World Teams – Semi-Finals

Two dramatic semi-finals in Mulhouse saw Egypt and England set up a repeat of the 2011 final …

Semi-Finals: Playing order 1,2,3 

[1] Egypt 2-1 [4] Australia
  Karim Darwish 1-3 Cameron Pilley 10/12, 16/14, 10/12, 9/11 (74m)
Omar Mosaad 3-1 David Palmer 11/13, 11/6, 11/9, 11/9 (80m)
Tarek Momen 3-2 Ryan Cuskelly 3/11, 11/6, 11/5, 7/11, 11/5 (67m)

[2] England 2-0 [3] France
  Nick Matthew 3-2 Grégory Gaultier 5/11, 11/9, 9/11, 11/5, 12/10 (138m)
James Willstrop 3-1 Thierry Lincou 11/2, 11/8, 7/11, 13/11 (55m)

Egypt squeeze into the final

SP_2611Well, what a semi-final. After five days of the seeds sailing through, we had a real match tonight as defending champions Egypt squeezed into the final by the sking of their teeth, pushed all the way by fourth seeds Australia.

Having played the two matches of his life in last month’s British Open, Cameron Pilley pulled out a third cracker as he beat Karim Darwish for the first time, getting the better of four very close games.

David Palmer threatened to roll back the years as he took the first game against Omar Mosaad, but in a pretty physical encounter Mosaad struck back to take the next three and keep Egypt in the hunt.

Australia needed another performance of a lifetime from Ryan Cuskelly, and he almost did it, taking Tarek Momen all the way to a decider. But the Egyptian powered through the fifth, a 10/2 lead was always going to be enough, and, now two hours behind schedule, Egypt were in the final.

 England deny French dream

SP_2628First up, in front of a passionate and very noise packed house at the Palais des Sports, was Nick Matthew v Gregory Gaultier.

Long story short, they traded the first four games in fornt of one of the noisiest and most passionate crowds ever seen, and we were into a decider with the clock advancing towards midnight.

Gaultier took a 4-1 lead, Matthew came back to lead 5-4, but the Frenchman edged ahead again, leading 8-6 and then 9-6.

Amid scenes of amazing drama, tension, and at times near farce – at 7-9 Gaultier collapsed on the floor writhing in agony and screaming in pain, only to jump up like a flash (dare we say ‘like a footballer’?) when the referee declared that he had no injury breaks remaining so declared “game and match”.

Matthew was almost as unhappy when he was awarded a no let after a dive and recovery, only to hear “the ball was bouncing twice”, which gave Gaultier three match balls.

He was clearly struggling though, and Matthew reeled off five dramatic points in a row and literally leapt for joy, then leapt again and again in front of the ecstatic England bench (with Gaultier, to his credit, applauding behind him).

“Je suis desolé” were the first words of his post-match interview, but it was the French, surely, who were truly desol-ated.

Nothing was likely to be able to match that for drama, and when James Willstrop eased through the first against French veteran Thierry Lincou and then doubled his lead with the Frenchman unable to make a real impression, it looked all over.

But Lincou fought back, took the third and led 7-3 in the fourth as the crowd began to sense that it might actually happen for them after all. Willstrop dug in though, got to 10-9 match ball but was denied by a stroke, earned another but tinned at the end of a tough rally, and on his third chance served into the nick to end the French dream.

By which time it was well past 1am …

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