Diego Elias topples Nick Matthew to reach San Francisco semi-finals
By SEAN REUTHE in San Francisco
Peruvian World No.17 Diego Elias and England’s World No.6 Sarah-Jane Perry upset the seedings on the day three of the 2017 Oracle NetSuite Open main draw after they achieved respective victories over English duo Nick Matthew and Laura Massaro at the stunning glass showcourt on Justin Herman Plaza, San Francisco.
Elias, 20, and Matthew, 37 were the youngest and oldest players, respectively, in the main draw of the men’s event and the pair played out an incredible opening game which saw Matthew prevail 19-17 after an incredible 32 minutes of play.
But the brutal nature of that game took its toll on the Yorkshireman as Elias claimed wins in the final three games to take reach the semi-finals courtesy of a 17-19, 11-6, 11-3, 11-6 victory in 68 minutes, bringing an end to Matthew’s last ever Oracle NetSuite Open after last week’s announcement that he will retire from the sport at the end of the season.
“I just wanted to do my best today, although I knew it was his last year and I didn’t want to beat him,” said Elias, who also reached the last four last year.
“I was playing my best but he’s an idol for me and I’ve always looked up to him ever since I was a little kid, so playing him here and having the opportunity to play this amazing game with him was very special for me and I’m really happy to win.
“This is my lucky tournament, I was in the semis last year and I love playing here. The crowd are amazing, I’ve had an amazing tournament and I want to keep playing like this, I hope I can keep winning here.”
Elias will take on World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad for a place in the final after the World No.2 defeated fellow Egyptian Tarek Momen in four games.
Gawad looked out of sorts in the opening stages and struggled to deal with the cold conditions on a dead court, making lots of errors as Momen took the opener for the loss of four points.
He completely changed things around in the second game though as he dropped five points en route to victory in the second game, while he capitalised on a loss of focus from Momen in the third to come back from 7-3 down before closing out the fourth to seal an 4-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-8 triumph.
“It’s harder to play one of your best mates and he’s [Tarek] like a brother to me,” said Gawad.
“I grew up watching him and I remember him playing one of the other Egyptian guys and I was so impressed and now we’re here playing and competing together. We had been playing at the same club for 10 years, I’ve moved to another club now but we still train together and are very close.
“It’s always to tough to play such a physical and gifted opponent.”
The first semi-final from the women’s tournament took place today and saw Perry claim her first ever win over defending champion and England teammate Massaro on the PSA World Tour to reach the final of the Oracle NetSuite Open for the second time in three years.
Perry and World No.4 Massaro were partners in the WSF World Doubles Championships earlier this year but were going head-to-head for the fourth time on the Tour with Perry failing to take more than a game in all of their previous meetings.
But she held off the World No.4 in San Francisco to take an 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-7 victory which will see her take on either Malaysia’s eight-time World Champion Nicol David or India’s World No.21 Dipika Pallikal Karthik in the final.
“I have beaten her once before but it wasn’t on the Tour, so it’s the first time I’ve beaten her on the Tour,” said Perry, who also reached the final in 2015.
“I probably had a bit of a mental block against Laura over the last few matches and she’s had a really good game plan against me, executed it perfectly and left me very, very frustrated.
“I played some really good squash, Laura played some really fantastic squash, so I’m really happy to come out with a win against a really tough opponent.”
The 2017 Oracle NetSuite Open continues tomorrow (September 29) with both semi-final matches from the men’s tournament, while the semi-final match from the bottom half of the women’s event will also take place tomorrow – all of the action will be shown live on SQUASHTV (Rest of World) and Eurosport Player (Europe only).
2017 Oracle NetSuite Open, San Francisco, USA.
Men’s Quarter-Finals (Bottom Half):
Diego Elias (PER) bt  Nick Matthew (ENG) 3-1: 17-19, 11-6, 11-3, 11-6 (68m)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt  Tarek Momen (EGY) 3-1: 4-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-8 (56m)
Semi-Finals (To Be Played September 29th):
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v  James Willstrop (ENG)
Diego Elias (PER) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
Women’s Semi-Final (Top Half):
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt  Laura Massaro (ENG) 3-2: 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-7 (68m)
Semi-Final (Bottom Half, To Be Played September 29th):
Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND) v  Nicol David (MAS)
Pictures courtesy of PSA