Brilliant Willstrop stuns Shabana
Englishman James Willstrop put in a brilliant performance of controlled squash to demolish former world number one Amr Shabana of Egypt in the quarter-finals of the CSR Viridian Australian Open in Canberra on Friday.
A day after beating another ex number one David Palmer, Willstrop hardly made an error as he raced to an 11-4, 11-5, 11-7 win over Shabana and a semi-final against fellow countryman and current number one Nick Matthew (pictured).
“I just tried to think it’s a different day,” Willstrop said after his third win over Shabana this year.
“I tried to get ready the same as yesterday – just because I won yesterday, that’s gone and I don’t think about that any more.
“But I have to be absolutely on my game tomorrow and if I am, I can win the tournament.”
Matthew earlier survived a brutal examination from countryman Peter Barker to move into the semi-finals.
The left-handed Barker opened brilliantly and raced away with the first game 11-4, but at 5-5 in the second he went off the boil and allowed Matthew to win the next six points to even the match.
Matthew then narrowly won the next two to take the match 4-11, 11-5, 11-9, 12-10 in a quarter-final of exceptional quality.
The English teammates delighted the big crowd at Canberra’s Royal Theatre with their superb all-court games, Matthew just getting home on the back of some unforced errors at crucial times from Barker, who had not taken a game of his opponent for the past 18 months.
“I knew he wanted this match and would come out to play,” Matthew said.
“The last few times he has played me he has come off the back of some tough matches or he has been carrying a niggle so he could not do himself justice.”
In a good day for the English, third seed Alison Waters reached the final four with an 11-5, 11-9, 11-7 win over New Zealand’s last hope Jaclyn Hawkes.
Waters took the first game easily then had to withstand a challenge from Hawkes in the second, during which the Kiwi led 5-0 and 9-6.
But in the third the Englishwoman took an early lead and was never headed.
“Jackie played really well getting to 5-0 and put me under a lot of pressure,” Waters said.
“She got in front of me so I had to get my length right – that makes such a big difference.”
Northern Ireland’s Madeline Perry recovered from a disastrous start to down yet another English player, Laura Massaro.
After losing the first game in quick time, Perry settled her nerves and played the steadier squash to win 2-11, 11-6, 11-5, 12-10, her first victory over Massaro since April 2006.
“I was a bit tight in the first for some reason and I knew I had to turn it around pretty quickly,” she said.
“It’s not unusual for me to be like that at the start – I just get a bit uptight and once I relax I play better squash.
“I think she started quickly and got in front of me on the T so I tried to change my length to get in front of her and I played much better.
“I feel good (about winning the title). Physically I haven’t had any really hard matches. Today there were a lot of lets so it wasn’t hard physically, so I’m feeling good.”