11-7, 11-1, 11-2 victory in 28 minutes.

The top seed, the only Kiwi still standing, will now face Auguste Dussourd for a place in the semi-finals. The Frenchman ended US interest in the event when he defeated Timothy Brownell 11-9, 11-9, 11-8 in 43 minutes.

Fellow Frenchman Crouin, the No.4 seed, was also forced to do things the hard way as he survived a bruising encounter with Germany's Raphael Kandra.

Kandra, who led Crouin 2/0 in this year's British Open before the Frenchman came back to win 3/2, was in top form early on today, with the German covering the court excellently to smother Crouin's attack and earn a two-game lead.

Just as in Birmingham, though, Crouin adapted, finding ways past Kandra's defences with increasing ease as he flipped the match on its head with 11-2, 11-2, 11-4 wins.

In the first Barfoot & Thompson New Zealand Open women's match of the day, No.6 seed Ho found it tough going early on against Egypt's Malak Khafagy and made uncharacteristic errors as she struggled to construct rallies, with Khafagy taking a 2/0 lead through 11-5, 11-6 wins.

In a scrappy third game, Ho looked much improved and she reduced the deficit with an 11-9 win before levelling with a stunning volleyed drop from the back at 10-6 in game four.

Game five was a nerve shredder. With little quarter given as the players competed for space on court, it was Ho who was able to make the decisive breakthrough, converting her fifth match ball at 11-10 to progress.

"She's a tough opponent and she can always make trouble for seeded players so I think I'm a bit lucky to come back!" Ho said afterwards.

Ho faces Tesni Evans in the quarter-final after the No.3 seed, returning to the tour after a lengthy injury layoff, breezed past Hong Kong's Cheng Nga Ching.