It will be the top two seeds that contest the final of the NetSuite Open Squash Championship in California after world number one Ramy Ashour and second-ranked Gregory Gaultier prevailed in contrasting semifinals of the PSA World Tour International 70 event staged on an all-glass court erected on the South Lawn at Justin Herman Plaza on the San Francisco waterfront.
Second-seeded Frenchman Gaultier despatched England’s world No. 12 Daryl Selby (both pictured above) in straight games in just 25 minutes by driving the ball to perfect length and capitalizing on every loose ball.
After the 11-4, 11-1, 11-3 victory, which takes Gaultier into his third successive PSA Tour final, and the 53rd of his career, the 30-year-old from Aix-en-Provence said: “Yes, I like the conditions—not too hot and not too cold. And the audience is good to play for.”
Selby, the unseeded 30-year-old who upset fourth-seeded compatriot Peter Barker to reach the semis, told his Twitter followers later: “Tough evening. Greg played exceptionally well. If you are not 100% against him you have no chance. Should be a great final tomorrow.”
In the second and most eagerly-awaited match of the tournament, England’s world No. 3 James Willstrop gave world-beater Ashour an inspiring battle. The Egyptian celebrated his 26th birthday in command with brilliant drops and counter shots in game one and most of the way through game two.
But Willstrop battled back from 4-8 down to 9-all in the second, before Ashour finished it out 11-9. A surprise ‘no let’ gave Willstrop the first point of game three and several quick, well-played winners moved the Englishman to 4-0, seemingly while Ashour was still talking to himself about the first point decision.
Despite a bit of a rally by Ashour in the middle stretch, 30-year-old Willstrop dominated to close 11-2.
The sold-out crowd cheered both players on their return to the court. The international stars kept tight to each other with even more incredible rallies until 4-3 for Ashour. Then the Egyptian star broke to a 10-4 lead and finally finished with a whoop and a relieved fist pump, 11-7.
As host and promoter John Nimick said on court after the match: “These are two of the finest athletes you will ever watch and two of the best sportsmen you will ever meet. San Francisco has truly enjoyed the best of squash.”
Ashour’s 11-5, 11-9, 2-11, 11-7 win in 52 minutes extends his unbeaten Tour tally to 44 matches—and takes the Cairo star into his 12th successive PSA final since December 2011!
Ashour celebrated both his advance to the 2013 NetSuite Open final on the night and his 26th birthday. He was serenaded after the match with “Happy Birthday” by the sold out crowd.
NetSuite Open image courtesy of Andreas Hofweber
Event website: www.netsuiteopensquash.com
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt  James Willstrop (ENG) 11-5, 11-9, 2-11, 11-7 (52m)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Daryl Selby (ENG) 11-4, 11-1, 11-3 (25m)
Article courtesy of the Professional Squash Association