8:37 am
24 Jul 2024

Matthew & Kitchen Claim Shock Semi-Final Berths In Melbourne

18 Mar 2006

New Zealander Shelley Kitchen and Englishman Nick Matthew both secured surprise places in the squash semi-finals in the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne after significant upsets in today's quarter-finals at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.

Matthew staged a dramatic and courageous fight-back against second-seeded compatriot James Willstrop. Down 1/2 in games and facing match-ball at 2-8 in the fourth, the seventh seed from Sheffield refused to give up - saving five match-balls in all before winning the game 10-8 to draw level, then maintaining his incredible momentum through the fifth to earn a remarkable 9-3, 3-9, 8-10, 10-8, 9-5 victory in 82 minutes.

"It's fantastic, I'm in with a medal chance," said an ecstatic Matthew afterwards. "I think anyone who gets through to the semis has a good chance of winning. This shows just how strong English squash is at the moment," added the recently-crowned British national champion.
A dejected Willstrop, who goes on to partner Matthew in the men's doubles, said: "It was a massive scrap out there. I spilled blood out there, and that's what I came to do. I didn't win it and I'm absolutely devastated.
"It ended for me in the fourth," said the 22-year-old from Pontefract. "I just didn't have the energy and I couldn't push my legs any more."

Matthew's success guarantees England at least a silver medal in the men's event as he will meet team-mate Peter Nicol in the semi-finals. In the shortest men's quarter-final of the day, Nicol kept alive his hopes of a third successive appearance in the final with a confident 9-5, 9-1, 9-3 win over Canada's 12th seed Graham Ryding in 48 minutes.

Remarkably, the 1998 champion's meeting with Matthew will mark the third unexpected opponent in a row he has had to face, as all the expected seeds in his half of the draw made early exits.

The other men's semi-final will feature top-seeded Australian David Palmer and England's fifth seed Lee Beachill. Palmer, the world No2 from Lithgow in New South Wales, recovered from a game down to beat Scotland's Australian-born sixth seed John White 2-9, 10-8, 9-6, 9-0 in 79 minutes to reach the last four for the second successive time.

Beachill put paid to an all-Australian semi-final when he beat tenth seed Stewart Boswell - the surprise third round winner over his doubles partner and third seed Anthony Ricketts - 9-4, 9-3, 9-3 in 73 minutes to make the last four in the Games for the first time.

Shelley Kitchen has become the giant-killer of the women's event. The 26-year-old ninth seed from Auckland followed her shock second round victory over England's fifth seed Jenny Duncalf by defeating another Team England player, fourth seed Vicky Botwright, 10-8, 9-5, 9-1 in 42 minutes.

In the semi-finals, Kitchen will face Australia's second seed Rachael Grinham, who made the last four for the second time when she ended England's medal hopes with a 1-9, 9-5, 9-5, 9-3 win in 43 minutes over sixth seed Linda Elriani.

Earlier, Malaysian favourite Nicol David took 44 minutes to overcome England's eighth seed Tania Bailey 9-6, 10-9, 9-3 to set up a semi-final clash with third seed Natalie Grinham. Rachael's younger sister, from Toowoomba in Queensland, beat Ireland's No7 seed Madeline Perry 9-1, 9-7, 4-9, 9-3 in 57 minutes.

The squash action has attracted significant crowds - including HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh - to the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre. Capacity crowds of more than 2,000 are reported for the quarter-finals through to Monday's finals.

Men's quarter-finals:
[1] David Palmer (AUS) bt [6] John White (SCO) 2-9, 10-8, 9-6, 9-0 (79m)
[5] Lee Beachill (ENG) bt [10] Stewart Boswell (AUS) 9-4, 9-3, 9-3 (73m)
[4] Peter Nicol (ENG) bt [12] Graham Ryding (CAN) 9-5, 9-1, 9-3 (48m)
[7] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [2] James Willstrop (ENG) 9-3, 3-9, 8-10, 10-8, 9-5 (82m)

Women's quarter-finals:
[1] Nicol David (MAS) bt [8] Tania Bailey (ENG) 9-6, 10-9, 9-3 (44m)
[3] Natalie Grinham (AUS) bt [7] Madeline Perry (NIR) 9-1, 9-7, 4-9, 9-3 (57m)
[9] Shelley Kitchen (NZL) bt [4] Vicky Botwright (ENG) 10-8, 9-5, 9-1 (42m)
[2] Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt [6] Linda Elriani (ENG) 1-9, 9-5, 9-5, 9-3 (43m)