THE POSSIBILITY of a second Hong Kong Open title opened up for Sheffield’s Nick Matthew on Friday after world No 1 and newly-crowned world champion Gregory Gaultier crashed out in the quarter-finals.
Australia’s Cameron Pilley was the culprit, beating the Frenchman in straight games - 11-9, 12-10, 12-10 - to set up a Saturday semi-final against 2013 winner Matthew.
The 35-year-old Yorkshireman also endured a tough time at the Hong Kong Squash Centre, but came through a typically tough battle with Egypt’s Tarek Momen to win 15-13, 11-4, 6-11, 11-9 after just over an hour on court.
“Tarek isn’t one of the players I’d choose to play on this court,” said world No 3 Matthew after gaining revenge on an opponent who beat him at the quarter-final stages of the recent world championships.
“But I was pleased to take a tight first and get away in the second, but he got away quickly in the third and the fourth was tight, I thought we were heading into a decider.
“I love playing here, the crowd really get involved, and moving onto the glass court tomorrow is something I’m really looking forward to.”
“But I was pleased to take a tight first and get away in the second, but he got away quickly in the third and the fourth was tight, I thought we were heading into a decider.”Nick Matthew, after his quarter-final win at the Hong Kong Open.
An understandably delighted Pilley is determined to focus on taking one more big step to reach what would be a first-ever world series final for him.
“It’s strange because this whole tournament I haven’t really been thinking about getting anywhere,” said world No 24 Pilley.
“I didn’t even look at the draw to see who I’d play after I won my match yesterday and it’s working, because this is the first time I’ve ever made a world series semi-final - after 14 years of trying!
“I’m really looking forward to playing in the semis. I’m trying to stay calm and collected on court but, after the tournament, I’m sure I’ll look back on this as a good achievement.”
Should Matthew prevail - as his seeding and world ranking superiority suggests he should - he will face another Egyptian opponent in Sunday’s final.
Omar Mosaad came back from two games down to defeat fourth seed Miguel Angel Rodriguez, from Colombia, 3-11, 3-11, 11-9, 11-9, 13-11 in a 102-minute epic.
The sixth seed will now meet top seed and compatriot Mohamed Elshorbagy, who enjoyed a comfortable 11-5, 11-6, 11-4 victory over France’s Mathieu Castagnet.
In the women’s draw, England’s Laura Massaro remains in the hunt after defeating Egypt’s Nouran Gohar 11-5, 6-11, 11-8, 11-6.
She will now face top seed and Gohar’s compatriot Raneem El Welily, who defeated the USA’s Amanda Sobhy - second round conqueror of Harrogate’s Jenny Duncalf - 11-8, 11-5, 11-8.
Former world No 1 Nicol David - who has remarkably won the event for the last 10 years - remains on course to extend her run, but faces a tough semi-final opponent in the shape of Omneya Abdel Kawy.
Second seed David beat New Zealand’s Joelle King 11-6, 11-4, 11-3, while her semi-final opponent defeated France’s Camille Serme 11-9, 11-4, 11-6.
* The Men’s World Team Squash Championship, due to take place later this month in Cairo, has been postponed.
The Egyptian Squash Federation, hosts of the World Squash Federation event, informed the organisers today of the decision which was taken due to earlier team withdrawals and concerns of others about security.