James Willstrop meets Gregory Gaultier in men’s final
By SEAN REUTHE
United States No.1 Amanda Sobhy will compete in the final of the NetSuite Open, PSA W50 tournament for the second year running after overcoming eight-time World Champion Nicol David in the semi-final stage of the 2016 edition in San Francisco.
The defending champion went a game down early on after a fast start from David saw the eight-time World Champion mix up her game to edge it on the tie-break. But Sobhy soon began to dominate and took the next three games to earn a first ever win over the Malaysian.
“Everything just clicked today. She’s a phenomenal player and I have the utmost respect for her,” said Sobhy, who will take on England’s Laura Massaro in the final.
“I knew it would be a battle, I just wanted it to be a fair match and for both of us to play our best. I lost the first game, but I knew I was right there in it and I just told myself to stay positives and I’m really happy that I was able to do that because I won.
“I had a seven-week training block this summer, which I’ve never done before in my entire life, so it’s really nice to see it all pay off and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Former World No.1 James Willstrop and World Champion Gregory Gautier will battle for honours in the Men’s PSA M100 final after they rose to respective wins against Diego Elias and Marwan ElShorbagy.
On the spectacular glass show court housed on Justin Herman Plaza, Willstrop played some of his very best squash in a ruthless display as he dismantled 19-year-old Peruvian Elias, with the pinpoint accuracy and intelligent shot selection that were the bedrock of his rise to World No.1 in 2012 in full flow.
The Yorkshireman romped to an 11-5, 11-3, 11-6 victory in 39 minutes to reach his biggest final since the Kuwait PSA Cup in 2013.
“It’s been a long recovery and you don’t know if you’re going to reach that level again,” said Willstrop, who has struggled with both a hip injury and illness over the past three years.
“I think the key is that I love playing squash and I’ve always found a great sense of enjoyment on the Tour, probably more so now then at any other time of my career.
“It’s great to be back in a major final like this and it’s good to know that it’s still in the bank.”
Gaultier, a winner in 2012 and 2014, was on the front foot from the outset and quickly sailed into a two-game lead against an out of sorts ElShorbagy.
The third game was a much closer affair as ElShorbagy finally found his length, only to see Gaultier ultimately take it on the tie-break to wrap up an 11-3, 11-7, 14-12 victory.
“I’m glad I got my speed back, I’ve been struggling this month and I wasn’t feeling great,” said Gaultier.
“I managed to find motivation again because I had a bit of a break at home. I tried to stay positive mentally, I’ve had a lot of friends helping me out to lift me back out when I was down. I’m happy with the way I was moving again.”
NetSuite Open 2016, Justin Herman Plaza, San Francisco, USA.
PSA M100 Semi-Finals:
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-0: 11-3, 11-7, 14-12 (45m)
[WC] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [Q] Diego Elias (PER) 3-0: 11-5, 11-3, 11-6 (39m)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v [WC] James Willstrop (ENG)
PSA W50 Semi-Final (Bottom Half):
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt  Nicol David (MAS) 3-1: 10-12, 11-5, 11-2, 11-5 (41m)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) v  Amanda Sobhy (USA)
Pictures by STEVE LINE (www.squashpics.com)