PAUL COLL is determined not to let the prospect of a 2nd round meeting with 'best friend' and Eye Rackets stablemate Diego Elias stop him producing his best ever US Open.
The Kiwi, who has climbed back to an equal career best PSA no 8 ranking, faces world no13 Elias in what will be their first ever competitive meeting in Sunday night's mouth-watering meeting of the 'Eyemen'.
Coll had been due to face defending champion Ali Farag but an injury to Marwan ElShorbagy forced a redraw and the Kiwi was promoted to number eight seed and Coll admits this has caused him to refocus his game plan.
But with an uninterrupted three week training block designed to iron out some front court kinks in Coll's game deemed a success, the Commonwealth Game silver medallist believes he can make sure he isn't a victim of friendly fire.
Speaking exclusively to EyeRackets.com, Paul said: "One of my main targets at the beginning of the season was to get back inside the top eight as soon as possible and the benefits of achieving that off the back of my run at the China Open have been immediate.
"I was due to play Ali Farag, the number two seed, world number two and defending champion in the 2nd round but Marwan ElShorbagy's withdrawal has meant I have now been seeded number eight and instead of Ali I will face my Eye Rackets stablemate Diego Elias and one thing's for sure I'm going to need plenty of fight to beat Diego.
"Diego isn't just my Eye Rackets stablemate, he is probably my best friend on tour and although we have trained together plenty and played exhibition matches we have never met on the PSA World Tour in competitive action.
"Clearly Diego's game is completely different to Farag's style and that has meant that since the redraw was made on Thursday morning I have had to re-focus and reassess my tactics. But I'm also coming into the US Open after a run to the China Open final that included a win over a top five player in Simon Rosner in the semis, so my form is good and I'm quietly confident."
Coll admits that the deception of the Peruvian Panther has meant he has had to tailor a specific game plan to combat Diego's impressive firepower.
The 26 year-old said: "Diego is hugely deceptive and I'm going to have to make sure his chances to use that deception and his fantastic hold and racket skills are few and far between while at the same time take my chances when they present themselves.
"In the China Open final against Mohamed Abouelghar I had my chances but my consistency, especially at the front of the court, was not what I would have liked.
"With the semi against Simon lasting 90 minutes I maybe wasn't as fresh as I would have liked but that one was always going to be a toughie and that's tournament squash for you.
"As a result the tournament de-brief with my coach Tommy Berden did emphasise that, despite all the pluses of making the final in China, my front court quality had to be raised and I'm positive the work we have done between Shanghai and Philadelphia will reflect that."
Was that a clue that Superman has added a new weapon to his arsenal? We will have to wait and see but ahead of Sunday's shoot out with his Eye stablemate, Coll has taken inspiration from one of Philly's most famous sons.
Paul revealed: "Like I said I arrived early in Philly, so I made sure I visited 'The Rocky Steps', which lead to the east entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I believe it's the second most famous movie filming location in the world…but don't ask me what the first is and no, I didn't run up the Rocky steps!
"The big plus for me ahead of this match is I am going in on fresh legs. So just like Rocky I plan to come out swinging and hopefully make sure that my fourth US Open is one to remember!"
We hope you will agree that Sunday night can't come quickly enough!
Interview by RJ Mitchell