11:46 pm
24 May 2024

Pilley Powers Through To Hong Kong Final

5 Dec 2015

A stunning night of semi-final action at the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open saw all four victors celebrate momentous milestones in their careers ahead of Sunday's finals.

Australian Cameron Pilley caused the day's biggest upset by defeating England's world No.3 Nick Matthew in just under an hour, thereby not only reaching his first ever PSA World Series final but also becoming the first unseeded player to make the final for nine years.

A phenomenal fight-back in the second game, when he surged from 10-5 down to force a tiebreak which he took 12-10 courtesy of some thunderous winners, epitomised a career-defining performance for the 33-year-old.

"I've played Nick so many times and I've only managed to beat him twice before - he's such a tough competitor," said Pilley.

"But I guess I just played that little bit better today. Looking back on the match that second game was a big moment. The difference between 1-1 and 2-0 is huge so it was maybe a turning point, but it was just a case of not giving up.

"You get times when you hit a purple patch and are in the zone and this week seems to be going that way for me.

"It's the biggest tournament of my career. I'm really enjoying being out there and playing the way I want to play. I've cleared my mind a bit over the last few weeks and it's really paid off but I'm trying not to get too excited.

"In a few weeks when I look back on it I'm sure it will be great achievement but at the moment I'm not getting ahead of myself - there's another match to go and my focus is on that."

Currently ranked outside the world top 20, Pilley now faces defending champion Mohamed Elshorbagy, the world No.2 from Egypt whose 3/0 win over compatriot Omar Mosaad will ensure that he regains his place at the top of the world rankings next month.

"I've been really happy with how I have played this whole week," said Elshorbagy who played with composure and precision to halt Mosaad's charge.

"Last year after losing the World Championship final I reacted badly but this year it has been very different - I was very quiet after that loss last week, which is unusual for me as I'm an emotional person, but I just kept my head down and focused on what I need to do here.

"I hadn't been enjoying my squash this season. I felt like I was being forced on court with the pressure but this week I feel like I want to be on court again and I'm enjoying every shot and that's the most important thing for me.

"I came here to do two jobs; reclaim the World No.1 spot and retain the title. One down and hopefully I will do the other tomorrow. I'm relaxed, I'm sleeping well and I can't wait to play one more major final and do what I can to end the year on a high."

In the women's draw in-form Laura Massaro extended her winning streak on the PSA World Tour to 14 matches after a stunning display saw her defeat world No.1 Raneem El Welily. The impressive victory sees the England star move into a third consecutive PSA World Series tournament final, where she'll be hoping to add to the US Open and Qatar Classic crowns she has already collected so far this season.

The victory, which Massaro wrapped up in comprehensive fashion after just 33 minutes, was even sweeter for the 32-year-old as it ensures she will now top the World Rankings for the first time in her career on January 1st.

"I'm really, really happy to be in another World Series final," said Massaro. "I've never made it to the final at this tournament so I'm excited for tomorrow.

"I felt like I was in a good place before the match today and I knew how important it was to get off to a strong start and that's exactly what I did. I was very pleased but I can't get too excited with the win because there's still another match to go and a job to do."

On hearing the news that she will become world No.1 in January Massaro added: "The world No.1 has been a huge mountain that I've been climbing and it's certainly come as a great early Christmas present.

"It means everything to me. I trained hard over the summer after taking a break and the focus was all about competing and challenging for major titles. It's gone better than I could have expected, winning three titles already, and I knew that if I could hit my goals of winning titles then the rankings would take care of itself."

Massaro will face defending champion Nicol David in the decider as the Malaysian went one step closer to winning an unprecedented 11th consecutive Hong Kong crown by ruthlessly despatching Egypt's Omneya Abdel Kawy in just 24 minutes - securing a place in what will be the 100th PSA World Tour final of her career in the process.

"It's a real feat for any player to beat someone like Omneya 3/0 so that is a great result for me," said David.

"I feel like I played well today and kept my focus right through to the end. I have a good record here but that's not in my mind. Hong Kong is like a second home to me but I'm just happy to be playing well and enjoying my squash.

"Laura and I always have big battles and good matches, the last few have been very close, so hopefully tomorrow will be another good match."