New Zealand qualifier Paul Coll claimed his second major shock of the 2016 Channel VAS Championship at St George’s Hill after he came through a thrilling five-game battle with World No.13 Miguel Angel Rodriguez in Weybridge to reach his first ever PSA M100 semi-final.
The previous two days of action had seen a number of surprise results, with the top two seeds Mohamed ElShorbagy and Omar Mosaad bowing out, while Coll himself had caused a big upset on day one after the World No.33 defeated Hong Kong’s World No.18 Max Lee.
But the 24-year-old from Greymouth raised his game even further against Rodriguez as the duo wowed the gathered spectators at the St George’s Hill Lawn Tennis Club with a series of high-octane exchanges throughout the 102-minute encounter. Coll twice came back from a game behind, before he battled to victory in the decider to wrap up the biggest win of his career by a 9-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-6, 11-6 margin.
“I’m very happy at the moment,” said Coll.
“I’m a bit tired, it was a long match, but I’m excited just to keep playing and to get some experience against these top guys.
“I just tightened up [in the fifth game], got him behind me, and stopped giving away strokes and lets.”
Coll will go up against in-form Englishman Daryl Selby for a place in the final after Selby kept up his terrific recent form with a fine display against Ghosal to reach a fourth straight PSA World Tour semi-final.
The 34-year-old from Essex opened up his tournament with a sensational victory over World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy, and he followed that up with an 11-5, 11-3, 11-6 win over Ghosal to move to within one win of the final.
“I felt like I played really well, I don’t know how it looked from the outside, but I felt like I hit my targets well and can’t have made too many mistakes,” said Selby.
“I don’t think Saurav played badly, I made two mistakes in the match, which says it all really. I guess Saurav still hit winners in the double figures.
“If I keep playing like that I’ll be tough to beat. If someone beats me, they’re going to have to play well, so I’ve just got to keep it going. It’s nice to win 3-0 for once.”
Former World No.1 James Willstrop and Egyptian World No.11 Tarek Momen will go head-to-head in the other semi-final after they achieved respective wins over South African Stephen Coppinger and World No.6 Marwan ElShorbagy.
Willstrop recovered from a game down to take the match in four, and the 33-year-old Yorkshireman is now just one win away from reaching back-to-back PSA World Tour finals for the first time since 2013 after he also made it to the final of the AJ Bell British Squash Grand Prix earlier this week in Manchester.
“I don’t think the tactics really changed that much from either of us, the game kept on the same pattern,” Willstrop said.
“It was just about who was going to come out of the first two games the better. I suppose that’s where I can sometimes impose myself on players, so I’ve got to try and make sure that I can do that.”
Momen, meanwhile, went 10-3 down in the opening game of his match against ElShorbagy, but a drop in intensity from his opponent saw Momen storm back to take the next nine points in a row, and that first game triumph acted as the catalyst for a straight games victory.
“I can’t tell you how pleased I am to win in three today,” said Momen.
“I wish Marwan all the best, I know he is a great player. It wasn’t his day, but I’m sure he can bounce back much stronger.”
Results – Quarter-Finals: 2016 Channel VAS Championship at St George’s Hill
Daryl Selby (ENG) bt Saurav Ghosal (IND) 3-0: 11-5, 11-3, 11-6 (45m)
[Q] Paul Coll (NZL) bt  Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 3-2: 9-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-6, 11-6 (102m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-0: 12-10, 11-5, 11-8 (45m)
 James Willstrop (ENG) bt [Q] Stephen Coppinger (RSA) 3-1: 6-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-6 (59m)
Draw – Semi-Finals: To be Played December 11th
Daryl Selby (ENG) v [Q] Paul Coll (NZL)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v  James Willstrop (ENG)
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