The world’s two leading squash players, Nick Matthew and Ramy Ashour, will fight out the CSR Viridian Australian Open final on Sunday after contrasting wins in today’s (Saturday) semi-finals of the $142,500 PSA World Tour event – the fourth PSA Super Series championship of the year – in Canberra.
World number one Nick Matthew, the top seed, enjoyed a solid 11-7, 11-8, 11-8 win over fellow Englishman James Willstrop before the second ranked Egyptian Ramy Ashour beat Frenchman Gregory Gaultier 5-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7, 11-7 in a mercurial semi-final.
Ashour and Gaultier entertained the big crowd at Canberra’s Royal Theatre with a spectacular display of squash, mixed in with some highly entertaining interplay with each other, the crowd and the central referee.
“It’s more a mental game than a physical one at this level,” said Ashour, now in the 26th PSA Tour final of his career. “It’s really tough to play Greg – he’s such a great player and I knew I had to keep focusing if I wanted to be able to beat him.”
Ashour and Matthew have met 10 times in their career with the Egyptian winning six times and Matthew four. However, the Sheffield-based Englishman won their last encounter at the final of the Tournament of Champions in New York in February.
Matthew looked incredibly solid in his win over Willstrop, showing why he is ranked as the world’s top player.
He took all the sting out of Willstrop’s game, not easy against someone who beat former world number ones David Palmerand Amr Shabana on the way to the semi-finals.
“I’m always happy to win 3/0 and in the semi-final it’s all the better really,” said Matthew, who recently celebrated his 30th birthday.
“I played well today and got a good start in each game which is crucial and I think at the end I got the big points as well.
“James is one of the gutsiest players on tour and he’s very skilful as well, so combine that with his reach you always need to hit those extra three or four shots every rally,” added the Yorkshireman whose 35th career PSA Tour final tomorrow will also be his eighth in the last nine events he has played!
It was a disappointing outcome for Willstrop on the eve of his 27th birthday.
 Nick Matthew (ENG) bt  James Willstrop (ENG) 11-7, 11-8, 11-8 (59m)
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt  Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 5-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7, 11-7 (80m)