Gaultier aims to halt home hopes
By NATHAN CLARKE in Manchester
England are guaranteed at least one presence in the final of the 2016 AJ Bell Squash Grand Prix after three-time World Champion Nick Matthew was joined by former World No.1 James Willstrop and current World No.16 Daryl Selby in the last four of the PSA M70 tournament taking place at the National Squash Centre, Manchester.
Three-time tournament winner Matthew secured his berth courtesy of a 3-1 win over in-form Hong Kong number one Max Lee, setting up a semi-final clash with Essex-man Selby.
Willstrop, with whom Matthew has contested a fierce domestic rivalry for more than a decade, will face 2015 World Champion Gregory Gaultier, the man Matthew beat to claim two of his three World Championship crowns.
“I had to work hard and play well physically tonight to beat Max and solve the problems he imposed on me, and there will be more of that tomorrow,” said 36-year-old Matthew.
“I know very well what to expect from Daryl. He has a very economical game. If he moves well he tends to play well, and he is moving well at the moment. So I’ll have to work hard.
“My game plan didn’t work as well as I’d have liked today. In the second game I was sloppy and gave him a bit of a lead and I felt I gave him a few easy points. But I managed to win the big points and that will also be important tomorrow.”
Pictures by Patrick Lauson
Selby booked his place in the last four courtesy of a 3-1 win over up-and-coming English youngster Richie Fallows, while Willstrop downed Australian number one Cameron Pilley to set up his encounter with Gaultier, where the Frenchman will be hoping to prevent an all-English finale.
In his first tournament since injury struck during the semi-final stage of November’s 2016 World Championship, the 33-year-old World No.3 put in a commanding performance to beat Malaysian Nafiizwan Adnan 3-1.
“Coming here I just wanted to play so I’m happy to get through to the semi-finals,” said Gaultier.
“Hopefully this will help build up my confidence, because I haven’t played for a while. But I’m used to playing in this stage of competitions, so hopefully I can push on and I’ll try to adapt my routine a little to make sure I am ready for the challenge.”
On Gaultier, Willstrop said: “I’m excited about tomorrow. It’s a thrill to be playing here in this atmosphere – these are the events and environments that you want to play in and why you play the game.
“There’s history between Greg and I, so I’ll get my head around it and look forward to tomorrow and try and enjoy playing against him again on a big occasion.”
2016 AJ Bell British Squash Grand Prix, Manchester, England.
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) 3-1: 11-7, 9-11, 11-4, 11-2 (56m)
 James Willstrop (ENG) bt  Cameron Pilley (AUS) 3-1: 12-10, 6-11, 11-8, 11-9 (71m)
 Daryl Selby (ENG) bt [Q] Richie Fallows (ENG) 3-1: 11-6, 11-7, 8-11, 11-6 (56m)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) bt  Max Lee (HKG) 3-1: 11-5, 5-11, 11-8, 11-7 (61m)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v  James Willstrop (ENG)
 Daryl Selby (ENG) v  Nick Matthew (ENG)
Tickets for the 2016 AJ Bell British Squash Grand Prix are available to purchase on the door.
More information regarding the 2016 AJ Bell British Squash Grand Prix can be found at: www.ajbellsquashgrandprix.com
Pictures by PATRICK LAUSON