9:35 pm
25 May 2024

Coll Crushes Asal To Make Third Windy City Open Final

28 Feb 2024

Title-holder Paul Coll needed just 30 minutes to overcome Mostafa Asal in the semi-finals of the Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family to reach the final of the PSA World Tour Platinum event for the third time in a row.

The victory marked former world No.1 Asal's quickest defeat in a best-of-five-game Tour match in five years!

In the women's event, Nouran Gohar will also have the opportunity to retain her title after defeating Egyptian rival Hania El Hammamy at the University Club of Chicago.

World No.3 Coll, who won the 2022 Windy City Open and was runner-up in the 2020 edition, had not beaten Asal for almost two years - but continued the accurate and patient squash that had taken him to the last four to reach his third Platinum final of the season.

"Mostafa is a really tricky opponent, so I had a clear game plan in my head, but it's all about executing it," said Coll after his sensational 11-6, 11-3, 11-1 victory.

"I'm stoked with how I came out aggressively and played at the pace that I wanted to play at. I took the game to him, which I haven't quite done in the past, so I'm really happy with that and I'm looking forward to another battle tomorrow.

"This season I've felt that level again [the level that took him to World No.1]. That's some of the best squash I've ever played, but I'm trying to evolve as a player, I'm adding stuff and getting to a level where my squash is better than that. I just need to keep working on it and keep executing it in big semi-finals and finals."

Coll will go up against world No.1 Ali Farag in a repeat of the 2018 final. The New Zealander remains the only person to beat Farag this season, following wins in the US Open and Hong Kong Open finals.

Farag earned his place in his second Windy City Open final after coming back from 2/1 down to oust fellow Egyptian Mazen Hesham. It's the eighth successive tournament in which Farag has reached the final and follows up his win over Hesham in the Houston Open final less than two weeks ago.

"I had to dig very deep, mentally, physically and tactically," Farag said.

"For the first game and a half Mazen was outplaying me. He was hitting better length, better winners and had a better balance overall. Mazen and I are very good friends off court, but on court the two of us want to kill each other, we want to win."

Women's world No.3 Gohar is through to back-to-back Windy City Open finals after she defeated world No.2 El Hammamy in a repeat of the 2022 Windy City Open final.

El Hammamy had won their most recent match at the Florida Open last month - a 99-minute epic - but Gohar was able to gain her revenge with a clinical performance. El Hammamy clawed back a game after she went 2-0 down then, in the fourth, took a huge tumble after tripping over Gohar's foot.

She soon returned to court but was powerless to stop Gohar from closing out an 11-4, 11-8, 6-11, 11-5 victory to set up a final meeting with world No.1 Nour El Sherbini.

"Playing Hania in the semis is not easy, but I think I had a good game plan with my coaches before the match and I executed it pretty well," said Gohar, who will compete in her third final of the season.

"I hope I can carry on that form for tomorrow's match and I'm looking forward to tomorrow's final. In four or five matches I've been leading 2/0 and then she's won the third and I've managed to close it out in four. I think I had that experience in the back of my mind and I knew that if I got a new ball it would be a fresh start. I told myself it was 0-0 and there was just one game you had to win."

El Sherbini, the 2020 Windy City Open champion, has reached her fifth final at this event after she battled past England's Georgina Kennedy to win 3/1.

The reigning World Champion had never lost in her eight previous matchups with Kennedy, but was made to work for her place in the final in Chicago, needing 45 minutes to complete an 11-5, 8-11, 12-10, 11-8 win to reach her seventh PSA final of the season.

"It was a tough match, Gina was playing really well, and she's been playing amazingly the whole tournament," said El Sherbini.

"I knew it was going to be a tough one. We had some tough matches last year, so I'm happy I won and I'm looking forward to tomorrow's finals. When you're not playing your best squash, you have to push yourself mentally and physically and believe you can win even if you're not playing the squash you want to play."