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14 Apr 2024

Willstrop & Gaultier To Face Up In New York Semis

15 Jan 2008

Second-seeded Frenchman Gregory Gaultier stemmed a brave fight back by Scot John White to beat the US-based former world number one in five games to set up a semi-final clash with England's fourth seed James Willstrop in the Bear Stearns Tournament of Champions at Grand Central Terminal in New York.

"Good for the crowd, not so good for me," was how Gaultier summed up his quarter-final victory in the PSA Super Series squash event over White, the 34-year-old PSA Tour veteran who is juggling his professional playing career while coaching the Franklin & Marshall College men's squash team. White had the standing room only crowd on their feet roaring with appreciation as he staved off two match balls in the third game with a display of unbridled determination, stunning shot-making and corner to corner court coverage.

Down 8-10 in the fourth, White hit a winner after the match's then-longest rally to close Gaultier's lead to one. The 9-10 behind, Gaultier seemed to have numerous match balls - but the never-say-die veteran picked up four winners off Gaultier's racquet, and finally hit a winner of his own to tie the score. A Gaultier error gave White game ball, but then White tinned to even the score again. A service return cross court nick winner gave White the edge once more, and then on game ball, he hit a stunning backhand volley cross court kill to keep him in the match.

"I got the bit between the teeth in the fourth game," said White. "For a moment there, I thought I was 19, but after that long rally to get to 9-10 in the fourth, I realised how old I am." White tried to slow the game down in the fifth game to conserve the little energy he had left, but Frenchman, who started the match with an easy confidence that was shaken by White's comeback, picked up the pace to win the decider 11-7.

Gaultier will next face fourth seed James Willstrop who eliminated Australian Stewart Boswell in four games. Willstrop, who has been a Tournament of Champions fan favourite since 2004 when, as a 20-year-old, he reached the quarter-finals, played a cautious opening game.

"Stewart can really punish you in the back of the court - so I wanted to pick my chances carefully," the 24-year-old Englishman said after the match. Boswell drew level after the second game - but Willstrop opened up his attacking game, taking the ball short and creating more opportunities for his natural shot-making ability, and won the third and fourth games with relative ease to claim an 11-8, 8-11, 11-5, 11-6 victory in 60 minutes.

Quarter-finals (bottom half of draw):
[4] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [8] Stewart Boswell (AUS) 11-8, 8-11, 11-5, 11-6 (60m)
[2] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [6] John White (SCO) 11-8, 11-5, 6-11, 10-11 (1-3), 11-7 (67m)