10:04 am
27 Feb 2024

England Team-Mates Reach English Open Semis

16 Dec 2007

Less than a week after playing alongside each other to win the Men's World Team Championship title for England in India, James Willstrop and Peter Barker will face each other in Monday's semi-finals of the Mamut English Open after successfully overcoming their quarter-final opposition today at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.

The pair will be joined in the last four by the third member of the world title-winning England team. Nick Matthew, the England No1, will face Scotland's John White in the other semi-final.

Fourth seed Barker, the 24-year-old from Essex who clinched the world title for England by winning the decider against Australia, took only 27 minutes to reserve his place in the last four of the 5-star PSA Tour event, beating English qualifier Chris Ryder 11-5, 11-3, 11-1.

"I played well in India and carried that forward to here," said the left-hander. "But it's a monumental step up to play James tomorrow - I'll have to improve again.

"He's a quality opponent - but he's the sort of guy I've got to beat to get into the world top five."

Favourite Willstrop faced seventh seed Renan Lavigne - the Frenchman Barker beat as England despatched France in the world semi-finals. The 24-year-old from Pontefract took four games to overcome the French No3 11-6, 11-5, 9-11, 11-8 in 44 minutes.

Willstrop and Barker have played each other countless times in the past - particularly during their junior careers when they met in the finals of the British, European and World Championships, with the Yorkshireman boasting a 100% success.

"Peter's firmly established in the world's top 16 now and has had some good results. I'll need to play well to beat him - I'll have to be 100%," said Willstrop, who has only lost to his England team-mate once in 12 meetings over the past six years.

Local hero Nick Matthew, the 27-year-old world No5 from Sheffield who is the second seed, brushed aside unseeded Englishman Jonathan Kemp, beating the 26-year-old left-hander from Telford 11-9, 11-7, 11-4.

"I just about did enough today," said Matthew, runner-up two years ago. "Jon can hit winners from anywhere, so I had to keep focussed. I'm still feeling the effects of jet-lag, but I should be fine tomorrow."

Matthew will face third seed John White, the event's inaugural champion in 2003. The US-based Scot was coasting to a straight games win over Canadian Shahier Razik when his movement became hampered by a back injury.

"It happened about half way through the third game - it seems I may have pinched a nerve in my lower back," said White later. After dropping the third game, and taking a three-minute injury break at the beginning of the fourth, White came back to beat the sixth seed 11-2, 11-8, 10-11 (2-4), 11-9 in 43 minutes.

"I started to slow-ball it in the fourth game, and the problem eased up slightly," added a relieved White.

Quarter-finals:
[1] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [7] Renan Lavigne (FRA) 11-6, 11-5, 9-11, 11-8 (44m)
[4] Peter Barker (ENG) bt [Q] Chris Ryder (ENG) 11-5, 11-3, 11-1 (27m)
[3] John White (SCO) bt [6] Shahier Razik (CAN) 11-2, 11-8, 10-11 (2-4), 11-9 (43m)
[2] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt Jonathan Kemp (ENG) 11-9, 11-7, 11-4 (34m)