New Zealand world No.13 Paul Coll claimed one of the biggest scalps of his career after he defeated former world No.1 James Willstrop of England this morning to reach the quarter-finals of the US$150,000 El Gouna International Squash Open, World Series tournament in Hurghada, Egypt.
Coll, 24, played his trademark game to retrieve everything Willstrop threw at him courtesy of his pace around the court before finishing off any openings thanks to some solid, straight hitting.
“I’m extremely happy right now,” said Coll after his 11-4, 11-8, 11-7 victory. “I grew up watching James so just to be competing at the same level as him is special – but to beat him is amazing, I’m ecstatic,” said Coll who hails from Greymouth and is at a career-high ranking of 13.
“When we played in New York [at the Tournament of Champions] he outplayed me and I learnt a lot from that one. I got sucked into playing his pace and his lines – and he’s the best in the world at that. It was a lesson and I went away and made the changes that I needed to make sure I improved.”
It doesn’t get easier for Coll as he now plays the new world No.1 and the current British Open Champion, Frenchman Gregory Gaultier on Wednesday morning (NZ time).
Gaultier has made it 16 matches unbeaten in 2017 and quickly eased past Egyptian qualifier Mazen Hesham in just 24 minutes in his second round match.
Gaultier, the oldest ever world No.1 at 34, has lifted the Swedish Open, Windy City Open and British Open titles in recent months. The last time Gaultier and Coll faced off it was a four game victory for the Frenchman in October last year at the World Championships.
Meanwhile Joelle King from the Waikato will play her second round match at the Women’s World Championships also at El Gouna against fifth seed Laura Massaro (England) tomorrow morning. King is the ninth seed at the tournament.
The El Gouna Championships and the Women's World Championships will be on SquashTV from the 7-14 April. To rewatch any of our Kiwi players past matches sign up to Squash TV here using the promo code NZ50 to receive 50% off your first 3 months.
Paul will be on SquashTV at 6:45am on Wednesday 12th April. Tune in and cheer him on.
Good luck to our kiwis!