Simon Rosner and Cam Pilley so close to shock wins on night of drama in San Francisco
From NATHAN CLARKE in San Francisco
Alcatraz may no longer be in use as a prison in San Francisco Bay, but Nick Matthew and Miguel Angel Rodrigue both got themselves out of jail here last night as they made great escapes in the quarter-finals of the NetSuite Classic.
Three-time world champion Matthew was forced to draw on all his 18 years of professional experience as he came within a whisker of exiting the 2015 NetSuite Open at the quarter-final stage against German Simon Rösner in San Francisco today (Sept 26).
In all their seven previous meetings Matthew, the 35-year-old winner of 33 PSA World Tour titles, had never dropped more than a game against the 27-year-old World No.7. But he needed all his trademark fighting spirit to keep his tournament alive when he found himself 10-6 and match-ball down in the fourth game.
Matthew, traditionally one of the strongest starters on tour, was behind from the off as Rösner came out firing with precision and pace to take the opening game. And, after sealing the third after a nervy tie-break, the powerful man from Paderborn looked on course to record a career-defining win.
But Matthew called on every fibre of his Yorkshire grit to save four match-balls and force a fifth and deciding game, which he eventually sealed 11-7 after 96 minutes of compelling, nail-biting drama.
“I’ve a good head to head record against him and normally I’ve broken him down after a game or two but tonight I never felt like I did that and I had to fight for every point,” said Matthew.
“He was taking the volley away from me and mentally I had to put in so much focus to every shot that I struggled to implement my game plan. I had to dig deep and all credit to him as that’s the best he’s played against me.
“I used all my experience in that fourth game to make sure I didn’t panic and stay composed but aggressive as well. There were a lot of guts in there as well because I just didn’t want to lose tonight.
“Once it got to the fifth I felt like I had the momentum and the experience behind me. I thought that if I managed a good start then I could push on and I’m happy I managed to do that.” A disappointed Simon Rosner said: “Well, what can I say. This is very frustrating. I havent been this close to a win before against a top four player.
“Not being able to close it out in the fourth really gave me a sleepless night today. I need to review things and make it better next time. I did play some great squash out there, don’t get me wrong, and I was very pleased with the way I played. I hope I can eventually get that very important win against a top four player.”
Matthew’s opponent in the semi-final will be the entertaining Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez, who secured his place in the last four courtesy of a similarly dramatic come-from-behind win over Australian Cameron Pilley in a titanic 108-minute battle.
Rodriguez too was match-ball down in the fourth game against an inspired Pilley, who produced some of his best play of the last 18-months to dictate the pace and unsettle the Colombian from the start, but after a series of nervy exchanges the man from Bogota managed to save the match and force a decider – which he managed to sneak 11-8.
“Cameron played very well tonight and I had to play at 100 per cent in the entire match to try and match him,” said Rodriguez.
“He’s a very talented player and he was playing amazing today. I was focusing so much on retrieving the ball and not making a mistake in that forth game, which was crucial, and I was lucky to win the match.”
NetSuite Open, PSA M100, San Francisco, USA.
 Nick Matthew (ENG) bt  Simon Rösner (GER) 3-2: 5-11, 11-7, 11-13, 13-11, 11-7 (96m)
 Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt Cameron Pilley (AUS) 3-2: 6-11, 11-3, 8-11, 14-12, 11-8 (108m)
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) v [Q] Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) – To Be Played Sunday Sept 78
 James Willstrop (ENG) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA) – To Be Played Sunday Sept 27
Pictures by STEVE LINE (www.squashpics.com) courtesy of NetSuite Open