First World Series semi for two years as Willstrop beats Steve Coppinger
By NATHAN CLARKE
England’s 33-year-old World No.19 James Willstrop will compete in the semi-finals of a PSA World Series tournament for the first time since 2014 after he successfully navigated his was through a tough last eight encounter with South Africa’s Stephen Coppinger at the 2016 Delaware Investments U.S. Open today.
The former World No.1 has not reached the latter stages of one of the PSA Tour’s most significant events since undergoing surgery on a potentially career-ending hip injury in the summer of 2014, but showed signs that he’s approaching his best as he recovered form a slow start to put together a standout performance to come through 11-9, 5-11, 11-8, 11-3 in just under an hour.
“I feel great right now – it’s such a pleasure to be out here at the US Open and to reach a semi-final again feels very good,” said Willstrop.
“Each player on Tour is so different these days. I played well against Omar (Mosaad World No.3) in the first round but it was a completely different type of test again today. Stephen puts so much pressure on you and he was getting onto everything I played – so I had to think of ways to switch him and move him around.
“I had to be very clear in what I was doing to open up the spaces and at 1-1 there it was becoming a real battle – it was definitely a tough, tough match.
“Experience was maybe the one card I had on him. I’ve been in that situation before and I had to remind myself that I knew how to do it. That can go out the window in play because there are so many tough competitors out there – but in the end I just had to beat the guy and thankfully that’s what I did.”
Willstrop will now face World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy – the man he stunned during the 2015 World Championship in Seattle – for a place in the final after the 25-year-old Egyptian defeated his younger brother, and World No.6, Marwan ElShorbagy in straight games.
“To be able to finish three-nil today is lucky because mentally it’s tough for us on there,” said ElShorbagy after the latest clash between the Bristol-based brothers.
“I have such great memories of playing here at the US Open. It’s where I got to the No.1 ranking for the first time. Today was the first time this season that I felt like I was moving and playing well and it should be a good match against James in the next round.”
In the Women’s draw Egyptian duo Raneem El Welily, the World No.5, and Nour El Sherbini, the World No.1, will face off in the semi-finals in a rematch of the Al Ahram Open final after they came through their last eight encounters in contrasting fashion.
El Sherbini put in a display of pure dominance as she out-muscled Alison Waters of England 3-0 while El Welily had to produce some of the best squash of her season to take out a hungry and fired up Nicol David, the eight-time World Champion who came out with a point to prove in what turned into an exhibition of squash at the highest calibre.
David, who scraped through 3-2 in her second round encounter with Nour El Tayeb, played positive, attacking squash from the off and, in a feisty spirit not normally associated with the Malaysian, she took on El Welily at her own free-firing game.
Both players dragged each other around in a blur of spellbinding movement but it was El Welily who sealed it when David showed the honesty and integrity befitting her status as one of the all time greats by conceding a double bounce on match ball.
“I’m so, so happy to win,” said El Welily. “There were so many points when I didn’t think I was going to make it – she was playing so well. I think I was always behind and she was controlling it so I just had to dig deep and keep on pushing to stay on court as long as I could.
“I was so happy to finish that fourth game because I don’t think I could have played a fifth one. I don’t know how I turned it around – I’m so happy to be in the semis.”
2016 Delaware Investments U.S. Open quarter-final action continues from 5:30pm local time at Drexel University’s Daskalakis Athletic Centre on Thursday October 13 when USA number one Amanda Sobhy will be up against Nouran Gohar of Egypt. Tickets for the PSA World Series tournament available to purchase by visiting www.usopensquash.com
Delaware Investments US Open 2016, Drexel University, Philadelphia, USA.
PSA M150 Men’s Quarter-finals:
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-0: 11-7, 11-5, 12-10 (50m)
James Willstrop (ENG) bt Stephen Coppinger (RSA) 3-1: 11-9, 5-11, 11-8, 11-3 (58m)
Quarter-finals (Bottom Half, October 13):
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v Ali Farag (EGY)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
PSA W150 Women’s Quarter-finals:
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt  Alison Waters (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-2, 11-6 (27m)
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt  Nicol David (MAS) 3-2: 8-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-9 (57m)
Quarter-finals (Bottom Half, October 13):
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) v  Amanda Sobhy (USA)
 Camille Serme (FRA) v  Laura Massaro (ENG)
Pictures by STEVE LINE (www.squashpics.com)