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Australian Open: Pilley outlasts Aziz to reach semis

Aussie Cam Pilley battles through to the semi-finals

Pilley Outlasts Aziz To Reach Semi Against Ashour

17 August 2012

RESULTS: PSA International 70 Hi-Tec Australian Open, Canberra, Australia

[1] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [6] Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 10-12, 11-4, 9-11, 11-8, 11-1
[4] Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt Omar Abdel Aziz (EGY) 11-9, 9-11, 11-7, 4-11, 11-6 (85m)
[3] Tom Richards (ENG) bt [7] Alan Clyne (SCO) 11-7, 11-6, 11-4 (37m)
[2] Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt [5] Ong Beng Hee (MAS) 13-11, 11-5, 12-10 (43m)

Australian number one Cameron Pilley survived his second five-game marathon in succession to defeat Egyptian Omar Abdel Aziz to reach the semi-finals of the Hi-Tec Australian Open in Canberra.

Barely 24 hours after being taken the distance by fellow Australian Zac Alexander in the second round of the PSA World Tour International 70 squash event, Pilley was pushed to the limit by the skilful Aziz before winning 11-9, 9-11, 11-7, 4-11, 11-6 to set up a dream semi-final against top seed and defending champion Ramy Ashour.

Pilley is one of the tallest players on the tour at 191 cm and he used his incredible reach to great advantage in the first game.

But every time the Australian looked like running away with the match, Aziz fought back to keep the large crowd at Canberra’s Royal Theatre enthralled as the two players battled each other and, at times, the three referees.

It is Pilley’s first major semi-final since he reached the same stage of the Malaysian Open in March last year, and keeps alive his hopes of winning the Australian title after finishing runner-up in 2004, 2007 and 2009.

“I’ve played Omar a couple of times and I knew it was going to be tough,” said the 29-year-old from New South Wales. “I’ve got a few years experience on him and I think that got me through in the fifth. I’m very happy with my concentration in the fifth, like yesterday.

“The other four games were just nip and tuck the whole way so I made a conscious effort in the fifth to put my head down and really concentrate on the start of the game – I was going to die on there before I lost that.”

Ashour faced his own battle before emerging victorious over sixth seed Nicolas Mueller. The Swiss number one has given Ashour trouble in the past and he looked on course for a major upset when he led two games to one.

Nick Mueller makes Ramy Ashour fight all the way

But the Egyptian claimed a tight fourth game then ran away with the fifth to win 10-12, 11-4, 9-11, 11-8, 11-1.

“That was very, very tiring physically and mentally,” Ashour said. “He is a good player and will make a breakthrough at a major tournament before too long. It’s too bad this was a quarter-final, this would have been a good final.”

The second semi-final will be between second-seeded Egyptian Omar Mosaad and third-ranked Englishman Tom Richards.

Mosaad hit a stunning array of winners on his way to downing Malaysia’s No6 seed Ong Beng Hee.

After saving a game point in the opening game, Mosaad got his nose in front and stayed there as he punished anything short from the Malaysian veteran, winning 13-11, 11-5, 12-10.

“I was lucky to win the first game,” he conceded. “I didn’t play my usual style because I wanted to finish it early. After I won the first I began to feel more confident in the second, but then in the third I wanted to finish three-love because he was starting to play so well.

“I was lucky to win three-love.”

Richards was in great touch as he comfortably saw off the challenge from Scottish number one Alan Clyne 11-7, 11-6, 11-4.

Clyne matched it with the third seed until midway through the first game when Richards pulled away and never looked back, showing he is a real contender to reach Sunday’s final.

“When you are playing someone like Alan who has the capability of making it last a long time and playing at a fast pace, you don’t want to be out there for 90 minutes,” a relieved Richards said.

Semi-final line-up:
[1] Ramy Ashour (EGY) v [4] Cameron Pilley (AUS)
[2] Omar Mosaad (EGY) v [3] Tom Richards (ENG)

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