Ashour defeat painful for Matthew on disappointing night for England

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NICK Matthew admitted he would be going back to the drawing board after seeing his hopes of a third successive world title ended by mercurial Egyptian Ramy Ashour.

Last night’s 11-9, 11-5, 9-11, 11-8 semi-final defeat for Sheffield’s Matthew at the World Championships in Qatar was also a decider for who would return to the world No 1 ranking in January, replacing Leeds’s James Willstrop, who also lost out to an Egyptian at the last four stage, exiting after a near two-hour struggle with up-and-coming Mohamed El Shorbagy.

While clearly disappointed to have failed to defend his title successfully for a second time, world No 2 Matthew admitted Ashour played the big points better.

It was a seventh defeat in eight meetings to Ashour for Matthew, prompting the Yorkshireman to acknowledge he needed to find a way to beat the world No 1 again.

“There seems to be a bit of a pattern emerging in the last few times Ramy and me have played each other, so we need to go away and figure out what we can do differently,” said Matthew.

“It’s hugely disappointing, obviously, but, credit where credit is due, he won the big points when it mattered.

“I’ve got to learn from these last few defeats to Ramy and, although I can take some positives from this game and this week, it still doesn’t alter the fact you’ve lost in a world semi-final.”

Willstrop went into his semi-final with 21-year-old Shorbagy knowing it was to be his last month as world No 1, having been at the top of the PSA World Tour listings for all but one month of 2012.

“I didn’t quite get it right,” he admitted after a 112-minute duel. “He was hitting with purpose and ferocity.

“I am as strong as anyone in the world but I felt like there was a slight drop in intensity. I haven’t had a session like that for a while.”