QF: Paul Coll 3-0 Zahed Salem

[4] Paul Coll (Nzl) 3-0 [14] Zahed Salem (Egy)     11-8, 11-9, 11-6 (47m)

It’s Coll in three for a first world semi-final …

What is incredible with Paul, is that he came on court today, truly fresh as a rose. “I worked hard back at home to backup those matches” he commented at the end. And that’s exactly what he did.

He played a very solid first game, against a no pressure Zahed, improved, fit, and with the same style of play than Superman. But today, the error count makes the difference I believe. In the whole match, Paul made a single error, at the start of the third. And that must be so frustrating for the opponent, giving it all, playing some superb squash, seeing all the might be winners coming back with dividends, and never being able to force errors out of him…

First game is crucial as I said: very close the whole way, with Paul just a couple of points ahead, then 6/6, 7/7, 8/8. And three errors to finish from the Egyptian, all credit to the Kiwi, forcing those mistakes out…. 12m first game.

The second is again some stunning squash, and if Zahed didn’t start well at all, 3/0, 4/1, 7/2, 8/4 for Superman, the Egyptian produced a quality of squash that I hope he’ll be proud of. Both mentally, physically, tactically, it was perfection, and the Kiwi saw his gap melt dangerously, 7/8.

An absolute gem of a rally at 9/7, with Zahed in control and wining point in the racquet, just clipping the tin – his only error of the game. 10/7 game ball for Paul. Again, Zahed finds shots and solutions to claw back, but it’s Paul again, 15m game.

The third is dominated by Paul, too many errors from the Egyptian in particular at the start of the match, giving too much confidence to the Kiwi… a stop as Zaza bangs his head against the left wall, a few minutes at 3/2 Paul, but it’s still Paul in control, despite huge effort from the Egyptian, 9/4. Zahed got very frustrated at the end as one of his shots was called not up, while he was adamant it was good, and not happy he was at the end, 11/6, 16m – including a 5m stoppage.

Paul in his first ever world semis: in my eyes, on that court, enhancing his front game, he is definitely a contender.

PAUL:
I’m very happy to be in the semi-finals of a World Champs, it was something that was a minimum goal going into the tournament.

I’ve got to put that behind me now, even though I’m very happy to be in the semi-finals, I don’t want to stop there. I’ve just got to regroup after this, enjoy the moment while it lasts and watch the match later.I just wanted to dominate today and I knew I had to be more explosive to the front.

Yesterday I felt like I got a bit dominated and my natural game was taken away from me, so I wanted to step up today and really take the game to Zahed. He had a tough match yesterday as well, so I knew it was going to be about who could dominate today. I feel like I did that for most of the game which got me over the line.

The ElShorbagy brothers both quality players, I just hope it takes about three hours and then tomorrow I’ll play whoever wins.