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Mohamed ElShorbagy celebrates his win over Paul Coll during the 2020 Manchester Open semi-finals

Manchester Open SFs: ElShorbagy Halts Coll

World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy has picked up where he left off after prior to the suspension of the PSA World Tour due to COVID-19 after moving through to the Manchester Open final courtesy of a 3-2 victory over World No.5 Paul Coll.

ElShorbagy picked up the final men’s PSA World Tour title before the suspension – the Canary Wharf Classic – which came off the back of a quarter-final exit at the Windy City Open at the hands of Coll, who claimed his first ever win over the Egyptian at the sixth attempt.

It was a high-quality, tactical encounter which saw both players explore all areas of the court in some high-octane, intense exchanges.

Coll twice fought back from a game down to set up a nail-biting decider, where it was nip and tuck until ElShorbagy went three match balls up.

The tension inside the National Squash Centre was palpable as a number of let decisions played out, the most notable of which saw Coll dive full length to return a cross court from ElShorbagy. The Egyptian thought it was a double bounce, Coll wasn’t sure and the video decision proved inconclusive, meaning the tie-break continued.

Until, that is, ElShorbagy finally found a winner to vanquish Coll and set up a final clash with either younger brother Marwan or World No.3 Karim Abdel Gawad.

“It was a high-quality match, I think Paul and I played such a good match together,” said ElShorbagy.

“I think we both made some mistakes here and there but I’m just glad I pulled through in the fifth at the end. I saw [the ball at the end] a double, Paul wasn’t sure. If he wasn’t sure about it, he shouldn’t have called it a double bounce. He should have just said let ball, if I was him I would have done the same.

“It was a big point and he needs to be sure it was double to say it was a double, so fair enough. We both played fair, played high quality, it was a tough battle and I’m just glad to win at the end.

“If you want to stay at the top for a long time, you can’t be the same player every year. You have to change, mix it up and I think I have enough experience now to know my body and understand what works best for me. The court is so huge and I need to use all of it, I can’t just use one side of it.

“I’m doing some things differently this year, it’s been working so far and I think I was able to manage my fitness level during this match better than him even though he is maybe the fittest on tour. But it’s one thing being the fittest on tour and another to manage your fitness throughout the season and I think I did that a bit better than him today.”

The World No.1 continued: “When you play with someone who has never beaten you and then they beat you for the first time, they believe now that they can beat you, so the mentality is completely different. When it was 1-1 and I was 7-3 up in the third, if he had never beaten me before there would be no way he would have come back.

“But because he had the win over me before, he believed he could come back. I made a stupid error when I hit the tin and I should have been more experienced than that, but sometimes when you’re away for a while you remember things during the match.

“I hate to say you learn from losing because why do I need to lose to learn? I want to win and learn within the match. Before the fifth game today, instead of telling myself that I should have finished the match when I was up in the fourth, I told myself that I’ve been in this situation for so many years now.

“I’ve been in this kind of situation against all kinds of great players, so I had to use my experience and be strong mentally. I definitely did that and it’s important to come back tomorrow fresh again.”

[1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [5] Paul Coll (NZL) 3-2: 11-4, 9-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-7 (84m)