Tough test forces Willstrop to battle through to last four

JAMES Willstrop admitted he’d been given a tough examination by Chris Simpson before making it through to the semi-finals of the British National Championships in Manchester.

Willstrop, the world No 3 from Leeds, will meet Peter Barker this afternoon at the National Squash Centre after taking more than an hour to see off Harrogate-based Simpson 4-11 12-10 11-7 11-5.

“Chris played well there,” said Willstrop, who is going for his third title after previously winning in 2007 and 2008. “He put me under pressure physically and made me feel uncomfortable for most of the match.

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“If he’s doing that to the world No 3 he must be doing something right. I’m very much looking forward to the semi-final now.”

Barker made his way into the last four after beating Adrian Grant 9-11 11-7 11-8 11-7.

Sheffield’s Nick Matthew remained on course for a record-breaking fifth Nationals title after ending the challenge of Scotland’s Alan Clyne in 35 minutes, winning 11-3 11-4 11-8.

He will now meet Tom Richards, who got the better of 2011 winner Daryl Selby with an 11-9 8-11 11-6 12-10 win in 65 minutes.

In the women’s draw, Jenny Duncalf kept her hopes of a third title intact after reaching the last four after a relatively comfortable victory over Halifax’s Sarah Kippax.

The 30-year-old former world No 2, from Harrogate, won 11-5 11-7 11-3 in 36 minutes and will face second seed Alison Waters in tonight’s semi-final, her opponent having defeated Sarah-Jane Perry in their quarter-final.

After a disappointing 2012 campaign, partly blighted by injury, Duncalf has looked much like her old self in recent months, giving her the belief that she will enjoy a far more successful 2013.

“I’m feeling physically better this year having got over a couple of injury problems,” said Duncalf.

Today’s semi-final schedule at the national Squash Centre:

1pm: Laura Massaro v Madeleine Perry

2pm: James Willstrop v Peter Barker

6pm: Jenny Duncalf v Alison Waters

7pm: Nick Matthew v Tom Richards