Springfield Solutions British Squash Grand Prix Semi-Final Results

The English rivals prevailed in two contrasting semi-finals in front of a packed crowd at the National Squash Centre - World No.1 Willstrop surviving the third-longest match of his career, coming through 15-13 in the fifth in a dramatic 118-minute encounter with Frenchman Gregory Gaultier, the World No3, and Matthew taking out England compatriot Peter Barker in straight games to reach a major milestone in his career, his 50th PSA World Tour final.

In the opening semi-final, third seed Gaultier took a 1/0 lead before allowing too many errors into his game to lose the next two to favourite Willstrop.

But the 29-year-old from Aix-en-Provence struck back to take a 5-1 lead in the fourth, and had several chances to finish it off from 10-8 up. After saving two match-balls, Gaultier finally walked off the court having levelled the match - pumping his fist with delight after a video review confirmed the stroke against his opponent.

The fifth was a thriller, with both players struggling physically at times, and Willstrop's stunning retrieving and Gaultier's occasional errors keeping it close all the way.

Gaultier was first to match-ball at 10-9, but after a series of appeals it was ultimately Willstrop who prevailed on his third match ball of the game to win 7-11, 11-6, 11-4, 14-16, 15-13.

As the two players embraced, the crowd showed their appreciation with a standing ovation.

"When it's played like that, squash is the hardest sport on earth," admitted Willstrop, 29, from Leeds. "There was some twisting and turning tonight, there was no easy point on that court, you needed to plot and plan each and every one.

"This was a pretty special thing that Greg and I could play such quality squash for such prolonged period."

Gaultier, who recently became a father, was gracious in defeat: "I really enjoyed playing today. I couldn't have my normal training preparation with the birth of my baby, but I thought I did not too badly, a bit up and down, but I managed to get through most of the match.

"Shame that the tin was just too high!"

Second seed Matthew later joined Willstrop in the event's dream final when he beat London left-hander Barker, the fourth seed, 11-6, 11-7, 11-3 in 48 minutes - less than half the length of the earlier semi-final!

"James and Greg were a hard act to follow," admitted Matthew, the world champion from Sheffield. "Once I had the first game under my belt, I was able to relax and grew more comfortable.

"You are trying to concentrate on your own game, but you can't help thinking that if you win 3/0, you'll be fresher for tomorrow!"

In addition to countless clashes in domestic squash, Willstrop and Matthew began their World Tour confrontations in the British Open qualifiers in June 2001. The pair's head-to-head count since then is 21-8 in Matthew's favour, with the Sheffield man boasting a 14-match unbeaten run since December 2007.

PSA International 70 Springfield Solutions British Grand Prix
National Squash Centre, Manchester, England
[1] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [3] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 7-11, 11-6, 11-4, 14-16, 15-13
[2] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [4] Peter Barker (ENG) 11-6, 11-7, 11-3

The Springfield Solutions British Grand Prix Squash Championship is being staged at the National Squash Centre in Manchester from 21-24 September.

Tickets for the Springfield Solutions British Grand Prix - Manchester 2012 can now be booked online at www.isportgroup.com/ticketing or by telephone on 0844 8797 949.

Official Website: www.britishsquashgrandprix.com

For further information email sales@isportgroup.com or visit: www.squashsite.co.uk/bgp


Issued by info@isportgroup.com on behalf of the Springfield Solutions British Grand Prix – Manchester 2012

Englishmen James Willstrop and Nick Matthew, the top two players in the world, will line up for their 30th PSA World Tour match in 11 years when they meet in the final of the Springfield Solutions British Grand Prix Squash Championship in Manchester.