Elshorbagy & Willstrop Set Up San Francisco Semi
28 Sep 2017
England's 2016 runner-up James Willstrop and Egypt's Mohamed Elshorbagy, both former world number ones, will meet for the 21st time on the PSA World Tour after claiming straight games wins in the quarter-finals of the 2017 Oracle NetSuite Open, the PSA M100 event in San Francisco.
The packed crowd on Justin Herman Plaza witnessed Elshorbagy advancing to the last four of this tournament for the first time after he overcoming England's world No.12 Daryl Selby 11-5, 13-11, 11-6.
"At the beginning of the match I struggled a little bit," said the UK-based Egyptian who topped the world rankings for all but one month of 2015 and 2016.
"We both played a really high quality match in a good spirit like always, it was a good battle. It's my first year here and I'm absolutely loving it.
"The goal for me this season is to get my world No.1 spot back. I didn't play very well last season and I want to prove to myself that I can still get the wins when I play well."
Willstrop advanced to the semi-finals for the second successive year courtesy of a 3/0 triumph over Australia's world No.15 Ryan Cuskelly.
The match was much closer than the scoreline would suggest, with Cuskelly pushing Willstrop hard and not giving 'The Marksman' any room to breathe as he narrowly went down 11-9, 12-10, 11-9 in 59 minutes.
World No.7 Willstrop currently leads the head-to-head record against Elshorbagy 11/9, although the Egyptian has won the last four meetings.
"You've got to try not to forget that, even though you're down on points, you've still hopefully put him through some work and played the rallies well," said Willstrop, who came from behind to win both the second and third games against Cuskelly.
"There's pressure that might accumulate but I try not think about it because the more you think about the scoreline the worse it will be. You have to concentrate and forget about the scoreboard."
In the $50k women's event, India's unseeded Dipika Pallikal Karthik recorded a second successive seeding upset in the event when she defeated sixth-seeded US opponent Olivia Blatchford 13-11, 11-6, 11-9.
Currently ranked 21 in the world, the 26-year-old from Chennai will now renew her Asian rivalry with Nicol David, the former world number one from Malaysia. David came back from a match ball down to avoid a shock defeat to England's Victoria Lust, beating the fifth seed 11-5, 7-11, 11-6, 9-11, 12-10.
England's top two players Laura Massaro and Sarah-Jane Perry will go head-to-head in a repeat of March's British Open final after they managed respective wins over Egypt's Salma Hany Ibrahim and Australia's Donna Urquhart.
Massaro, the defending champion and world No.4, had lost out to Ibrahim the last time they met on the PSA World Tour two years ago but the Preston-based 33-year-old eased to victory in the first game before a resurgent Ibrahim levelled in the second.
But Massaro marched into a 10-1 lead in the third - ultimately seeing it out 11-4 - and the Englishwoman used that momentum to come out on top in a high quality fourth game to seal her place in a second consecutive Oracle NetSuite Open semi-final fixture by an 11-5, 12-14, 11-4, 11-7 scoreline.
"I had to keep myself really upbeat and had to have a lot of positive body language," said Massaro.
"I had to be really alert, had to keep my body language up and had to be 100 per cent respectful of a player with that talent and I'm really happy to get off with a win.
"It's a lively court, we've played on it a few times in other cities. For me personally, it's just about trying to stay positive at the front of the court. It's not natural for me to want to do that but once I've hit on a court that's as cold as this I want to be positive when I go short and I think I had that balance towards the end."
Birmingham-based Perry, meanwhile, surged into the semi-finals after beating Urquhart in straight games at the Bay Club San Francisco.
The world No.6 was dominant for the majority of the match and didn't drop a single point in the second game as she powered to an 11-9, 11-0, 11-9 victory to earn her place in the last four.
"Donna's such a tough opponent, last time we played it was really close and we've had some epic matches so I know how dangerous she is," said 2015 runner-up Perry.
"I'm feeling good and it will be great to play on the glass court, I've got good memories from two years ago. I love playing on the glass court, it'll be pretty awesome."