The first semi-final of the 25th MWTC will be a squash classic between title holders England and Australia. Action will be starting at 2:30 pm at Salle Vallier.
 ENGLAND 2-0  AUSTRALIA (2:30PM, SALLE VALLIER)
The first semi-final opposing Australia and England is a classic in the realm of squash. They had met several times before, England having a slight advantage over the Aussies just ahead by 6-5. Australia, eight-time world champions, had had a flawless run to the semis, eliminating New Zealand in the quarters in a long, exhausting battle. However, in their last confrontation, England, the reigning world champions, had come out on top and were hoping to for a place in the final to defend their title. All 3 players in the English squad were part of the winning team in 2013 in Mulhouse. It was thus going to be a match between a highly-experienced English side and a much younger, vivacious Australian team.
Comments from Paul Price, the Australian coach before the match :
« After last night’s big battle, it is a bit hard to for recover. This is the first match where we are the lower seeded team and the pressure is off the boys now. They can be relaxed, stay focused and get the job done. They are pretty clear now on what they have to do. There’ll be no surprises out there. It’ll be a good, old-fashioned battle. It’s the first time that we’ve played at this venue and the boys are really looking forward to it. »
#3: Daryl Selby 3-1 Zac Alexander: (10-12, 11-7, 11-5, 11-7) - 62 min
The number 3s set the ball rolling. After a period of ebbing and flowing, Alexander pulled away and took a 7-4 lead. The experienced Selby, who did not seem fully into the match, made a couple of unusual errors which comforted the Australian’s position but the English man climbed backed to 9-9, only to lose the game after a tie-break 12-10. Selby settled down and got off to a good start in the second but Alexander kept in there and crawled back to 6-6. The end of the game could have gone either way but eventually Selby took advantage after a couple of unnecessary errors from the Australian. Back on court, Alexander took an early lead 4-0 but came level at 5-5. In the middle of the game, Alexander seemed to lose concentration and a no-messing Selby didn’t let the opportunity go by and stormed on 11-5. The rallies were much closer in the fourth but Selby produced some great shots to give his team a 1-0 lead.
#1: Nick Matthew 3-0 Ryan Cuskelly: (11-8, 11-6, 11-4) - 48 min
Next on court were Nick Matthew and Ryan Cuskelly. They had met 4 times before and Matthew had won all of them, their last encounter being in March this year. There were some great rallies in the first game and at 8-8, it could have been anybody’s day but Matthew didn’t concede another point and came through 11-8. Although Matthew was ahead in the second game, Cuskelly was never far behind. Much to the crowd’s amazement, Matthew was awarded a few stroke points which eventually allowed him to take the game 11-6. A very determined Matthew stormed through the third 11-4 ensuring a place for England in the final.
#2: James Willstrop vs Cameron Pilley 12-10, 11-6
Both teams decided to play the last match much to the delight of the enthusiastic crowd. James Willstrop and Cameron Pilley are no strangers to each other. They have met numerous times on the PSA circuit, Pilley only having won once. A third win for England 12-10, 11-6.
INTERVIEW WITH DARYL SELBY AFTER HIS WIN :
That was a hard match. You both played well but you looked a bit under pressure in the first game.
No, not really, it’s another day and another opponent. I haven’t played Zac before in PSA so when it’s a new player, you have to see how he plays. I must admit, I didn’t hit the ball quite as well as yesterday. I played well yesterday. Zac put me under pressure. He hits good lines and length.
Yes, he played some great shots.
Exactly, every time he was under pressure, he hit nice and tight and he didn’t really give me a chance to get in front of him and dictate the play. In the first game, I was just trying to find my way in. I had one game ball which I didn’t manage to take so winning the first game is a big thing and I didn’t manage to do it but he played some good rallies at the end. Once I settled in to it, the second, third and fourth got progressively much better. I got a bad start at the beginning of the third. I was losing 4-0. He slowed down and played at a pace he was quite comfortable at but once I picked the pace up and stretched him a bit more, I went through the rest of the game quite easily. Although he kept in there and played some good squash. He’s an Aussie after all !
You did some great shots in the last game.
Yes, I was happy with the way I finished. I had a couple of loose balls where he was punished. Earlier in the match, I was much more tentative and that let him pick the balls up whereas after I played more positive shots.
What do you think about the crowd ?
They are great and passionate and we really like the way they voice their opinion. They are a noisy French crowd and that’s exactly what we want. We need more passion in the game and they bring a lot of that to the court. I enjoyed it and it’s really great to get a win for the team.
How important was it for England for you to win that first match ?
Yeah, you set the tone and the Aussies had a tough one last night so I was aware that if I could get us off to a good start then we have a lot of experience behind with Nick and James. In this three-man format, it’s so crucial. Each tie is important. It makes the job for the next person on much easier whereas it’s a different mentality if you know you have to go on one down. It’s a whole different ball game then.
Photo Gallery (semi-final day) (Nathalie Goossens / Philippe Rochais)