Alison Waters overcomes Sarah-Jane Perry to reach 10th final
By DONNA HELMER
Ten-time National champion Nick Matthew will take on long-time domestic rival James Willstrop in the men’s final of the 2018 Dunlop National Squash Championships at Manchester’s National Squash Centre. There was major shock in the women’s semi-finals when Welsh No.1 Tesni Evans overcame top seed Laura Massaro, a repeat of her recent victory in the AJ Bell World Championships, also held in Manchester.
Yorkshire rivals Matthew and Willstrop have locked horns in five previous Nationals finals with three-time World Champion Matthew enjoying the lion’s share of victories.
Matthew, 37, booked his place after overcoming Chris Simpson 3-1 in an enthralling semi-final match-up, winning 6-11, 11-2, 11-9, 11-6 in 64 minutes.
Underdog Simpson took a surprise first game lead, before Matthew surged to draw level in the second.
The three-time world champion utilised his experience to clinch the next two and book a place in the Nationals final for an 11th year in succession.
“I thought Chris played really well – I had to get feisty and angry. We train a lot together and that is the best I have ever seen him play,” said Matthew.
“It feels good to be in another final and I am pleased to get through and have another battle against James tomorrow.”
Willstrop booked his place in the final for the ninth time after overcoming Daryl Selby in three games, winning 11-9, 11-4, 11-2 in 35 minutes.
The two-time national champion, who has lost only once in 26 matches versus Selby, rapidly dispatched an ailing Selby, who was suffering from an injury as the game progressed.
“It is a great pleasure to be playing at 34 years old – we have a wonderful life,” said Willstrop.
“We have always had a great relationship me and Daryl. We play doubles together and it is good to work with him.”
Selby revealed: “I’ve had a problem since last week, and it’s unfortunate that there’s no-one with me this week to help. I was hoping I could get through with it, and it was fine in the first game, but it flared up in the second and I just couldn’t compete after that.”
Willstrop, through to his ninth final, sympathised : “We’re both in our 30s, you have to look after your body but sometimes it lets you down. Daryl played well at the start, and while you never like to profit from someone’s injury, it’s good to be through to the final with a bit of effort saved.”
In the women’s championships, defending champion Laura Massaro and second seed Sarah-Jane Perry were knocked out to lower ranked opposition.
Defending champion and top seed Laura Massaro was knocked out of the Dunlop National Squash Championships at the semi-final stage for the first time in four years after being overpowered by Wales’ Tesni Evans in three games: 11-3, 11-8, 11-9 (36m).
The 25-year-old, who beat Massaro in round two of the PSA World Championships in December, started the brighter of the pair – racing to an 11-3 lead before Massaro could find her rhythm.
Massaro, the World no.4, looked to have recovered from an early onset of nerves when the Lancastrian took a 7-3 lead, before Evans broke back, claiming five successive points to clinch a decisive second game.
Cardiff born Evans, who was playing in her second British National semi-final in three years, again ramped up the pressure in the third, battling back from 3-2 down to grind down her opponent and go 8-2 up.
Massaro’s never say die attitude, which has come to define much of her professional career, once again came to the fore in the third – refusing to give in to her younger opponent and battling back to 6-8 down.
However, the World No.12 displayed enough quality and composure to hold off Massaro and book her place in her first British National final.
“To get to the final means a lot. At this tournament there are always more English players than Welsh, so for us smaller countries it means so much,” said Evans.
“To have a performance like that it is fantastic. I have a very good support group behind me and that was a big thank you to all of them.
“I am really looking forward to tomorrow and I will try to be relaxed about the situation.
Four-time National Champion Alison Waters will meet her in the final after she endured an epic five game thriller with Sarah-Jane Perry: 11-6, 11-4, 8-11, 10-12, 11-5 (61m).
Waters raced to a two-game lead and required only one point for victory before Perry battled back to claim two and force a deciding game.
Waters kept her composure to clinch victory and progress to her tenth British National Championship final.
“Thank god I won! We have had some battles over the years. Sarah-Jane is such an amazing player,” said Waters.
“I want a fifth title desperately and I will be giving my all to get it.”
Watch live streaming of the finals on SquashTV and BBC Sport from 5:30pm.
Dunlop British National Championship 2018, National Squash Centre, Manchester, England.
 Nick Matthew (Yorks) v  James Willstrop (Yorks)
 Nick Matthew (Yorks) bt [5/8] Chris Simpson (Yorks) 6-11, 11-2, 11-9, 11-6 (64m)
 James Willstrop (Yorks) bt [3/4] Daryl Selby (Essex) 11-9, 11-4, 11-2 (35m)
[3/4] Tesni Evans (Wales) v [3/4] Alison Waters (Middx)
[3/4] Tesni Evans (Wales) bt  Laura Massaro (Lancs) 11-3, 11-8, 11-9 (36m)
[3/4] Alison Waters (Middx) bt  Sarah-Jane Perry (Warwicks) 11-6, 11-4, 8-11, 10-12, 11-5 (61m)
Irish twins, Nick and Rob Staunton sensationally overpowered the tops seeds in the MO45’s on day four of the Dunlop National Masters Championships to set up a final sibling showdown in Manchester.
Making his MO45 debut, [3/4] Nick Staunton overcame number one seed Michael Harris in a gruelling five-game encounter to win 11-6, 6-11, 11-6, 7-11, 11-4.
Meanwhile, his brother, [5/8] Rob Staunton dispatched second seed Paul Boyle 3-1: 7/11, 11/9, 14/12, 11/9.
Pictures courtesy of England Squash