LONG-TIME Yorkshire rivals Nick Matthew and James Willstrop will go head-to-head in the final of the National Championships for a fifth time.
World No 3 and seven-time champion Matthew, from Sheffield, had a more comfortable time in Saturday’s semi-finals when beating Daryl Selby in straight games, while Willstrop - a winner in 2007 and 2008 battled past Chris Simpson to book his place in the final.
Each time the two have met in the final, it is Matthew - as has proved the case in most meetings between the two over the last 10 years or so - who has prevailed.
After taking an early lead, Willstrop then had to come from behind against Simpson - both men are based in Harrogate - but was kept on court for 82 minutes before prevailing 11-5, 8-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-8.
“What a really enjoyable way to play squash,” said Willstrop afterwards. “Really enjoyable if a bit uncomfortable at times, but all credit to Chris for making it a really good match.
“It’s great to be playing well and winning, I can’t wait for tomorrow now.”
While far from a foregone conclusion, Matthew was still given a stern workout by Selby, but was off court in 40 minutes with an 11-4, 11-4, 11-7 victory.
“It’s a nice feeling for James and I to get to another final, there’s a lot of competition from the younger players now who think it’s their time,” said Matthew. “Hopefully I can hold them off for another year or two.”
In the women’s draw, Harrogate’s Jenny Duncalf’s dream of a third title were ended after a thrilling five-game defeat by Alison Waters.
Duncalf looked down and out after losing the first two games but came back to level before Waters regained her composure to close stay on course for her fifth title with an 13-11, 11-7, 8-11, 5-11, 11-9 victory in just under an hour.
She will meet two-time winner Laura Massaro on the glass showcourt on Sunday after the world No 1 saw off Tesni Evans 11-4, 11-2, 11-3 in 30 minutes.