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Commonwealth Games Singles Finals Preview: History awaits in Birmingham

History will be made in today’s Commonwealth Games singles finals, which are taking place at the University of Birmingham Hockey and Squash Centre.

In the women’s draw, Canada’s 5/8 seed Hollie Naughton plays England’s 3/4 seed Georgina Kennedy as they bid to become the first ever female winners from their respective countries. Similarly, there will be a new nation crowned champion in the men’s singles final between New Zealand’s top seed Paul Coll and Welsh No.2 seed Joel Makin.

The bronze medal matches of squash at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games begin at 16:00 (GMT+1). The gold medal matches will begin at 18:00 with the women’s final, followed by the men’s final at 19:00. Viewers around the world can watch the action live, with BBCiPlayer streaming for home fans. Click here for a list of broadcasters by country.

[5/8] Hollie Naughton (CAN) v [3/4] Georgina Kennedy (ENG)

Hollie Naughton is the first Canadian woman to reach the Commonwealth Games final

In the women’s semi-final, tournament surprise package Hollie Naughton of Canada will be hoping she can pull off one more upset. The 27-year-old has already become the lowest seeded player to reach the final in Games history, having seen off Lijana Sultana and 9/16 seed Aifa Azman, before stunning 3/4 seed Joshna Chinappa and then top seed and defending champion Joelle King.

Should Naughton win, she’ll be the first Canadian woman to achieve the feat.

Naughton’s opponent today is England’s fellow Commonwealth Games debutant Georgina Kennedy. Kennedy has been one of the biggest stories in squash this season, with the 25-year-old’s spectacular upturn in form taking her from World No.185 in May 2021 to World No.8 in July of this year.

Kennedy, whose greatest strength is her endless movement and high-tempo game, stormed past  Sri Lanka’s Yeheni Kuruppu, Canada’s 9/16 seed Nicole Bunyan and Malaysia’ 9/16 seed Rachel Arnold in a total of just 55 minutes, before downing her compatriot, No.2 seed and 2018 silver medallist Sarah-Jane Perry 3-1 yesterday.

Surprisingly, this is only the second ever meeting between Naughton and Kennedy, with the Canadian recovering from one game down to record a 3-1 win over Kennedy in March’s PSL Cup.

[1] Paul Coll (NZL) v [2] Joel Makin (WAL)

Joel Makin, who represents Wales, studied at the University of Birmingham

In the men’s final, either New Zealand or Wales will have their first ever winner as the top seeds meet.

Both World No.2 Paul Coll, who reached World No.1 between March and May of this year, and World No.7 Joel Makin have looked in fine form in Birmingham. Coll, a beaten finalist in the Gold Coast Games, swatted aside Malta’s Niall Engerer in his opening game before recovering from a shaky start to beat Wales’s 9/16 seed Emyr Evans. A more routine victory over English 5/8 seed Adrian Waller followed, before Coll put in his best performance of the tournament in a 3-0 win over India’s 3/4 seed Saurav Ghosal in yesterday’s semi-final.

Makin, meanwhile, began his campaign with comfortable victories over Uganda’s Michael Kawooya and Scotland’s 9/16 seed Alan Clyne, before overcoming stubborn resistance from Malaysian 5/8 seed Eain Yow Ng in the quarter-final. The Welshman, who studied at the University of Birmingham and lives nearby, then broke the hearts of the home crowd with a 3-0 over England’s defending champion and 5/8 seed James Willstrop last night.

Coll and Makin have met 13 times before, including in the semi-finals of the 2018 Commonwealth Games, when Coll came from two games down to record a stunning 3-2 win in a brutal 106-minute encounter. That win was one of 11 to Coll’s name, with the Kiwi currently on a five-match winning run against Makin.

Bronze medal matches

Joelle King went down 3-1 in a shock defeat to Hollie Naughton.

In the bronze medal matches, New Zealand’s King and England’s Perry will reenact the 2018 final at 16:00. Four years ago, the Kiwi downed Perry in a thrilling 3-2 win to become the first New Zealander to win the title and will be hoping to add to her 11-4 head-to-head record.

In the men’s bronze medal match Willstrop will look to earn his seventh Commonwealth Games medal when he takes on Ghosal, who is looking for a first singles medal after winning silver in the 2018 mixed doubles. Although the pair have not met in four year, Willstrop enjoys an 11-1 record against the 35-year-old, including a 3-0 win in the semi-finals of the 2014 Games.

Today also sees the plate tournament, played between players knocked out earlier in the tournament, finals begin take place. India’s Sunayna Sara Kuuvilla takes on Guyana’s Mary Fung-A-Fat in the women’s final, while Zambia’s Kundanji Kalengo plays Kenyan University of Birmingham student Muqtadir Sadruddin Nimji in the men’s.

Click here for the full schedule and live results as they happen.

Stats kindly provided by Squash Info.

Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games: Men’s Final
[1] Paul Coll (NZL) v [2] Joel Makin (WAL)

Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games: Women’s Final
[3/4] Georgina Kennedy (ENG) v [5/8] Hollie Naughton (CAN)

Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games: Men’s Bronze Medal Match
[3/4] Saurav Ghosal (IND) v [5/8] James Willstrop (ENG)

Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games: Women’s Bronze Medal Match
[1] Joelle King (NZL) v [2] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)

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