8:12 am
14 Apr 2024

Willstrop & Gaultier In Richmond Final

1 Mar 2008

Gregory Gaultier and James Willstrop - ranked three and four, respectively, in the world - will contest the final of the 2008 Davenport Professional Squash Championship after impressive semi-final performances in the $77,500 PSA Super Series event at the University of Richmond in Virginia, USA.

In-form Englishman Willstrop swept through to his fourth Tour final in a row when he beat a tired Karim Darwish, clearly still feeling the effects of his marathon upset over fellow Egyptian Ramy Ashour in the previous round.

Often a slow starter, Willstrop was into his stride right away - catching sixth seed Darwish unawares as he piled up the points with gusto.

"The March world rankings pushed Willstrop up to number four in the world - and he played like it," said an event spokesman. "Darwish simply had no answer to Willstrop's superb length and his ability to take the ball early."

After running away with the first game in just over ten minutes, Willstrop was given more of a contest in the second as Darwish built up a 5-2 lead. Willstrop was not fazed and continued to attack, always on the lookout for winners. This was now evenly-matched high quality squash which drew the capacity crowd into the drama of the game. At seven-all it looked as though this could go to five games.

Willstrop got to game ball 10-8 but Darwish did not give up and hit a backhand winner of his own to save the first game ball and was given the second when Willstrop's volley drop hit the tin to force a tie break. The next really ended when the referees denied Darwish a let - but Willstrop snatched at a shot and sent the ball into the tin to make the score 11-all. Another backhand chop drop put Willstrop at game ball again and when the ball took a strange bounce in the back left corner Darwish was cruelly foxed and hit the ball into the tin to finish an entertaining 20-minute game.

Sadly, when he came back for the third game Darwish quickly showed that his gas tank was empty as the fourth-seeded Yorkshireman ran through to wrap up an 11-4, 11-10 (3-1), 11-1 victory in 39 minutes.

The win takes England number one Willstrop through to his 15th PSA Tour final - and comes hot on the heels of his Tour title success in the Swedish Open last month, followed closely by his domestic triumph in the British National Championship.

The second semi was a bit of an anti-climax; Scot John White, who recorded a stunning quarter-final victory over giant-killing Finn Olli Tuominen, was prevented from matching his achievement over second seed Gregory Gaultier.

The French star moved up several gears and everything he tried at the front of the court came off. White admitted later that he was unable to do anything: "When you come up against someone playing as well as Gregory, there is really nothing you can do. It's very frustrating. Yesterday was great. Today was not."

Gaultier's 11-7, 11-4, 11-7 victory over the seventh seed in 41 minutes takes the 25-year-old from Aix-en-Provence through to his 26th PSA Tour final - but his first since finishing as runner-up in the World Open in Bermuda in December.

Semi-finals:
[4] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [6] Karim Darwish (EGY) 11-4, 11-10 (3-1), 11-1 (39m)
[2] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [7] John White (SCO) 11-7, 11-4, 11-7 (41m)