by Geoff Robinson
Motor City Open
Birmingham, Mich—The final is set for the 2018 Motor City Open presented by the Suburban Collection after the tournament’s top two seeds made quick work of their opposition in Saturday’s semifinals at the Birmingham Athletic Club.
Egypitan Marwan ElShorbagy and Paul Coll of New Zealand are the last left standing. They will battle it out for the championship on Sunday afternoon after convincing victories.
In the first semifinal, Coll, the second seed and World #11, bounced back from a slow start to get by eighth-seeded Nicolas Mueller: 10-12, 11-2, 11-4, 11-6.
Though Mueller (World #27) captured the hard-fought first game, he was unable to find his footing afterwards as he won just 12 more points the rest of the match.
Coll started working Mueller with good length in the second game before finishing off the Swiss with a number of drop shots in close. Frustrated, Mueller started to find the tin, allowing Coll to cruise.
“I didn’t quite find my targets in the back of the court in the first game,” Coll said. “I just really tried to get the ball deeper and make him work, and that seemed like it was the difference.”
With the win, Coll heads to the final in his first MCO appearance. He hopes to add his name to the rafters at the BAC, where his coach and winner of the 2001 MCO, Tommy Burden, is also immortalized.
It will be Coll’s first final since winning the Channel VAS Championship in December of 2016 in England.
“It’s been a good 13 months, so I’m happy to be back in a final,” Coll said. “My coach is up there, so I’m looking to repeat what he did here.”
Waiting for Coll will be top seed and World #5 ElShorbagy, who made quick work of 2015 MCO champion Miguel Angel Rodriguez: 11-8, 11-4, 11-8.
World #23 Rodriguez made a living over the the first two rounds of the tournament by chasing down everything thrown at him. ElShorbagy was a different kind of animal, however, as the Egyptian was hit brilliant winner after brilliant winner.
“He’s a great player,” ElShorbagy said of Rodriguez. “I knew what to expect. The first game was tricky, but I was trying to contain him as much as possible and play my game. I believe accuracy beats speed.”
After a disappointing show in last year’s MCO quarterfinals, ElShorbagy is looking forward to Sunday’s championship match. He’ll be trying to etch his name on the trophy next to the likes of his brother, two-time MCO champion Mohamed ElShorbagy.
“I’ve played this tournament a lot of times and I’ve never reached the final,” ElShorbagy said. “Being in the final tomorrow means a lot to me. I’ll give it everything. (Coll) is a great player and I expect a tough match.”
You can watch the 2018 championship match at TheMotorCityOpen.com. Just scroll to the YouTube box at the bottom of the home page.
(1) Marwan ElShorbagy (Egypt) def Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Columbia) 11-8, 11-4, 11-8.
(2) Paul Coll (New Zealand) def (8) Nicolas Mueller (Switzerland) 10-12, 11-2, 11-4, 11-6
(1) ElShorbagy vs. (2) Coll 4 pm—Court 3