Matthew looks to raise his game in semi-final

Nick Matthew on his way to a quarter-final win over Fares Dessouki. Picture courtesy of squashpics.com

Nick Matthew on his way to a quarter-final win over Fares Dessouki. Picture courtesy of squashpics.com

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NICK MATTHEW eased through to the last four at the British Open still convinced he is yet to produce his best squash in the event.

The No 1 seed was given a thorough workout by 19-year-old Egyptian qualifier Ferres Dessouki, who caused a huge upset in Wednesday’s second round when he knocked out compatriot and former world 
No 1 Karim Darwish.

Sheffield-born Matthew came through yesterday’s quarter-final in straight games, although he was kept on court for 45 minutes by the promising teenager – perhaps longer than most people expected from the first meeting between the two.

He will now meet Egyptian world No 3 Mohamed Elshorbagy, who moved forward after seeing off a considerable threat from France’s Mathieu Castagnet – ranked 19 places beneath him in the PSA World Tour rankings – eventually winning 11-7, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6 in just under an hour.

“I feel like my week is just getting going now,” said Matthew.

“I’ve not hit my stride like I need to yet, though, and I hope with the crowd I can up it a few more levels in the semi-final.

“Mohammed has beaten me the last two times out, he’s got all those qualities of youth and enthusiasm. He wants it so badly but he’s got a lot of maturity as well, he is the complete article.”

Fellow Yorkshireman James Willstrop’s hopes of a first title were dashed by defending champion Ramy Ashour last night, 11-5, 11-5, 11-7.

Troubled by a back problem and possibly hampered by the after-effects of his 90-minute duel with Omar Mosaad the previous day, the 30-year-old from Pontefract managed to keep in touch with his Egyptian opponent, but it was always an uphill battle.

Afterwards Ashour said: “I noticed that James was slower than usual, I thought it was the week that was catching up with him, especially the match he had yesterday. I hope there is nothing wrong with him, but actually, he inspired me tonight.

“I was thinking this is the way to behave, when you are down, just keep digging, keep fighting.

“And I thought, next time I’m tired, that’s the way I’ll have to behave. He is such a great ambassador, and it’s always great to play against him.”

In the women’s draw, Hailifax’s unseeded Sarah Kippax saw her run come to an end, losing out 11-8, 12-10, 11-8 to defending champion Laura Massaro.

Kippax – currently ranked 22 in the world – had already beaten two players ranked higher than her, including Harrogate’s Jenny Duncalf, and proved more than an adequate match for her more illustrious opponent, remaining close enough in all three games.

World No 2 Massaro acknowledged afterwards that she had been given a tough session by her 31-year-old England team-mate.

“It was tough going into the quarter-final against an England team-mate and someone I’ve known for years and years,” she said. On paper I was a heavy favourite so that is sometimes difficult to handle. I’m pleased to come through though as she had already had a couple of giant-killings.”

Massaro will now face Egyptian Raneem El Weleily, the tournament’s third seed, who came through her last eight encounter against seventh seed Low Wee Wern 11-5, 11-6, 11-8.

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