New Zealand’s Paul Coll is through to a first PSA World Tour Platinum final after he defeated World No.4 Karim Abdel Gawad in four games in the Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family semi-finals.
Prior to this clash, the pair had met six times on the PSA World Tour, with the ‘Baby-Faced Assassin’ having won four of those, including the last three. They met in the semi-finals of the Channel VAS Championships at St. George’s Hill in November, where Gawad took the win en route to the title.
It was the Kiwi that opened up playing the stronger squash in the first game, and a run of points through the middle part of the game put him in a comfortable position. He held out to take it 11-5, but the lead did not last long, as Gawad fought back, playing some sublime squash in the second to restore parity in the match.
The third and fourth games followed a similar pattern. Both were very stop-start, with a lot of refereeing decisions playing their part in building tension in the stunning Cathedral Hall at the University Club of Chicago.
It would eventually be Coll that took the victory, after the same match ball was played five times due to a series of let balls. The Kiwi took the win in 80 minutes, booking his place in a first Platinum final, where he will face Egypt’s Ali Farag.
“It was quite draining. It was very tense at the end there. I thought I had won it three times at the end but the ref disagreed, which is fine. I just had to keep my head which was mentally really draining. Right at the end there I just wanted to celebrate but I had to keep my emotions in check and finish the match off.
“Gawad is a classy player and I don’t think either of us were fishing for strokes. Sometimes there are just standard traffic issues. We are both trying to take the ball early, both trying to volley, both trying to clear the ball. Sometimes there is just traffic issues and sometimes it is a simple let.
“I am trying to constantly learn and improve my game. I am not No.1 for a reason and there are areas of my game that I can improve on. I will keep doing that and hopefully I can reach the top. I have found a great coach and I have a great team behind me. It will be my first Platinum final tomorrow and I will be enjoying it!”
 Paul Coll (NZL) bt  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 3-1: 11-5, 6-11, 11-9, 11-9 (80m)