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Semi-finals are decided in Philadelphia

Posted: 11.10.12

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England’s Nick Matthew prevailed as predicted to reach the semi-finals of the Delaware Investments US Open but was taken the full distance by Egypt’s twice champion Amr Shabana.

In a sensational second night of quarter-final action at Drexel University, second seed Matthew overturned last year’s final outcome after coming back from 2/1 down to beat Shabana 11-6, 4-11, 10-12, 11-9, 11-9 in 92 minutes.

Reigning world champion Matthew was in impressive form in the first game to take the lead – but Shabana, struck back to take the next two games, coming from behind in the third to take the lead after a tie-break.

The defending champion and seventh seed, looking as fit and fresh as he ever has, established a 7-4 lead in the fourth. But Matthew fought back, taking seven of the next nine points to level the match.

The Englishman maintained the upper hand to storm into a 6-1 lead in the decider, subduing his opponent and the crowd. Shabana struck back with some brilliant winners, and levelled at nine-all. Matthew moved to match ball on a stroke before a fabulous last rally saw both players covering all four corners of the court – Matthew finally leaving Shabana stranded at the front as he punched the ball deep for the winning point.

Shabana’s racket made its own way to the back corner in vain pursuit as the players embraced in mutual respect and the crowd rose in appreciation.

“I really don’t know how I did that,” said Matthew after the 92-minute encounter which saw the 32-year-old from Sheffield extend his Tour head-to-head record over the Egyptian to 11-9. "The last few points are a bit of a blur, I expected him to get up and chase that last ball down, he’d been playing so well!

“I knew he would come out strong, the shape he looks to be in has been the talk of the tour, so it wasn’t a surprise that he played so well – hopefully he’ll carry on and move up the rankings so that I don’t have to meet him in the quarter-finals anymore!

“I was lucky to win that in the end. I’ll take a little time to go through what went wrong and what went right, then think about preparing for the semi-final – I just hope the others have a long one too!”

Matthew’s wish was later granted when his next Egyptian opponent Ramy Ashour was stretched to the limit in the last quarter-final by Londoner Peter Barker.

Barker took the first game aided by numerous unforced errors from Ashour. But Ashour took the second and third games, with left-hander Barker now struggling to contain his opponent’s mobility and shot-making.

But, Barker came back strong and went from 5-7 down to level the match 11-7.

The decider was close all the way but it was Ashour who prevailed after 75 minutes in a game full of drama and tension.

RESULTS: PSA World Series Delaware Investments US Open

Quarter-finals (lower half of draw):
4 Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt 6 Peter Barker (Eng) 10-12, 11-5, 11-6, 7-11, 13-11 (75m)
2 Nick Matthew (Eng) bt 7 Amr Shabana (Egy) 11-6, 4-11, 10-12, 11-9, 11-9 (92m)

Semi-final line-up:
1 James Willstrop (Eng) v 3 Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
2 Nick Matthew (Eng) v 4 Ramy Ashour (Egy)

In the women’s draw defending champion Laura Massaro maintained her impressive record in Philadelphia with a straight-game win over British rival Madeline Perry that was far from straightforward.

Madeline Perry started well as she opened up a 3-0 lead in the first, but Massaro quickly closed that down to 3-all, and they traded points to reach 5-all. Perry took the next on a stroke but that was her last of the game as six unanswered points from Massaro put her in the lead.

The second and third was close all the way but it was Massaro who finished stronger and completed the game in 44 minutes.

Quarter-finals (lower half of draw):
4 Laura Massaro (Eng) bt 5 Madeline Perry (Irl) 11-6, 11-9, 11-7 (44m)
2 Raneem El Weleily (Egy) bt Kasey Brown (Aus) 11-8, 11-13, 12-10, 11-9 (47m)

Semi-final line-up:
1Nicol David (Mas) v Joelle King (Nzl)
4 Laura Massaro (Eng) v 2 Raneem El Weleily (Egy)