Ashour and Willstrop Look Set to Meet in a Rerun of 'Historic' Semi Final

Ramy Ashour and James Willstrop have moved one step closer to meeting in the semi-finals of the Allam British Open in a replay of what many regard as one of the greatest matches in squash’s history.
The two players both won their second round matches in comfortably today (Thursday, May 23) to progress through to the quarterfinal stage of the contest at Hull’s KC Stadium tomorrow.
Ashour overwhelmed England’s Chris Simpson, beating him 3-0 in just 22 minutes (11/2, 11/4, 11/9) whilst Yorkshireman Willstrop triumphed over Germany’s Simon Rosner.
 
Rosner was leading 6-5 when rain delayed play and it was decided the match should be moved to Hull and East Riding Squash Club.  The Yorkshireman was clearly fired up and slotted the ball away nicely at the front of the court to cause the German several problems in a 3-0 win.
Last year, number one seed Ashour knocked out the local boy, currently world number four, at the semi final stage of the tournament at London’s O2 Arena in an epic battle that ended 3-1.
 
This year Willstrop, who is the highest ranked player never to have won the title, will be looking to go one step further than last year and defeat the Egyptian if he is successful in tomorrow’s quarter final.
 
But he will have a fight on his hands as the 25-year-old Ashour has not lost a major tournament since losing in last year’s British Open final to Nick Matthew.
 
David Pearson, who coaches world number two Nick Matthew, said the pairing had the makings of a great match.
 
He said: “James plays at his best when he can nullify Ramy’s attack, when he gets the height right and the weight of the shots down the court. I think that is what he will try to do.
 
“But if Ramy plays like he can play it will be a difficult task for James.
 
“Both are fair and both play the ball – none of this stop and starting rubbish. They play a very straight game which can create some great squash.”
 
In the women’s draw second seed Laura Massaro recovered from an early scare against Indian number one Dipika Pallikal.  The world number two found herself a game down and 8-3 down in the second but the Lancashire star stayed focussed and visibly raised the tempo to secure 3-1 win and a quarter final place against Omneya Abdel Kawy.
 
A relieved Massaro told the crowd afterwards: “I didn’t realise the score, I was just taking it point for point, the court does obviously play different but it’s the same for both players.  I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s game.”
 
The English hopeful now faces the talented Egyptian Raneem El Weleily in tomorrow’s quarter finals after she successfully out mustered Ireland’s Madeline Perry in twenty five minutes.
 
“It’s the first time I played with sleeves on, so definitely not my favourite conditions. But it’s a good court, and I like it, said the Egyptian.
 
Qualifier Karim Abdel Gawad was looking to extend his good run with a second round match against Spain’s Borja Golan.
 
The eighth seed was made to work hard by the twenty one year-old who certainly has a bright future ahead of him.  The first two games were incredibly close with Gawad looking to take the ball into the front two corners at every opportunity, the tactic paid off as he won the first game 11/9.

Golan stepped it up a gear causing Gawad problems with his accuracy to level it up at one game all before seeing out the match.
 
“We only play two or three tournaments outside a year so it does take a bit of getting used to,” commented the Spaniard.
 
The afternoon’s final match featured the comeback of the tournament with an unbelievable shift of momentum in Australian’s Cameron Pilley’s favour.
 
Sixth seed and World Open finalist Mohamed El Shorbagy was the favourite heading into their second round match and couldn’t have expected what was to come…

A tight opener saw the two exchanging points up until 12-12 when a sudden downpour caused the crowd to head to the back of the stand with a surprised Pilley shouting “where’s everyone going” much to the crowds amusement.
 
Pilley was the first to crack and Shorbagy took the first 15/13 swiftly followed by a comfortable second 11/4.  
 
What came next was a truly epic and gritty comeback from the Aussie at 9-3 down with even members of the crowd leaving for refreshment and overheard as saying “this one’s all over…”
 
How wrong they turned out to be.
 
Pilley went on an incredible run winning the next eight points to secure the third 11/9 and the fourth 11/6 to set up a thrilling final game.
 
A no-let decision for Shorbagy on match ball at 10-9 gave Pilley the tie break and some frantic rallying ensued with both looking understandably edgy.
 
Unfortunately for the Egyptian but much to Pilley’s delight the quarter final place went to the Australian as he held his nerve to record a superb win.
 
“I relaxed a little bit and tried to straighten up a bit and try and volley more than him.  If you can try and do that, he’s still really dangerous but you have a better chance.  He’s beat me the last few times so it was good to win.
 
“I always believed I could do it,” a grinning Pilley added.
 
Round Two (continued):
[8] Jenny Duncalf (Eng) bt Nour El Tayeb (Egy) 14/12, 11/4, 11/4 (25m)
[8] Borja Golan (Esp) bt [Q] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) 9/11, 11/9, 11/8, 11/4 (55m)
[3] Raneem El Weleily (Egy) bt [11] Madeline Perry (Irl) 11/7, 12/10, 11/4 (25m)
Cameron Pilley (Aus) bt [6] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) 13/15, 4/11, 11/9, 11/6, 13/11 (74m)
[14] Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy) bt Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 16/14, 11/7, 11/8 (29m)
[1] Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt [Q] Chris Simpson (Eng) 11/2, 11/4, 11/9 (22m)
[2] Laura Massaro (Eng) bt [15] Dipika Pallikal (Ind) 7/11, 12/10, 11/9, 11/6 (45m)
21.00 [3] James Willstrop (Eng) v Simon Rosner (Ger) 11/9, 11/1, 11/6 (106m 41m play)
For more information and tomorrow’s schedule visit: www.britishopensquash.net

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