King and ElShorbagy lift New Zealand Open Titles
Top seed Joelle King and second seed Mohamed ElShorbagy are the 2022 New Zealand Open champions after they beat Tesni Evans and Paul Coll at the Trustpower Baypark Arena in Tauranga.
World No.5 King has captured the 15th PSA title of her career – and her first on home soil since 2008 – after a dominant 11-4, 11-6, 11-5 victory over Evans saw her capture the women’s PSA World Tour Silver title. It’s King’s first PSA title since April’s Manchester Open and her first of the 2022-23 season. King becomes the first women’s New Zealand Open champion since 2009 and the first Kiwi to take the title since the legendary four-time World Champion Dame Susan Devoy in 1993.
“We get asked a lot, what’s your favourite tournament to play, and I haven’t had the chance to say New Zealand because we haven’t had a tournament for so long, but it’s 100 per cent playing here at home,” said King afterwards. “I’ve been sort of nervous during the day all week, but once I arrive and I see the court and I see everyone here who I know and they’re supporting me, it just kind of goes away as soon as I step on the court. It hasn’t kind of sunk in yet. Obviously, a bit later on I’ll be able to enjoy it. I’m super pleased with how I’ve played all week.”
In the men’s event ElShorbagy won the 47th PSA title of his career as he came back from a game behind to end Coll’s hopes of lifting the trophy in front of his home crowd.
Greymouth-born Coll made a fabulous start to the match as he fed on the energy from the crowd to sneak the opening game, but a fired-up ElShorbagy came out all guns blazing in the second game. The Englishman won the next three games without reply to become the first men’s New Zealand Open champion since Paul Steel in 1993.
ElShorbagy’s victory also sees him become the youngest man ever to reach 500 PSA wins at the age of 31 years and 10 months, while he is only the third man to achieve that milestone after his coach Gregory Gaultier (587) and Nick Matthew (518).
“Paul is a great rival and we’ve had amazing matches over the years,” said ElShorbagy. “When it comes to rivals, you don’t win every time and you don’t lose every time, we’re going to play probably next week and the week after, he’s probably going to get another win over me and I’ll get another win over him, that’s how it is between rivals. “Both families [Coll’s and King’s], you have raised two great human beings. We love having them on the tour.”
Day FIVE : Home favourites through to finals in Tauranga
Wales’ Tesni Evans reached her first PSA final in over three years after she upset third seed Nele Gilis at the Trustpower Baypark Arena in Tauranga to set up a mouthwatering final clash with top seed Joelle King at the New Zealand Open.
Gilis, who is ranked just one place above Evans, was in red-hot form in the opening game but the remaining three games were a masterclass from Evans as the 30-year-old controlled the match and made very few errors en route to an 8-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-3 victory in 52 minutes.
“I was thinking this morning when I was coming down to practice, the last time I was in a final was against Joelle in Manchester, which is sort of home for me and how cool it would be to replicate that and play in Joelle’s home now,” said Evans after reaching the eighth PSA final of her career.
“She absolutely thrashed me that day. I’m hoping for something a bit better tomorrow, but I know it’ll be a great final and honestly it’s an honour to share a final with her in New Zealand. I think it’ll be pretty special.”
Meanwhile, King will appear in the title decider in front of her home fans after she overcame Gilis’s younger sister, Tinne, 11-6, 11-5, 11-4 in 36 minutes. King will feature in her 28th PSA final – her first on home soil in a decade – and the World No.5 will look to claim her 15th PSA title when she takes on Evans, an opponent she has beaten in four of the seven matches the pair have played.
“Who knows how many more times I’ll get to play at home?” said King. “I just want to make the most of it and be here at the end of the week. This is where I grew up. Everyone loves a party here, they love and appreciate good sport, but they come to have a good time and that’s always how I’ve kind of approached squash.”
The men’s final will see another Kiwi favourite – top seed Paul Coll – lock horns with second seed Mohamed ElShorbagy in a repeat of last week’s Carrus Nations Cup final, which ElShorbagy won to bring home the title for England.
Greymouth-born Coll, the World No.2, overcame Qatar’s seventh seed Abdulla Al Tamimi by an 11-9, 11-8, 11-4 scoreline. That win sees Coll avenge his shock defeat to Tamimi in the second round of September’s QTerminals Qatar Classic and he will now appear in his 35th PSA final, and his first in New Zealand for six years.
