Cameron Pilley survived his second five-game marathon in succession to defeat Egyptian Omar Abdel Aziz and reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open in Canberra on Friday.
Barely 24 hours after being taken the distance by fellow Australian Zac Alexander, Pilley was pushed to the limit by the skilful Aziz before winning 11-9, 9-11, 11-7, 4-11, 11-6 to set up a dream semi-final against top seed and defending champion Ramy Ashour.
Pilley is one of the tallest players on the tour at 191cm and he used his incredible reach to great advantage in the first game.
But every time the Australian looked like running away with the match, Aziz fought back to keep the large crowd at Canberra’s Royal Theatre enthralled as the two players battled each other and, at times, the three referees.
It is Pilley’s first major semi-final since he reached the same stage of the Malaysian Open in March last year, and keeps alive his hopes of winning the Australian title after finishing runner-up in 2007 and 2009.
“I’ve played Omar a couple of times and I knew it was going to be tough,” he said. “I’ve got a few years experience on him and I think that got me through in the fifth. I’m very happy with my concentration in the fifth, like yesterday.
“The other four games were just nip and tuck the whole way so I made a conscious effort in the fifth to put my head down and really concentrate on the start of the game – I was going to die on there before I lost that.”
Mueller has given Ashour trouble in the past and he looked on course for an upset when he led two games to one. But the Egyptian claimed a tight fourth game then ran away with the fifth to win 10-12, 11-4, 9-11, 11-8, 11-1.
“That was very, very tiring physically and mentally,” Ashour said. “He is a good player and will make a breakthrough at a major tournament before too long. It’s too bad this was a quarter-final, this would have been a good final.”
The second semi-final will be between second seeded Egyptian Omar Mosaad and third ranked Englishman Tom Richards.
Mosaad hit a stunning array of winners on his way to downing sixth seeded Malaysian Ong Beng Hee. After saving a game point in the opening game, Mosaad got his nose in front and stayed there as he punished anything short from the Malaysian veteran, winning 13-11, 11-5, 12-10.
“I was lucky to win the first game,” he conceded. “I didn’t play my usual style because I wanted to finish it early. “After I won the first I began to feel more confident in the second, but then in the third I wanted to finish three-love because he was starting to play so well.
“I was lucky to win three-love.”
Clyne matched it with the third seed until midway through the first game when Richards pulled away and never looked back, showing he is a real contender to reach Sunday’s final.
“When you are playing someone like Alan who has the capability of making it last a long time and playing at a fast pace, you don’t want to be out there for 90 minutes,” a relieved Richards said.
 Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt  Nicolas Mueller (Sui) 10/12, 11/4, 9/11, 11/8, 11/1
 Cameron Pilley (Aus) bt Omar Abdel Aziz (Egy) 11/9, 9/11, 11/7, 4/11, 11/6
 Tom Richards (Eng) bt  Alan Clyne (Sco) 11/7, 11/6, 11/4
 Omar Mosaad bt  Ong Beng Hee (Mas) 13/11, 11/5, 12/10