Matthew needs to be spot on in Hong Kong

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NICK Matthew acknowledges he will have to get his gameplan spot on if he is to beat fierce rival Ramy Ashour and reach the Hong Kong Open final.

The 32-year-old world No 2, from Sheffield, received free passage into the last four on Friday after quarter-final opponent Amr Shabana withdrew through injury.

Ashour, who has won 12 of the 19 previous meetings between himself and Matthew, also benefited from an injury withdrawal, although he as

8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 10-3 ahead when opponent Gregory Gaultier, from France, had to call it a day.

Leeds’s world No 1 James Willstrop defeated Spain’s Borja Golan 11-7, 11-7, 11-4 to set up a last four showdown with Egypt’s Karim Darwish, the third quarter-finalist to profit from somebody else’s misfortune, this time England’s Peter Barker pulling out with a hamstring injury.

All three withdrawals will have been made with next week’s World Open in Qatar in mind and it was Willstrop who progressed the preferred way, his victory rarely in doubt despite Golan’s heroics in the previous round when he defeated eighth seed Mohamed El Shorbagy from Egypt.

The Yorkshireman will go into his last four showdown with the fourth seed in confident mood, not only because he is the top seed and has enjoyed an impressive week, but also due to the fact he has won his last 11 meetings with Darwish.

While acknowledging Ashour has enjoyed the greater success in their rivalry, winning five of the last six meetings between the two, Sheffield-born Matthew is confident of repeating the British Open triumph he enjoyed over the Egyptian earlier this year.

“It’s always a tough battle against Ramy, I’ve beaten him in some big finals so that gives me hope,” said second seed Matthew.

“You have to try and contain him, but you also have to impose your own game. He hits shots others can’t play so you have to get your gameplan spot on.”

And while no doubt grateful for the rest brought about by the unfortunate Shabana’s forced withdrawal, Matthew doesn’t expect it to have too much of an impact on Saturday afternoon against former world No 1 Ashour.

“It’s never nice to go through like that, it leaves a bit of a dull feeling and I really hope Amr and Peter Barker are recovered in time for next week’s World Open,” said Matthew.

“It is a bonus to have had an easier progression than Ramy so far, especially with the worlds around the corner. But it won’t matter one bit tomorrow I’m sure and I know I’ll have to execute my plan really well.”

In the women’s draw, Harrogate’s Jenny Duncalf saw her interest ended when she went down in four games to Natalie Grinham of the Netherlands.

Seeded third for the event, former world No 2 Duncalf hit back to level after losing the opening game before struggling to make an impact in the third and fourth, eventually going down

11-8, 10-12, 11-2, 11-5 to the eighth seed.

Grinham now faces top seed Nicol David, who looks odds on to secure a remarkable eighth Hong Kong title after destroying Australia’s Kasey Brown in just 30 minutes.

Alison Waters, the only other Englishwoman left at the quarter-final stages, was beaten 3-2 by Egypt’s Omneya Abdel Kawy, who now faces France’s Camille Serme.