“There are so many people in the crowd that have helped my career from a junior, when I was pretty average, until now.“Coaches, friends, competitors, family, definitely everyone in the crowd [that’s been involved] at a stage in my career this week, it is a bit of a celebration with them for me, we’ve achieved a lot in the last 12 months. To be home and to be able to celebrate with them, it’s pretty special. I’m enjoying the week just for that reason.”
ElShorbagy has reached his 75th PSA final after defeating Frenchman Victor Crouin 11-9, 11-8, 11-4. That means ElShorbagy will go joint-fifth with England’s Nick Matthew on the list of all-time men’s PSA final appearances.
ElShorbagy – who is aiming to capture his 47th PSA title – will be the youngest man to reach 500 wins on the PSA Tour if he gets the better of Coll in the final. It will be their 17th meeting on the PSA Tour, with ElShorbagy winning 11 of them so far, including their most recent match in the U.S. Open quarter-finals last month.
“Paul has done amazingly playing us in our home countries all these years,” said ElShorbagy. “Tomorrow, for me, it’s just going to be another Silver final. He definitely has more than me to lose tomorrow, but I do think that we are the final that everyone wanted to see, and I hope that we give a good final for everyone tomorrow.”
Day FOUR : Quarter-Finals part two
Evans downs Perry as the semi-finalists are settled in Tauranga
Wales’ Tesni Evans made it back-to-back wins over Sarah-Jane Perry as she sent the second seed out of the quarter-finals of the women’s Barfoot & Thompson New Zealand Open taking place at Tauranga’s Trustpower Baypark Arena.
“I’m really looking forward to that,” said Evans afterwards. “It’s going to be very tough, she’s in very good form. She played great last week and great this week already. I played her in Nantes in September, so at least I’ve played her pretty recently, but it’s going to be very tough. It’s a completely different game style to today, but I’m well up for it and I’m going to give everything I’ve got for tomorrow.”
“I’m basically playing in front of my home crowd because Paul’s entire family is here and I love them as much as I do my own,” Gilis said. “It kind of added an extra pressure and I was actually very nervous at the start. It means a lot to me to play in front of them. I spend most of my day with them, just hanging around them, and I feel the love and it really helps my game on court. I just feel so relaxed and happy at the moment with them around.”
In the men’s Robertson Lodges New Zealand Open, Mohamed ElShorbagy booked his spot in the last four for a third successive PSA event after he dispatched training partner Leandro Romiglio. Romiglio, the Argentinian No.1, was coming off the back of a superb win over No.5 seed Saurav Ghosal in the previous round and more than played his part in an entertaining match, which went the way of Englishman by an 11-4, 11-9, 11-5 margin.
“It can be a good thing or a bad thing [playing a training partner] because a lot of the players, when you play them for the first time on tour, I would have enough experience to know how to play them because of the stage, but it’s the first time he’s on a really big stage on the PSA World Tour,” ElShorbagy explained.
ElShorbagy will lock horns with Victor Crouin in the next round in what will be a repeat of the Qatar Classic final, which ElShorbagy won to take the first Platinum title of the season. Crouin beat USA’s Andrew Douglas 11-2, 11-7, 13-11 victory to reach his fifth semi-final of the season.
“I’m very happy, though it’s quite late, I’m usually already in bed by 9pm,” said Crouin. “I’m going to go back and get a good night’s sleep, then tomorrow I will do some video analysis. I’ve played Mohamed a few times, but I’ve watched him thousands of times on SQUASHTV. I need to remind myself of my strengths instead of playing on his weaknesses because he doesn’t have many of them.”
Day THREE : Quarter-Finals part one
Paul Coll and Joelle King have put in top performances to reach the semifinals of the New Zealand Squash Open in Tauranga, both scoring straight game victories in front of a capacity and enthusiastic crowd at the Trustpower Arena
Coll faced off against the sixth seed and tour veteran, English lefthander Adrian Waller. Both players took the first game to settle into their stride but Coll, familiar with the court after several matches in the last week, took it comfortably enough in the end, 11-7, 11-6, 11-9 in 37 minutes.
“I’ve got a whole row of family here from Greymouth,” said Coll, “about 24 here tonight and 35 are coming tomorrow, so there’ll be five people left in Greymouth. It’s one of my tactics to focus on the left-handers’ backhands, and the backhand is now one of my favourite shots, especially on the glass court. He was good, played some lovely lobs, very accurate and with his big wingspan he managed to whip a few past me. Hopefully I’ll get a five minute ice-bath, some kai and will chill out in the rest of the evening.”
