A win and a loss for the New Zealanders in the quarter-finals of the Manchester Squash Open.
Paul Coll avenged his World Championship final defeat against world No.4 Tarek Momen with a hard-fought 3-2 win over the Egyptian to book his place in the semis, while Joelle King was beaten in four games by top seed Camille Serme of France in her quarter-final.
For Coll it was just reward after he was outclassed in November’s World Championship title decider and beaten by Momen at the Troilus Gold Canada Cup three months later.
The Egyptian put most of the early points on the board to go a game ahead following a sloppy start from Coll, but it was role reversal in the second as six unforced errors contributed to Momen’s failure to hold onto his lead.
Coll was far more composed in the third as he punished Momen on the backhand side in particular and nullified his opponent’s attacking potential to take the lead for the first time.
The world No.5 from Greymouth raced into a 7-3 lead in the fourth but a loss in concentration enabled Momen to come back and snatch a lifeline from the jaws of defeat.
However, the match was soon Coll’s as he held his nerve in the decider to seal a 4-11, 11-3, 11-9, 9-11, 11-7 victory in 75 minutes which will see him play world No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy for a place in the final.
“I’m stoked, I set myself a goal of winning a lot of these ones when we first come back and it was a big one there against Tarek,” said Coll.
“He’s got me the last two times 3-0 and that annoyed me a little bit. I was disappointed with how I started but I think I found my range and got my tactics sorted. I was very happy in the end but a little disappointed again in the fourth, I let a 7-3 lead slip pretty poorly, but I’m happy to come back in the fifth and close it out.
“[Before the match] I was trying to get myself in a good head space with a bit of breathing work to calm me down. I’ve been speaking to my mental coach and we’ve been speaking about playing squash like I play monopoly. I play monopoly very intensely but I also smile a lot, so it’s about trying to get a combination of both and keeping me relaxed.
“I’ve had a problem of getting too pumped up and too tense, so I’m trying to combine the two and that’s why I do a bit of breathing techniques during my warm-up.”
For King the match against Serme was what might have been after she had several opportunities to win the first game but dropped it 10-12 as the pair played out a high quality contest.
The lead changed hands multiple times, with King squandering three game balls as Serme came back to take five points unopposed to take a one-game advantage.
There was no let-up in intensity in the second game, where it was Serme’s turn to throw away a lengthy lead as King fought back from 7-3 down to draw level on games.
However, the Frenchwoman responded brilliantly in the third as she ramped up the pace and her ball control, coupled with a drop in accuracy from King, enabled her to restore her lead for the loss of five points.
The world No.3 played an outstanding fourth game to complete a 12-10, 9-11, 11-5, 11-4 victory in 56 minutes to end King’s defense of the tournament.. King will now play in the Cairo in the World Tour Finals starting 28 September.