NICK Matthew made it safely through to the semi-finals of the British National Championships after defeating Chris Simpson, writes Phil Harrison.
The world No 1 from Sheffield didn’t have it all his own way though, taking almost an hour to get past the sixth seed from Harrogate, eventually booking a semi-final spot with a 12-10, 11-4, 11-4 victory.
He will now meet defending champion Daryl Selby in a rematch of last year’s final which saw the Essex man spring a shock by defeating his more illustrious opponent.
At stake is a place in Sunday’s final against either Leeds’s world No 2 James Willstrop or Adrian Grant, the fourth seed looking to land the title for the first time.
“Chris played very well and that first game was incredibly tough,” said Matthew, who topped the world rankings throughout 2011.
“In fact, he reminded me of me - he’s very competitive, you can’t get rid of him!”
“Playing Chris reminded me that it’s not all about the rivalry between me and James (Willstrop) - there is plenty of stiff competition before that.
“This is a very important event on the calendar and there are not many world tour events put on as well as this.”
Simpson, based in Harrogate, felt he could have played better in his third meeting with the second seed.
“I’m happy with the way I played, but I was a bit disappointed with the way I flagged a bit at the end,” said the 24-year-old.
“But it’s hard against him - he’s just relentless. If you switch off for one second, the game goes.”
Selby claimed his anticipated place in the last four after a 50-minute battle with Adrian Waller, the world No12 from Essex coming through 11-1, 11-3, 11-13, 11-4.
In the women’s draw, Alison Waters and Lauren Briggs joined Laura Massaro and Madeleine Perry in the semi-finals.