Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) def Paul Coll (NZL) 11-13 11-9 11-5 11-6 (58-min)
Paul Coll has quickly become the Goliath slayer of the young season, and his ranking reflects it. The Kiwi comes into this year’s Qatar Classic with a career-high ranking of #10 in the world. Meanwhile, The Beast’s little brother continues to quietly shine, ranked just outside the PSA Tour’s top-5. Though Marwan fell to Diego Elias in Round-2 of the US Open, he started the new season with a Semifinal run at the China Open, where he fell to Ramy Ashour.
Marwan, More than just the other ElShorbagy
Marwan ElShorbagy is a tactical strategist. It is just as interesting watching him scout other matches, as it is to see him apply what he’s learned with each opponent. He may not have Mohamed’s size or, dare I say, instinctual ability – but that’s what makes Marwan incredibly dangerous. He is a student of every opponent. Like a starving surgical student studying for finals, he takes the time to dissect every opponent’s game before ever taking the court. That work-ethic and recognition of each opponent’s weakness has kept him inside the top-15 for 3-years running; inside the top-7 for the past 17-months. He now owns 6 PSA Tour titles, has reached 14 career finals, and last June, competed in the World Series Finals for the first time. He’s also a hell of a surrogate coach for other tour players who ask for his eyeballs on their match.
Paul “Superman” Coll. Needs no cape to fly
So far this season, Paul Coll took-out Zahed Mohamed and Fares Dessouky to reach the Semifinals of the China Open. He then upset World #2 Karim Abdel Gawad to reach the Round of 16 at the US Open. Two weeks back, he needed only three games to defeat Ryan Cuskelly to advance to the Quarterfinals of the St. George’s Hill Classic. New Zealand’s #1 brings momentum into this year’s Qatar Classic. At the tail-end of last season, he won his third consecutive New Zealand Nationals title, then defended his title at the Mixed World Doubles Championship with partner Joelle King. He’s played in 14 PSA Tour Finals…and won 12 of them. He’s a big match player.
10 balls saved. But no Superman heroics
Elshorbagy consistently put the pressure on early, taking the match in just under an hour – but he had to get through the first game to do it. Paul and Marwan stayed close throughout game-1. ElShorbagy earned an edge, up 9-7, but Paul flipped a switch, regained the lead, and won it on his third game ball.
In the next 3 games, Marwan picked up the pace and dominated the rest of the way. All three featured 10-3 leads from the Egyptian. While Paul saved six consecutive game balls in the second, he was too far in the hole to turn it around. He’d save two more in the third, then two match balls in the fourth before Marwan emerged the victor. (FULL MATCH RECAP)
Marwan ElShorbagy: I am not too happy with my results at the start of the season, I wish I would enjoy my squash more, but I’m happy with the way I play today…Qatar is like home to us Egyptians as the support we get from the crowd is just incredible. I won my second world juniors title here in 2012, and I always remember that moment for as long as I live.
By the way, I made sure to remind Marwan he started the season with a Semifinal run in China. He’s still stuck on those 1st-Round hiccups to Diego Elias at the US Open and Saurav Ghosal at St. George’s Hill. With a win like this over a fellow top-10 player, the hiccups have been cured.