Hopes of the first all-US Bluenose Classic final in Canada were dashed when both Julian Illingworth and Gilly Lane crashed out of the semi-finals of the PSA World Tour International 50 squash event in its sixth year at St Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Lane, a qualifier from Philadelphia, made his breakthrough in the previous round when he ousted highly-rated EgyptianMohammed Abbas, a former world No13.
But the 25-year-old world No66 was unable to reproduce his giant-killing prowess against second seed Mohd Azlan Iskandar – though it took the world No13 from Malaysia 44 minutes to beat the US number two 11-6, 11-5, 11-3.
“Early in the third game, Lane appeared to have tweaked something in his left leg and began limping around with a painful expression,” explained tournament spokesman Jon Boody. “Iskandar sensing control, brutally moved Lane around the court with tight drops and pounding drives. Lane scrambled about retrieving, digging, and even diving at a couple of balls to sustain the rally, but it was doing little to either tire Iskandar or present an opportunity to score any points.
“Iskandar scored eight unanswered points to close the game 11-3 and the match 3/0.”
Unseeded Illingworth, winner of a record six US national titles, removed top-seeded Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema in the previous round in his maiden win over the world No11.
The New Yorker’s next opponent was Hisham Mohd Ashour, the third from Egypt who is enjoying the form of his life. Illingworth, ranked 40 in the world, pushed world No17 Ashour to two lengthy tie-break games – but it was the 28-year-old from Cairo who ultimately emerged triumphant after 72 minutes, winning 14-12, 11-9, 14-12.
Illingworth was full of praise for his Egyptian opponent: “His length is really good, his width, his cross-courts,” explained the 27-year-old afterwards. “He hits all those flashy winners, but he sets them up with good width.”
 Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS) bt [Q] Gilly Lane (USA) 11-6, 11-5, 11-3 (44m)
 Hisham Mohd Ashour (EGY) bt Julian Illingworth (USA) 14-12, 11-9, 14-12 (72m)