Battle of the big guys ends with South African in the Swedish Open semi-finals
By Squash Mad Reporter
James Willstrop’s return to the PSA Tour lasted two matches. He was beaten 3-1 by South African Stephen Coppinger in the second round of the Case Swedish open as his body let him know that it will take some time to return to the rhythms and demands of regular competition.
Coppinger knew he had a great chance to reach the last four of this PSA $70,000 tournament and stuck manfully to his task after Willstrop had won the third game on a tiebreak.
Coppinger hit back to triumph 11-7, 11-9, 11-13, 11-7 in 63 minutes.
It was the first time that Cape Town’s Coppinger had recorded a victory over Willstrop on the PSA World Tour, having failed on all three previous attempts, but he outshone the Yorkshire-based man from the start, continuing to show the kind of composure and discipline that has seen him rise eight places in the world rankings in the last three months while finishing as runner-up at the recent Motor City Open.
After taking the lead in the first game, Coppinger showed his hunger by coming from 3-7 down in the second game to extend his advantage and take a commanding lead against Willstrop.
The Englishman mounted a spirited fightback in the third game, eventually taking it 13-11 courtesy of four game balls, but he couldn’t maintain momentum and Coppinger saw out the match 11-7, 11-9, 11-13, 11-7 after 63 minutes.
“We all know that James is an outstanding squash player but he had quite a slow start today and only found his rhythm after a while,” said Coppinger.
Top seed Gregory Gaultier ended the run of qualifer Tom Richards, winning in straight games in 41 minutes.
Germany’s Simon Rosner was two minutes quicker as he overcame Egypt’s Marwan Elshorbagy, but No.2 seed Nick Matthew took 60 minutes to battle past Australian Cameron Pilley.
It may have been a 3-0 scoreline, but each game was closely fought, with Matthew’s experience the crucial factor at theend of each game.
The match between Matthew and Pilley was a very intense contest. Pilley gave Matthew a hard challenge which involved some hard hitting and long rallies.
After a great battle, Matthew praised the Australian, saying: “All credit to Cameron, who really contributed to a good match today.
“Cameron puts an incredible speed on the ball which makes it very hard for me . At the end itr was getting a bit desperate. He is very hard to shake off in the long rallies.”
Coppinger meets Gaultier in the first semi-final (Saturday, 2pm), followed by Matthew against Rosner.
Case Swedish Open, Linkoping Sports Hall, Sweden.
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) beat (Q) Tom Richards (ENG)
11-7, 11-7, 11-4 (41 mins)
 Stephen Coppinger (RSA) beat  James Willstrop (ENG)
11-7, 11-9, 11-13, 11-7 (63 mins)
 Simon Rösner (GER) beat  Marwan Elshorbagy (EGY)
11-6,11-6, 11-4 (39 mins)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) beat  Cameron Pilley (AUS)
12-10, 11-8, 12-10 (60 mins)
Saturday 7th February, semi-finals:
2pm:  Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v  Stephen Coppinger (RSA)
3.15pm:  Simon Rösner (GER) v  Nick Matthew (ENG)
Pictures by TOMMI TUPOLA