• Motor City Open, Round 2: Elias, Coll cruise to quarters; 7 of top 8 seeds advance

    By Andrew Graham

    Birmingham, Michigan — Top seeds Diego Elia and Paul Coll advanced comfortably to the quarterfinals Thursday in their first taste of action at the 2024 Sturbridge Capital Motor City Open at the Birmingham Athletic Club.

    Four of the eight quarterfinalists are repeats from the 2023 quarterfinals pool: top-seed Elias from Peru, second-seeded Kiwi Paul Coll, third-seeded Colombian Miguel Rodriguez and fourth-seeded Fares Dessouky from Egypt.

    Top-seed Diego Elias from Peru advanced over Cesar Salazar in three short games. (MCO photo)

    All in all, seven of the top eight seeds advanced to the quarterfinals. Eighth-seeded Mohamed Abouelghar did not appear in the tournament, withdrawing prior to the second round. This gave a second bite at the apple for “lucky loser” Rui Soares of Portugal, who had lost on Wednesday (and pushed Timothy Brownell into the #8 seed slot for his match Thursday.)

    With a new life in the MCO, Soares didn’t waste his chance, outfoxing Egypt’s Aly Hussein in a 3-1 win – winning three-straight games to end it.

    It propels Soares to a meeting with “Superman” Coll, the World # 3 player, in the quarterfinals. Unlike his seeded peers playing for the first time Thursday after first round byes, Coll didn’t need any time to adjust to court conditions.

    Two seed Paul Coll cruised over India’s Abhay Singh. (MCO photo)

    “Felt good out there,” Coll said after his 3-0 win over India’s Abhay Singh. “Obviously first match on the court, so I wanted to find my length and my corners. I was seeing it well. So, happy to get through the first round in three.”

    Coll will bring fresher legs to his quarter, as Soares has played twice as much squash in his two rounds.

    “Obviously very happy to get through in three. It saves the body for the later rounds. I’m getting old now, so it’s good to get off in three,” Coll said.

    The only match quicker than Coll’s on Thursday was Elias’ mastery of Salazar, a 2023 quarterfinalist. Salazar managed but 10 points against Elias in the straight-set win.

    Three-time champ Elias has lost just six games at the MCO in three years. (MCO photo)

    “Very happy to get through my first match here in Detroit. I always love playing here in this club,” Elias said afterwards.

    Elias continued his dominant streak of play at the MCO. Since 2020, the “Peruvian Puma” has lost just six total games at the tournament ion his way to three straight championships. He’s won seven MCO matches 3-0 in that same span, including Thursday’s cakewalk.

    Even he isn’t quite sure what powers his excellent form in Southeast Michigan.

    “I always enjoy it. I’ve been coming here since my first or second year on tour, so yeah, I feel like home here,” Elias said.

    Elsewhere on Thursday, ex-Harvard ace Brownell, the top-ranked American, battled for a fifth set with Egypt’s Mohamed ElSherbini. Trailing 2-1 in the fourth game, Brownwell went down 6-3 and appeared headed for a four-game loss. But he fought back to an 8-8 tie, saved a 10-9 match point from ElSherbini and won the fourth game 12-10 to force a decisive fifth.

    Egypt’s Mohamed ElSherbini outlasted American Tim Brownell in five. (MCO phto)

    ElSherbini raced out to a quick 9-1 lead and eventual 11-4 win in the fifth game.

    In a battle of Englishmen, seventh-seeded Adrian Waller rolled past Simon Herbert in three games. And third-seeded Rodriguez and sixth-seeded Swissman Nicolas Mueller both advanced into the quarterfinals with a pair of 3-1 wins, respectively.

    Round 2 (Thursday) results

    (5) Mohamed ElSherbini [EGY] def. (8) Timothy Brownell [US], 3-2 (6-11, 11-7, 11-9, 10-12, 11-4)

    (4) Fares Dessouky [EGY] def. Juan Camilo Vargas [COL], 3-0 (12-10, 11-9, 11-6)

    (1) Diego Elias [PER] def. Cesar Salazar [MEX], 3-0 (11-2, 11-4, 11-4)

    (6) Nicolas Mueller [SUI] def. George Parker [ENG], 3-1 (11-4, 11-6, 8-11, 11-3)

    Rui Soares [POR] def. Aly Hussein [EGY], 3-1 (7-11, 11-5, 13-11, 11-6)

    (2) Paul Coll [NZL] def. Abhay Singh [IND], 3-0 (11-3, 11-6, 11-4)

    (3) Miguel Rodriguez [COL] def. Ibrahim Elkabbani [EGY], 3-1 (11-8, 10-12, 11-4, 11-5)

    (7) Adrian Waller [ENG] def. Simon Herbert [ENG], 3-0 (11-5, 13-11, 11-9)

    Swiss #6 seed Nicolas Mueller advanced into the quarters over George Parker. (MCO photo)

    Quarterfinals (Friday) matchups

    (1) Diego Elias [PER] vs. (6) Nicolas Mueller [SUI] — 6 p.m.

    (4) Fares Dessouky [EGY] vs. (5) Mohamed ElSherbini [EGY] — 6 p.m.

    (2) Paul Coll [NZL] vs. Rui Soares [POR] — 7 p.m.

    (3) Miguel Rodriguez [COL] vs. (7) Adrian Waller [ENG] — 7 p.m.

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