Willstrop, Matthew and Massaro all bow-out in Philadelphia
In a disappointing evening for the English players at the US Open James Willstrop, Nick Matthew and Laura Massaro all bowed out at the semi-final stage in Philadelphia.
It will be third seed Gregory Gaultier and No4 seed Ramy Ashour who will contest the unexpected final of the Delaware Investments US Open following the exit of the two top seeds from England in the semi-finals.
Gaultier was ahead throughout and always seemed to be in charge of the rallies. The Englishman came into the match following three 80-minute-plus matches in a row – but it was a fine performance from Gaultier that earned the 29-year-old from Aix-en-Provence a well-deserved 11-7, 11-2, 11-8 win, and a place in the 46th Tour final of his career.
In the second semi-final Matthew, the world No2, took an early lead and increased it to 10-6. Ashour took the next five points and eventually took what proved to be a crucial lead 15-13 on his third game ball.
Matthew managed to contain his opponent in the second game to draw level. But Ashour – who boasted an 11-7 Tour record over his rival before the match, but lost the most recent encounter in the British Open in May – led throughout the next two games and completed a 15-13, 8-11, 11-8, 11-4 triumph.
Matthew reflected on the match: "It’s not the first time I’ve lost a lead like I had in the first to Ramy, so he must be doing something right. I thought I’d won it on a video review – that didn’t go my way – but I still had four more chances.
“He played well though – he adapted to tonight’s slower conditions better than me, and my defence wasn’t as good as Pete’s last night. The work he made me do took its toll and I faded a bit in the fourth.
“In the end he got on top and deserved to win.”
Matthew was succinct on Twitter later: “I could make excuses as to why I didn’t win but the honest truth is the better player won tonight. Well played Ramy hope it’s a good final.”
In the women’s draw defending champion Laura Massaro lost to Raneem El Weleily in a thrilling marathon encounter.
The Egyptian second seed made a few errors but they became fewer and fewer as the match progressed and Massaro, who took the first 11-8, was having to work harder to stay in touch.
Raneem pulled clear from the middle of the second to take it 11-8, and came from 7-9 down to take the third 11-9 with four clean winners.
Massaro held the advantage throughout the fourth and levelled 12-10.
However, it was all El Weleily who proved too strong as she completed the game in 60 minutes.
This is the first time in a long time there will be no English interest in a major tour final! But, onwards & upwards with plenty more to come this year!