Defending champion Matthew one step away from third straight final

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NICK Matthew maintained his bid for a third straight British Open title with a comprehensive 3-0 defeat of former world No 1 Karim Darwish in Hull.

The Sheffield-born world No 2 sailed past Darwish 11-6 11-2 12-10 to set up a semi-final back on the all-glass showcourt at the KC Stadium against another former world No 1, France’s Gregory Gaultier.

Because of a continuation of the dire weather which has hit the area, Friday’s quarter-finals in both the men’s and women’s draws were transferred to the nearby Hull and East Riding Squash Club, which had been used as an emergency venue on Thursday night when James Willstrop’s second-round match with Simon Rosner had to be abandoned on the outside court due to rain seeping on to the court.

Matthew, who won the event last year, as well as in 2009 and 2006, has yet to drop a game in the event, which, given the weekend forecast, should now be able to conclude back on the main stage.

The same cannot be said for his long-time rival and fellow Yorkshireman Willstrop, who was forced to book a semi-final against top seed Ramy Ashour the hard way, coming from two games down to deny Australian Cameron Pilley, who had already taken a sizable scalp in the previous round by defeating sixth seed Mohamed El Shorbagy.

It looked like he was on course for an even bigger prize in Willstrop after winning the first two games 11-9.

But, as has happened so many times before, Pontefract’s Willstrop stormed back, crucially taking the third 14-12 before gaining control to see out the match 11-6 11-2 after an exhausting 107 minutes.

Ashour, beaten in last year’s final by Matthew, enjoyed the easiest progression of all semi-finalists, clocking up his 39th straight victory with a 11-7, 11-4, 11/7 win over Spain’s Borja Golan in a little over half an hour.

In the women’s draw, there was heartache for Harrogate’s Jenny Duncalf as she went down to Raneem El Weleily – a repeat of last year’s quarter-final between the two at London’s O2 Arena.

Duncalf, seeded eight, took the first game but the third seed from Egypt then took control, eventually winning 9-11 11-6 11-4 11-5 in 42 minutes to set up a semi-final with England’s Laura Massaro, who defeated Omneya Abdel Kawy 11-7 11-6 9-11 11-8.

Four-time champion Nicol David beat New Zealander Joelle King 13-11 11-8 11-1 to claim her place in the semi-finals, where she will face England’s fourth seed Alison Waters, who saw off the challenge of Australia’s Kasey Brown 11-4 11-3 11-4.