Qatar Classic 2021. Paul Coll advances to Round-3

Round-2 match recap from Squash Emcee Andy Taylor, Voice of the Qatar Classic.

Since 2017, Andy Taylor has been the voice of the Qatar Classic Squash Championship. With his individual style and delivery, Andy writes and narrates each player’s introduction; highlighting career accomplishments, providing context for fans before each match. As tournament emcee, Andy also interviews the winners and hosts the trophy ceremony at the conclusion of the championship.

In addition to his role with the Qatar Squash Federation, Taylor also hosts Doha’s professional tennis events, the Qatar ExxonMobil Open and Qatar Total Open.

A voice acting veteran, Andy is best known as the Voice of the US Open in New York. There, he has spent the last 20-years shaping the sound of the tennis season’s final Grand Slam; enhancing the fan experience. Informing. Entertaining. Celebrating sport and its colorful cast of characters.

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First meeting. Huge moment for Soares. Steady win for the British Open Champ
[2] Paul Coll -03- (NZL) | Round-2 Emcee Introduction

The #2-seed at this year’s Qatar Q-Terminals Classic; this 29-year-old returns to Doha as the reigning British Open Champion, with a career-high ranking of World #3. And the truth is – this place – these conditions – this atmosphere – have all sparked the flames fueling his relentless rise to the top of the sport. A back-to-back Doha Finalist – 2-years-ago, he reached the championship match of the PSA World Championship on this court; and last year, backed it up with a run to the Qatar Classic Final. Now a 5-time Major Finalist; 2 months ago in Hull, he won his first Platinum the hard way – defeating the top-2 talents in the world, Mohamed Elshorbagy and Ali Farag to claim the title. From New Zealand, competing in his 400th career match on the PSA World Tour, please welcome back Superman, Paul Coll.

R2 — W — Rui Soares -68- (POR) | Score: 11-4, 11-3, 11-5 (26m)
R1 — BYE

  • Consistency. Work ethic. Mental and Physical Flexibility. Unwavering fitness. Paul Coll has become the complete package, and the most dangerous threat to natural, intuitive talents like Ali Farag and Mohamed Elshorbagy
  • That said, Paul’s relentless determination and gutsy court presence is rubbing off on the top Egyptians. All three are learning a lot from one another, pushing each other and the sport itself to new levels of required athleticism
  • On the first point, consistency – Coll has truly delivered over the last three seasons. Since the 2018 British Open, New Zealand’s top talent has reached the Quarterfinals or better in all 19 Platinum Tournaments he’s played
  • Aside from his loss to Simon Rösner 3-years-ago in the Quarterfinals of the 2018 Qatar Classic; Paul’s Platinum losses have only come at the hands of Egyptian names like Farag, Elshorbagy (both), and recently Asal
Rui Soares -68- (POR) | Round-2 Emcee Introduction

Portugal’s top talent – Just 4-days-ago, after a last-minute withdrawal, he received word he was needed in Doha; as the World #68, he qualified for the Qatar Q-Terminals Classic. Then, last night – he seized opportunity by the horns – defeating Mexico’s Arturo Salazar in five-games, becoming the first Portuguese player in squash history to win a Platinum-level match on the PSA World Tour. And the truth is – this 28-year-old has absolutely LIT IT UP since returning from the pandemic’s global loockdowns. In just the past four months, he’s reached four Challenger Finals, captured 2 titles, made his main draw Platinum debut at the British Open, and cracked the PSA’s top-70 for the first time. Tremendous. Making his Qatar Q-Terminals Classic debut – From Portugal, please welcome 8-time Portuguese National Champion, Rui Soares.

  • R2 — L — [2] Paul Coll -03- (NZL) | Score: 4-11, 3-11, 5-11 (26m)
  • R1 — W — Arturo Salazar -51- (MEX) | Score: 7-11, 11-6, 4-11, 11-6, 11-6 (39m) | RECAP
  • Last night, Rui became the first Portuguese player in squash history to win a match at the PSA Platinum level event
  • The victory was Soares’ 201st professional match on the PSA World Tour
  • He now owns 3 PSA Challenger titles in 8 career Finals
  • Back in July, in just his third event after returning from the global pandemic’s lockdowns, he defeated Daryl Selby in the championship match of the Off The Wall Open in Ipswich
  • A few weeks later, he won the Hit & Run Sport Challenger in Brighton
  • When James Willstrop tested positive for COVID before the British Open, eliminating Partick Rooney and Declan James due to close contact; Rui got the call, raced to Hull, and made his main-draw debut at a PSA Platinum event
  • Soares then reached the Final at the Wimbledon Club Open, cracked the PSA’s top-70, and started the new season with a Finalist run at home in Madeira
  • That’s 2-titles in 4-Finals in just 5-months. Someone’s making up for lost time

