Willstrop and Darwish set up another final

28th November 2011

Kuwait PSA Cup Semi-Finals:

[3] James Willstrop (Eng) bt [5] Gregory Gaultier (Fra)    11/9, 11/6, 11/3 (58m)
[2] Karim Darwish (Egy) bt [7] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy)   11/4, 11/9, 5/11, 15/13 (74m)

James Willstrop didn't  exactly waltz into a second successive World Series final, not until the very end, but he turned in a repeat performance of his semi-final with Gregory Gaultier in Hong Kong last week, tonight as then getting the better of two tough games before easing through the third.

The first game was tough, and ultimately crucial, as they went point for point for 19 minutes, the Englishman finally taking the lead.

The second was almost as long at 18 minutes, with Willstrop taking an early 6/1 lead, Gaultier working his way back to 6/4 and 8/6, but then it went Willstrop's way at the end.

The third was just 8 minutes long, Willstrop working hard to take the lead, Gaultier letting the final few points go as he sensed a lost cause.

"I was very confident on court today, I’m hitting the ball well, it’s all about keeping that streak going, and that’s not always that easy," said Willstrop. "Today, I think I managed to frustrate Greg and prevent him from playing his game, I played some accurate squash, and it was a very pleasing performance."

Karim Darwish had never dropped a game against his young - 10 years younger - compatriot Mohamed El Shorbagy, and for a game and a half in the second semi-final there looked little prospect of him dropping a first one tonight, such was his dominance of the early stages.

A 4/1 lead in the first game stretched to 7/2, then 11/4, and at 4/1 in the second the youngster was being outplayed. But slowly he started to get into the match, pulling back to take the lead at 5/4 and 8/7, but at 9-all two rash errors cost him the chance of levelling, much to Darwish's relief.

The second seed led the third too, 5/4, but seven quick points in a row saw Shorbagy finally take that game, at the 12th attempt.

The fourth was massive, 29 minutes with both giving their all. 4/2 Shorbagy, 6/5 and 8/6 Darwish. Shorbagy got a game ball at 10/9, Darwish match balls at 11/10 and 12/11. Shorbagy earned one more chance at 13/12, but Darwish saved that too, and at 14/13 a stroke was probably the only way either of them was going to give way.

"He didn’t want to give up!!!! Those youngsters, can’t get rid of them!!," said a relieved Darwish. "I’m so happy to get into the final again. James is a in a great form, but I’m happy with my performance in this tournament too. It will be a good match."