12:57 am
21 Jun 2024

Borja Battles Into Paris Final

27 Sep 2008

Borja Golan kept up his giant-killing run in the Internationaux de France when he battled for 71 minutes to beat world number three James Willstrop to reach the final of the $62,000 5-star PSA Tour event in Paris.

The sixth-seeded Spaniard will face local favourite Gregory Gaultier in the climax of the first major squash championship to be held in the French capital since 1995. In a repeat of the final of the last Internationaux de France, in Antibes in 2002, the Frenchman toppled Englishman Nick Matthew in straight games.

Golan, the 25-year-old world No23 from Santiago DC, upset France's former world number one Thierry Lincou for the first time in the previous round - describing it as "the best win of my career".

The Spaniard survived two tie-break games as he defeated Willstrop, the second seed, 12-10, 6-11, 12-10, 5-11, 11-8.

"I think that, without a doubt, this is the best tournament, and the best performance I ever did in my life," Golan explained to www.squashsite.co.uk afterwards. "And I've got a lot of hopes for tomorrow's match against Greg.

"Tonight, I tried to keep James under pressure - like I did yesterday with Thierry - but by playing more in the front that I did against Thierry, because I knew that James was struggling with his injury, and that he had problem moving to the front to get my drop shots," added Golan - now in the 23rd PSA Tour final of his career, and the fourth this year.

Willstrop, playing his first tournament since sustaining an ankle injury in training, refused to blame his setback: "My ankle can't be an issue, no excuses," said the 25-year-old England number one.

"This was a great match, a really good match. Borja has improved a lot, and I'm happy to have played such a match. He played really well."

In their first meeting since Gaultier played stunning squash to put out Matthew in December's World Open final in Bermuda, the 25-year-old from Aix-en-Provence was again in impressive form, beating the fourth seed from Sheffield 11-6, 11-9, 11-7.

"What made the difference today was that Greg was more mentally tuned in," said Matthew, who underwent shoulder surgery in January. "This was definitely my first big match of the year, and I felt really like a beginner player coming to his first semi-final!

"This was a great experience for me, it's all in the head, as we all know, and mentally today, I was up and down."

Gaultier, winner of the ATCO Super Series Finals title for the first time this year, is celebrating the 28th Tour final appearance of his career.

Semi-finals:
[1] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [4] Nick Matthew (ENG) 11-6, 11-9, 11-7 (55m)
[6] Borja Golan (ESP) bt [2] James Willstrop (ENG) 12-10, 6-11, 12-10, 5-11, 11-8 (71m)