Paul Coll celebrates after winning the New Zealand Open against Marwan ElShorbagy on December 10, 2023.
Paul Coll, nicknamed “The Kiwi,” has been on an absolute tear the last couple of months, finishing 2023 with a decisive win in his home tournament, the New Zealand Open. Beforehand, he won back-to-back platinum tournaments in the U.S. Open and Hong Kong Squash Open, the highest of four tournament levels.
Back in October, the Arlen Specter Center in Philadelphia hosted the U.S. Open, one of the largest tournaments of the year, with nearly 200,000 dollars in prize money spread across each draw. Coll began his campaign in the third round against Egypt's Youseff Ibrahim, winning in a decisive three-game match. Next, The Kiwi faced strong opponents in Egypt's Mazen Hashem and Peru's Diego Elias, falling 2-1 in games in both matches but coming back to win five-game thrillers, making him the first New Zealand to reach the U.S. Open finals in 37 years. In the finals, Paul Coll faced a scorching hot Ali Farag coming off four consecutive Platinum Tournament victories. However, Coll took an early lead this time, winning the first two games 11-7. Farag fought back, equalizing the score into a fifth game where The Kiwi squeezed out another grueling battle.
After an impressive victory in Philadelphia, Paul Coll prepared for another platinum tournament set in Hong Kong. He breezed through his first three matches, dropping only one game. In the semi-finals, The Kiwi faced former world No. 1 Mohamed ElShorbagy, who he cleaned up in only three games. Once again, Paul Coll met Ali Farag in the finals, playing phenomenal squash to secure another title. Coll spoke after his match, saying, "I'm happy with my performances - not just tonight but all week. I've really tried to play some aggressive squash and this brand that I'm going for." While considered a more passive and steady player, his attacking game has improved tremendously, demonstrated by his 55 percent of winners in front of the court compared to Farag's 38 percent.
To finish the year, Paul Coll claimed his third title in his home country at the New Zealand Open. After losing in the finals the previous year, Coll bounced back, dropping only one game in the first three rounds. Backed by the home crowd in the finals, the Kiwi dominated Egypt's Marwan ElShorbagy, etching his name on another championship trophy. To make his hometown tournament even more special, Coll was accompanied by his fiancée and Belgian No. 1 Nele Gili, who won the women's division.
Paul Coll will look to continue this streak in the new year, having looked impressive in the closing months of 2023. Coll has been unbelievably sharp, playing deadly drops from the front and demonstrating his superior strength, quickness, and endurance on the PSA Tour. After defeating the current world No. 1 in Ali Farag in back-to-back finals matches, The Kiwi undoubtedly still has the opportunity to gain the top spot once again.