Coll takes to the court again in the semi-final on Saturday against seventh seed Abdulla Al Tamimi who won 11-5, 11-5, 11-5 over Canadian David Baillargeon.
King managed to take advantage of 25 year-old American Sabrina Sobhy carrying a possible injury. The New Zealander managed to impose pressure in the front court, forcing her opponent into a speculative but high risk attacking game. King made the most of her opportunities and achieved a decisive victory in three games, 11-2, 11-6, 11-6.
“Anyone who knows Beans knows she wasn’t fully fit today,” said King. “When someone’s slightly off you know you have to keep your focus, and I did that today. Yes I tried to impose myself like Mohammed ElShorbagy – we’ve had the same coach for a little while now and we’ve trained together a fair bit. I’m very pleased with how I played out there. I thought everything came together nicely, I was hitting my targets well. I haven’t lost on this court, but let’s not jinx that.”
For King, 34 her next match will be against Tinne Gilis from Belgium who was a straight games winner over Japan’s Satomi Wantabe 12-10, 6-11, 11-5, 11-9 in her quarterfinal.
Day TWO : Coll and King through to Quarters
King ranked No 5 in the world moved past Australian Jess Turnbull in 42 minutes with an 11-3, 11-9, 11-6 triumph after easing through the first game. However Turnbull ranked 70 showed some resolve and variety in her game in the second and third games.
“I was 5-love up in the first. It took me by surprise how well I was hitting the ball. She’s a tricky opponent and ranked a lot lower than me, but I feel she has a good skills. She’s one of those players that if you’re not accurate enough she’ll put the ball away. But I’m happy to come away with a win.”
King now faces Sabrina Sobhy, who came from two games down to dent Hong Kong’s Lee Ka Yi.
Earlier men’s world No 2 Coll beat Timothy Brownell 42 minutes to progress to the quarter-finals where he will face sixth seed Adrian Waller.
There were a number of significant upsets in the both the men’s and women’s draws in other second round matches as men’s fourth seed Miguel Rodriguez was beaten in three close games by Canadian David Baillargeon while Argentine Leonardo Romiglio won a marathon five game match over fifth seed Saurav Ghosal. Eighth seed Sebastien Bonmalias from France was also beaten, losing in straight games to American Andrew Douglas.
Thursday is the first half of the quarter-final schedule with the second half on Friday.
Day One : Mixed fortunes for Kiwis
The big names will be on court for the second round of the New Zealand Squash Open in Tauranga with plenty of pressure on reputations as the knock out tournament gets serious.
World No 2 Paul Coll faces American Timothy Brownell at 59 in the rankings at 6.45pm while fifth ranked Joelle King is at 7.45pm at the main Trustpower Arena venue against Australian Jessica Turnbull ranked 70th at 7.45pm.
Earlier in the day former Egyptian great, now playing for England, Mohamed ElShorbagy the second seed takes on England’s Charlie Lee, while third seed and world No 10 Victor Crouin of France makes his first appearance at the tournament against Hong Kong’s Henry Leung.
Women’s second seed Sarah-Jane Perry (England) plays Tomato Ho (Hong Kong) and third seed Salma Hamy faces Japan’s Satomi Watanabe while Nele Gilis from Belgium, the fourth seed opens proceedings at 1pm against Hong Kong’s Tsz-Wing Tong.
Meanwhile day one had mixed results for the two Kiwis on court as wildcard Kaitlyn Watts was put through to the second round of the after her first round opponent, Scotland’s 32-year-old Lisa Aitken, withdrew citing injury without hitting a ball.
Aitken had spent time training at the Devoy Club in the Bay of Plenty in the past, but a foot injury put paid to her making an appearance at her old club.
Edinburgh-based Watts, 21 a wildcard from Palmerston North, now plays Welsh sixth seed, Tesni Evans ranked 14 in the world while Watts, is 88. They play at 2.45pm at the Devoy Club.
Baillargeon showed a little bit of feistiness later in the game as Chileshe ranked 97th forced his way back into the contest. However the Canadian eventually controlled his play to force errors in his opponents game and now plays fourth seed and 13th ranked Miguel Rodriguez (Colombia) in the second round.