5:58 am
14 Jun 2024

Gohar & Coll World Title Bids Underway

11 May 2024

World No.2s Nouran Gohar and Paul Coll began their title challenges on day two of the 2023-24 CIB PSA World Championships with wins over Finland's Emilia Soini and Hong Kong's Tsz Kwan Lau, respectively, at the Palm Hills Club in Cairo, Egypt.

Gohar, who has finished as runner-up in the last three World Championships, will look to go one better this year and put in an emphatic performance to storm past Soini by an 11-2, 11-2, 11-1 scoreline.

The only respite for Soini came in the second game when Gohar received treatment due to a cut on her knee, but it did little to slow the Egyptian down. Gohar has won successive titles at the El Gouna International and the Black Ball Open and will look to continue her fine form against fellow Egyptian Hana Moataz in round two.

"It's always very tricky playing the World Champs," said Gohar afterwards.

"You want to be playing your best squash and peaking at the right time. Having a good start gives you a boost of confidence. There's a lot of factors and playing here in Egypt and in my home club is a big thing for me, and I wanted to put a good performance in for the crowd.

"There's a lot of things going on and I have my whole family here, so there's big support. I'm very happy to get a good start and hopefully it gets better. Right now I'm playing some of my best form and I can't take it for granted - I had this extra pressure two years ago and I don't want to repeat my mistakes again and I'm not really thinking about it."

Men's No.2 seed Coll is also through to the last 32 after a composed performance from the New Zealander saw him limit the attacking threat of Lau to win 11-1, 11-5, 11-5.

Coll, who has just turned 32, reached the final of the 2018-19 World Championships and is attempting to become the first man from New Zealand to win squash's pinnacle tournament since Ross Norman in 1986.

Coll's next opponent will be Mexico's Leonel Cardenas after he beat compatriot Cesar Salazar.

"It's going to be tough [to win the event]," said Coll afterwards.

"There's a few tough Egyptians in the draw in their own backyard, so they're always going to be pretty tough. I'm feeling good, I'm very happy with my game mentally and physically and the way I'm striking the ball is building a lot of confidence and I want to enjoy the week and the process.

"Not many people get to experience this kind of pressure. I approach it like every other tournament and I'm really soaking up the week."