New Zealand’s World No.4 Paul Coll is through to the semi-finals of the PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family after he mounted a thrilling comeback to overturn a two-game deficit against 2016 World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad at the University Club of Chicago.
Coll, 29, was the runner-up at the 2019-20 PSA World Championships in Doha, Qatar back in November, 2019 and he will now look to become only the second Kiwi male ever to reach two World Championship finals following a 7-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-6 victory over World No.6 Gawad in 91 minutes.
Gawad’s shot-making abilities were in full flow in the first two games but he tailed off physically as Coll came back into the encounter, and the New Zealander will now take on World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy for a place in the title decider.
“I actually felt good,” Coll said.
“The first two I was up 7-5 or 7-6 but didn’t convert and then he went up 4-0 in the third and I was thinking ‘what is going on’? But I told myself to trust my game and not to get caught up in trying to change to plan B, to trust my ‘A’ game instead. It was working in the first two games, just not quite at the end [of them].
“He is such a classy player, I love watching him so it is a pleasure to play him, he is one of the best ball strikers on tour, so it is so difficult. I will do some recovery tonight, I train this hard back at home to prepare for these sort of matches so I can back up the next day. I’ll jump in the ice bath, smash a lot of food and I’ll be fine.”
ElShorbagy is now just one win away from overthrowing Ali Farag as the men’s World No.1 following an 11-6, 11-7, 11-5 victory over World No.7 Fares Dessouky. ElShorbagy will take the No.1 spot in the August rankings if he reaches the final, while a defeat to Coll in the semi-finals would leave Farag needing to win the event to hold onto the coveted ranking.
The form book is certainly in ElShorbagy’s favour with eight wins to Coll’s one, however Coll did claim his sole win over the Bristol-based Egyptian at the University Club of Chicago during the 2020 Windy City Open.
“I came here for two jobs, to get World No.1 back and to win the World Championship,” said ElShorbagy.
“There is one more match for the first job and two more matches for the second job. I’m really looking forward to that. To all of my opponents, ‘The Beast’ is back, and I’m not going anywhere.”
In the women’s event, Nouran Gohar continued her charge to the World Championship trophy and the World No.1 spot as she dispatched New Zealand’s World No.8 Joelle King by an 11-5, 11-7, 8-11, 11-7 scoreline.
Gohar will take the World No.1 spot from El Sherbini if she matches or beats her compatriot’s results at this tournament, meaning there is still the tantalising prospect of the pair facing off for the ranking and the World Championship crown in the final on Thursday.
“Sometimes I wasn’t finding my length, but I was really happy to adapt again in the fourth game. I really enjoyed the match, it was fun to play,” said Gohar.
“I think I have played Camille [Serme] in one or two World Championships quarter-finals, and I always enjoy playing against her. It is really tough and we have great battles, so I am really looking forward to it tomorrow.”
French World No.4 Camille Serme has reached a fifth World Championship semi-final after she put in a composed performance to beat Egypt’s World No.9 Salma Hany.
“I was trying use the experience more than the pressure today,” Serme said.
“As you could see, she is very talented and she can hit very nice drop shots from the back. When you give her an angle she just hits the nick, so I knew there would be some. Most of the time, I was trying to play wide and tight to the wall so I could be in front of her and play my shots.”
The semi-finals of the PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family take place tomorrow (July 21) and play starts at 17:00 (GMT-5). Action from the glass court inside Cathedral Hall will be broadcast live on SQUASHTV and the channels of contracted broadcasters around the world.
Results – Quarter-Finals (Bottom Half): Men’s 2020-21 PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family
 Paul Coll (NZL) bt  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 3-2: 7-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-6 (91m)
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt  Fares Dessouky (EGY) 3-0: 11-6, 11-7, 11-5 (32m)
Draw – Men’s Semi-Finals: To Be Played July 21st
 Ali Farag (EGY) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
 Paul Coll (NZL) v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
Results – Quarter-Finals (Bottom Half): Women’s 2020-21 PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt  Salma Hany (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-7, 11-7 (35m)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt  Joelle King (NZL) 3-1: 11-5, 11-7, 8-11, 11-7 (57m)
Draw – Women’s Semi-Finals: To Be Played July 21st
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v  Amanda Sobhy (USA)
 Camille Serme (FRA) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)