[Q] Paul Coll (Nzl) 3-0  Tarek Momen (Egy) 11/7, 13/11, 11/4 (57m)
When Nele Gilis, Paul’s adorable girlfriend asked him “who do you think is going to win”, I told her well, the court is Paul’s, the conditions are perfect for him, hot and bouncy – when they last met in t Qatar on a freezing cold court had Tarek written all over, in THAT match that ended with a Paul cramping – but will he physically be able to stand another match after having 325 minute of squash in the legs, compared to the 164 for Tarek? That is the question I said.
Her answer “oh, he is incredibly fit. After the match last night, he said he felt fresh as if the match had lasted 20m, and he felt very fresh this morning…”
The first game is crucial I feel. It was going to be a mental battle out there, as so often. Between the shot maker and the shot retriever, both from Hell I might add, who was going to make the other one believe he didn’t stand a chance?
1/1. 2/2. 3/3, 4/4. 5/5. It looks balanced but it’s not. Tarek is attacking and attacking, but the shots keep coming back, and again, and again. In the process, the Egyptian makes 4 errors in a short time, and I feel he is running out of options.
He knows he should play fast and furious, attacking at will, but the court is not rewarding him today, and even when he plays and finds sublime winners, Paul is there, retrieving them, again and again, taking Tarek’s confidence away. And yes, the rallies are gruellingly tight, and accurate, and superb squash, but after so much work, Tarek’s got nothing to show for, when he loses the first game, 11/7 in 16m.
If yesterday he was able to twist and turn James playing at a ridiculous pace, today, he plays at Paul’s pace, he plays Paul’s game, and quite logically, Paul is better at it. Getting into the Egyptian’s skin, he has to time to adapt his backhand drive that doesn’t look like much at first sight, but is bleeping efficient, a bit of an Ali Farag style, false pace. He has the time to adjust his short game as well, and like Lee Beachill a few years ago, one attack is enough: Tarek is just coming from so far back, he is mistiming the ball slightly and just cannot retrieving them. Weird and disheartening for the Egyptian I’m sure.
The second is as close as the first one but the whole way! From 6/6, it looks like Tarek might have found a way, but it’s back to 8/8. The rallies are ridiculous of attacking/retrieving, still played at a midpace though, that truly suits the New Zealander, who get two game balls, 10/8 after a tin that seems to wake up the Egyptian, who’ll force a tie-break, 10/10, and will set up his own game ball, 11/10. But a tin yet again, unforced only in the name, the pressure is enormous, and it’s 13/11, in 22m.
Tarek needed that game desperately, but admitted that he is not sure he would have been able to win the match even if he took that second game. And the third is only a formality really, even if Tarek kept pushing and working hard, it was obvious to all it was only a question of time: 3/0, 8/1 and 11/4 in 14m still.
I wrote in a previous report that Paul Coll was coming out of age on this event. “Je persiste et signe”, I confirm and sign at the bottom of the page.
Isn’t the PSATour exciting at the moment???
I just felt flat and extremely tired. I have no idea why though, as I didn’t have matches as tiring as he has. I tried to push myself, but I just couldn’t. And to be perfectly honest, even if I took the 2nd, I don’t know if I would have been able to contain him.
All I can say is, congratulations to him, he had a fantastic week, and he deserves this title.
It’s a bit surreal, I had no idea I would be in the final, let alone win it. It’s been an amazing week for me and a real confidence booster. I’m going to have a good Christmas and it will make the flight back to New Zealand a lot more enjoyable.
Over the past six months, I have learned a lot about my game while playing the top guys like Tarek. I know I’m not a flashy player, I don’t flick the ball all over the court, but I have learned to play in my strength game, retrieving, counterdropping and straight drop shot. I like to keep thinking about my game instead of just playing fast and mindlessness.
Physically, I’ve had some tough matches and they’ve all been pretty long. But my body has held up well and I’ve been doing some good recovery. It’s been a long week mentally, so I had to make sure I was switched on and focused the whole time because if you switch off against these guys you pay for it. My body has held up well but it was really tough mentally this week.
Reaching the top 20 has been a goal of mine for a very long time, a lot of people have been telling me that I have the potential to reach the top 20. To actually get there will be completely different and I’m looking forward to finding what January 1st has in store for the Rankings list.
I have a wonderful girlfriend that keeps telling me I can be world number 1, and I was told by my parents that I could do everything I wanted. I didn’t have a great career as a junior, but I have worked hard for a long time.
I want to thank my parents for always believing and supporting me, my girlfriend and all my coaches over the years, they know who they are, I cannot name them all, but they know who they are.