Friday – Quarter-Finals at the O2
It ended up being a late night at the O2 Arena on British Open quarter-finals day, with drama at the beginning and at the end.
The afternoon session saw the first three matches all go the way of Egypt, with Ramy Ashour beating Amr Shabana in an eventful but quick five-setter, and Nour El Sherbini and Raneem El Weleily both springing upsets to guarantee and Egyptian women’s finalist.
James Willstrop and Nick Matthew both stayed on course for another British Open showdown, while Laura Massaro made it a hat-trick of English wins to set up a semi-final with Nicol David.
The last match of the day was the longest and the tensest, as Peter Barker came from 2/1 down to beat second seed Gregory Gaultier and ensure an English men’s finalist.
 Laura Massaro (Eng) bt  Camille Serme (Fra) 11/13, 11/3, 11/9, 11/9 (51m)
 Nour El Sherbini (Egy) bt  Annie Au (Hkg) 9/11, 11/7, 11/6, 9/11, 11/6 (56m)
 Raneem El Weleily (Egy) bt  Jenny Duncalf (Eng) 12/10, 11/7, 11/5 (27m)  James Willstrop (Eng) bt  Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) 11/4, 11/7, 11/9 (45m)
 Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt  Amr Shabana (Egy) 11/8, 12/10, 5/11, 1/11, 11/4 (45m)
 Nick Matthew (Eng) bt  Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned) 4/11, 11/6, 11/5, 11/5 (60m)
 Peter Barker (Eng) bt  Gregory Gaultier (Fra) 11/8, 2/11, 7/11, 11/9, 11/6 (89m)
Ramy Ashour won the all-Egyptian first men’s match of the day, and what a weird match it was. The rallies were, if anything, shorter than in the ladies’ match that preceded it, and the swings in fortune even more extreme. First one then the other would score runs of quick points, and once Ashour’s last run had taken him to 10-4 in the fifth Shabana broke his racket across his own leg and returned the final serve into the tin with it.
“It’s always like that when we play,” explained Ashour.
Top seed James Willstrop remained on course for another British Open final as he overcame Mohamed El Shorbagy in straight games to put an end to the run of Egyptian winners on quarter-finals day at the O2. It was never easy but the world number one always just had the edge over his young opponent.
“He came out like a steam train in the first game and was just too good,” said Nick Matthew after his 4/11, 11/6, 11/5, 11/5 win over Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema. “I just had to not panic, weather the storm and keep the balance between matching his aggression while staying composed.”
The defending champion did that to perfection, and he “got on top towards the end of the third and fourth games,” with to move into the semi-finals.
Peter Barker finished off the day with an upset win over second seed Gregory Gaultier, coming from 2/1 down in a tense, often contentious match to make it three Englishmen in the semi-finals.
“I pulled out everything I had today,” he said, “and fortunately it was just about enough. He was dominating me in the third, I tried to shorten the rallies and a bit
Sherbini and El Weleily upsets guarantee Egyptian finalist
Sixteen year old Egyptian Nour El Sherbini continued her winning run with a five game upset victory over Annie Au to reach the semi-finals. It was a game of short rallies, lots of winners and swings of fortune but it was the reigning British Junior Open champion who prevailed, to the delight of her entourage.
“My game is all about dropping from everywhere,” she said, “but Annie does that too so she was trying to slow it down every rally while I was trying to speed it up! I lost to her last time we played, I’m so happy to beat her this time and be in the semis of a great tournament like the British Open”
Once Raneem El Weleily had taken four point in a row to win a tight first game 12/10, she romped ahead in the next two games with second seed Jenny Duncalf unable to cope with the barrage of winners coming her way, although the Englishwoman helped her opponent along the way with some crucial unforced errors when seemingly in control of rallies.
“I probably went for too many winners,” said a delighted winner, “and I was lucky that she made a few errors too. I’m so proud of Nour El Sherbini and so pleased to be playing her in the semi-final!”
Having had three game balls to take the first only to lose it 11/13,, Laura Massaro came back out firing to take the second game of her match with Camille Serme 11/3, and then got the better of two tight games winning them both 11/9 to move into the semi-finals.
“That was hard work,” she admitted, “I felt I was unlucky to lose the first, so I had to keep pumping myself up for the rest of the match, it’s easy to get flat and you just can’t afford o do that on this court.”
David draws the Kiwi sting
Just as LJ Anjema had in the previous match, Joelle King came out of the blocks with a vengeance to take the first game off the world champion. But, just as Nick Matthew had, Nicol David too weathered the storm, and without any panic or undue fuss, slowly but surely drew the sting from her opponent, and in David’s case so clinical was the process that come the fourth game it looked as though King could play all night without getting another point, ad David ran out the 8/11, 11/3, 11/4, 11/0 winner.
“I was expecting her to come out with a good start,” said David, “she was bound to be fired up after her win over Rachael yesterday.
“I was struggling to get my shots together at the start, but as the match went on I found my rhythm and the shots came with that. She was probably feeling the effects of that five-setter too, so I was able to take advantage of that.
“It’s sure to be a pretty exciting match against Laura in the semis tomorrow, the crowd will be on her side but hopefully I’ll have some support too!”