• Motor City Open, Semis: Elias and Coll roll, set up World #2 vs. #3 shootout

    By Andrew Graham

    Birmingham, Michigan — The showdown everyone wanted is set.

    Top seed and World #2 Diego Elias will face off against second-seed and World #3 Paul Coll Sunday to determine the champion of the 2024 Sturbridge Capital Motor City Open at the Birmingham Athletic Club.

    Can Diego do it again? The Peruvian has won the last three Motor City Opens running and has dominated en route to yet another championship match. Coll is back in the finals at the MCO, an event he’s yet to win during his decorated career.

    Elias earned his berth in the final with a win over fourth-seeded Fares Dessouky of Egypt – a rematch of the 2022 MCO final. Elias made quick work of his semifinal foe, 3-0.

    Diego Elias earned his berth in the final with a win over Fares Dessouky of Egypt. (MCO photo)

    After racing out to a 10-4 lead and eventually winning the first game 11-7, Elias turned the screws on Dessouky in the second game, quickly going up 2-0.

    “I think I played pretty good squash today. I felt really good on cour,” said Elias afterwards. “And I think it’s going to help me for sure for the final to win all my rounds 3-love. Just excited for tomorrow.”

    Dessouky, who was looking forward to the challenge of facing Elias as he rebuilds from an injury, couldn’t pull off the upset. Uncharacteristically, he was victim to a number of self-inflicted wounds, sending low shots into the tin and ceding points to Elias.

    After pulling out to a 5-1 lead over Elias in Game Three, it all came undone for Dessouky. (MCO photo)

    Then, in Game Three, after pulling out to a 5-1 lead over Elias, it all came undone for the Egyptian. Elias roared back before a referee’s call Dessouky that disagreed with turned out to be the death knell for his chances. A protracted argument with the official cost Dessouky a stroke, putting him down, 8-7.

    He wouldn’t lead the game again, as Elias won three-straight points to end the match.

    “He’s such a great player, so skillful, so I just have to keep the ball tight to the wall and not let him attack as much as he would like to,” Elias said. “And I’m happy with that. I think at the start of the third, I opened up the court a bit and he started attacking me a lot so I’m happy I could recover from that.”

    The Professional Squash Association has become more strict with protracted player arguments (once commonplace) as the sport heads into its first Olympics in 2028 in Los Angeles.

    “I love playing at the BAC. I’ve always loved coming to this tournament and hopefully I can make it four,” Elias said of his fifth-straight MCO finals appearance.

    The second match was even less competitive on the final scorecard, despite the best efforts of Colombia’s Miguel Rodriguez to keep up with Coll amid an array of long rallies. For all the long rallies, Coll was rarely, if ever, out of control. He struggled to recall a time he played so clinically.

    Two-seed Coll only hit the tin once during his 3-0 win over Rodriguez. (MCO photo)

    “I was very happy with my performance tonight,” Coll said. “I was wanting to switch on from the first rally and I did that and I hit my targets in back. I can’t even think when I made one mistake, so I was really happy with that. I was clinical to the front and the back and moved well and seeing the ball well tonight, so I was very happy with that performance.”

    Coll also was comfortable playing long rallies against the athletic Rodriguez. He was able to play control the T. From there, his physical prowess and elite shot-making turned what could have been a highly competitive semifinal into a walkover.

    The athletic Rodriguez (left) couldn’t solve the impeccable Coll. (MCO photo)

    “I feel like I was hitting my targets enough at the back that I was sort of on the T most of the time and yeah if it’s long rallies and I’m on the T, then I’m happy,” Coll said. “Gotta be careful with Miguel, he’s so quick I don’t know where he is on the court half the time. I just wanted to make sure I hit my targets and kept him out of the middle as much as possible.”

    Coll only hit the tin once during his 3-0 win.

    With a pair of semifinal cakewalks, Coll and Elias should be in top form for a much-anticipated championship matchup. Both players have won all three of their respective matches, 3-0.

    With fresh legs and strong form, World #2 vs. World #3 is all fans could have hoped for when the tourney began Wednesday.

    Elias will try for a record fourth straight MCO championship Saturday. (Photo by Bryan Mitchell/MCO)

    Semifinal (Saturday) results

    (1) Diego Elias [PER] def. (4) Fares Dessouky [EGY], 3-0 (11-7, 11-3, 11-7)

    (2) Paul Coll [NZL] def. (3) Miguel Rodriguez [COL], 3-0 (11-3, 11-3, 11-2)

    Superman was flying high in the MCO semis. (Photo by Bryan Mitchell/MCO)

    Final (Sunday) matchup

    (1) Diego Elias [PER] vs. (2) Paul Coll [NZL] — 5 p.m.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *