Elias Downs Top Seed Coll to Reach Back-to-Back ToC Finals; Gohar and El Sherbini Set to ClashBack to News
The 2023 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions finals will be contested by 2022 men’s runner up Diego Elias and first-time finalist Marwan ElShorbagy, while world No. 1 Nouran Gohar and world No. 2 Nour El Sherbini will vie for the women’s title in Grand Central Terminal.
Peru’s Diego Elias produced the biggest result of the day in an eighty-five minute four-game battle against top seed and world No. 4 Paul Coll. Elias and Coll were facing off for the tenth time on Tour, with Coll coming into this clash with a tight 5-4 advantage over the Peruvian. It was an attritional start to the first game with both players trying to adapt to the hot and bouncy conditions, as the opening two rallies lasted for five minutes.
The Peruvian was the first to reach game ball but was forced into a tiebreak by Coll, to which the ‘Puma’ responded with a backhand cross-court drop to earn other game ball, which he took. After Coll leveled the game score in the second, Elias took control of the match from there on out, clinching the third game 11-3 and holding off a fourth game comeback to win the match 11-8 in the fourth.
“I love playing here, it is always a great atmosphere,” said Elias, who reached his first ToC final in May. “I always play my best squash here and I am just very happy with this result. I don’t know if people know, but it is my third Platinum final in a row so I am very happy with this. I have been training so hard for this and I am just happy that I could make another final. I am not the same player as I was before. I can keep going for a while, not like before where I would get tired if I played a few tough rallies. I am very happy with this, and it is always great playing Paul. He is a great friend of mine and it is always great playing in the most import stages of the tournament. I think we are now 5-5 in the head-to-head so I hope this rivalry can keep going.”
Elias will face the younger ElShorbagy brother who is set for his ToC final debut and first PSA Platinum final since 2021. The twenty-nine-year-old Egyptian ended Miguel Rodriguez’s impressive run in three games and reaches the final without dropping a game all tournament.
In the women’s draw, Egypt’s Nour El Sherbini and Hania El Hammamy had the sell out crowd on the edge of their seats. El Hammamy was bidding to reclaim the world No. 2 ranking and reach her first ToC final, but the six-time world champion had other ideas. All three of the opening games saw El Sherbini squander a lead with El Hammamy coming back to win the first 13-11. El Sherbini then held off her comeback to take the second 15-13. El Sherbini’s shotmaking made the difference at a crucial nine-all in the third game to go up 2-1, and the fourth game proved to be the only one where El Hammamy couldn’t stay within reach.
“It’s always tough and tricky playing Hania and it’s always a physical game against her,” El Sherbini said. “I’m glad I won this time. It was a good win for me and a confidence building for me going into tomorrow. It was tough for me to lose the first game and I was very frustrated after losing it. She’s still young but has great experience already, she’s been in this position many times. Each game I had a big lead and it went quickly, she knows how to come back and she’s a fighter and fights for every point. Playing here is very special and being able to be in another final at the ToC is huge and hopefully it goes my way.”
Gohar, who now resides in Stamford, Connecticut, will defend her ToC title following a 3-0 win over New Zealand’s world No. 4 Joelle King.
Thursday’s finals will begin at 7pm local time.