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Squash Emcee Andy Taylor. Qatar Classic 2020. Champions in Doha 1992 to Today

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For nearly three decades, the Qatar Squash Federation has hosted the sport’s elite at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex. Originally coined the Qatar International, Pakistan’s Jansher Khan captured the first five Doha titles from 1992 to 1996. Canada’s Jonathan Power then won back-to-back Doha titles over Scotland’s Peter Nichol; earning triumphs at the 1997 Qatar International and the 1998 World Championship.

Enter the Qatar Classic Squash Championship

After a two year absence, professional squash returned to Doha in 2001. Rebranded the Qatar Classic, Peter Nichol – now representing England – again reached back-to-back Doha Finals. This time, he captured the first two Qatar Classic titles over Australia’s David Palmer. England’s Lee Beachill and James Willstrop won the next two Qatar Classic titles, before Egypt began its outright Doha dominance.

In fact, since Ramy Ashour became the first Egyptian Doha champion at the 2006 Qatar Classic; the Arab nation has won 13 of the last 15 Doha titles, including three World Championships. Alexandria’s Mohamed Elshorbagy – the only 3-time Qatar Classic Champion – reached a record six consecutive finals on this court between 2012 and 2017. Most recently, Ali Farag won back-to-back Qatar Classic titles in 2018 and 2020. Unfortunately, the World #1 won’t be back in Doha this year to defend the title.

Professional Squash and COVID-19

Like every international sport, the recent global pandemic has created tremendous challenges for squash events worldwide. Due to COVID’s insidious spread, the 2019-20 season ended abruptly in March; immediately following Mohamed Elshorbagy’s victory at the 2020 Canary Wharf Classic.

Without fans, the sport launched its return six months later in Manchester – another Elshorbagy triumph. However, with global cases hitting a second surge, all events in the United Kingdom, United States and Asia were shuttered. The 2020-2021 season was in peril. At the time, as a U.S. resident, Andy Taylor made the difficult decision to suspend all international travel. Reluctantly, he stepped away from his role as emcee at the 2020 Qatar Classic.

Saviors. The Qatar Squash Federation and CIB’s CEO Hussein Abaza of Egypt

Over the next 10-months, Qatar and Egypt were the only two nations to host PSA Platinum events. Without the U.S. Open. Hong Kong Open. New York’s Tournament of Champions. The Windy City Open. And British Open — The sport needed bold and determined intervention.

Cautiously, the QSF moved forward with the Qatar Classic, providing a COVID safe bubble for players and crew. Meanwhile, Egypt’s Hussein Abaza went above and beyond. Remarkably, CIB’s CEO spearheaded two PSA World Tour Finals, the Egyptian Open, two Black Ball Opens and El Gouna International. From September to June, he funded six expensive, top-tier PSA events for both the men’s and women’s tours. Egypt became the hub of the sport – a safe place to compete while vaccinations took hold; while the world recovered.

Thankfully, since July, much of the globe has slowly opened back up. Chicago hosted the World Championships. Hull welcomed the sport’s elite for the British Open. Last month, it was only fitting that the 2021-22 season began in front of the pyramids at Giza. True to form, Egyptian rivals Ali Farag and Mohamed Elshorbagy headlined the event; delivering an exceptional 5-game Final, where Farag lifted his 9th Platinum trophy.

A Sport Back on Track, thanks to human compassion and ingenuity

After September’s Egyptian Open, the U.S. swing was also a tremendous success. From San Francisco to the US Open’s immaculate new Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia; fans responsibly returned, recently tested or fully vaccinated. All starved to once again see the best in the world compete inside the glass.

Now, squash returns to the Arab Gulf for the 17th Qatar Classic Squash Championship.

Thankfully, as global vaccinations continue their ascent, the new squash season is beginning to follow a familiar path. While the past 19-months have been dark, spotlighting the reality of human fragility; it has also been an epoch defined by compassion, resilience and hope. Squash, as a sport and lifestyle, embodies these traits.

When we choose to quiet the noise, steel our determination, and commit to selflessly work together toward collective good; ultimately toward survival — the darkness is no match for our blinding ingenuity.

No, the fight isn’t over. But we’ve hit some astonishing nicks, and continue to edge closer toward “match ball.”