ROWE British Grand Prix – Manchester 2010 - Semi-Finals:

England's James Willstrop reached the final of the biggest squash event in Europe this year after surviving an incident-packed semi-final in the ROWE British Grand Prix in Manchester and will now meet Egypt's World No.1 Ramy Ashour for the $92,500 PSA Super Series event title at the National Squash Centre.
 
The Englishman's clash with Gregory Gaultier was his latest encounter with the life-long French rival whom he first competed against as a fellow 14-year-old. Leading by two games, the now 27-year-old World No.6 suffered a dead leg after an accidental collision with the Frenchman, ranked one place higher.
 
After a seven-minute injury break, Willstrop returned to the court and recovered from 1-5 down to lead 9-7 - two points away from a straight games victory.
 
But the determined Gaultier fought back to take the game - and then won the fourth to force a decider.
 
The World No.5 twice led - and also had injury break for four minutes after treatment for an ankle injury. But Willstrop held his nerve to clinch a remarkable 11-7, 11-9, 9-11, 5-11, 11-9 win after 101 minutes.
 
"When both of us are playing at the highest of intensities - which both of us were today - you can't keep it going for five games," explained Willstrop afterwards. "When we were good, we were very good.
 
"I'm just glad to have come back in the fifth.
 
"That third was a most bizarre game. The injury break didn't help me - but I remember thinking at 8-5, 'I can't settle down'," said the England No.2.
 
"It's brilliant to be in another Super Series final," added Willstrop, now in the 22nd World Tour final of his career. "I love playing here - the crowd was incredible."
 
A dejected Gaultier admitted that he hadn't stuck to his game-plan: "I didn't follow the tactic I wanted at the beginning. I was a bit disappointed to lose the second game.
 
"In the third, I think he was a bit tired and I tried to make the rallies longer. The fifth was anybody's game.
 
"I am really disappointed to lose - but I will come back stronger next time," added the former world number one from Aix-en-Provence.
 
Ramy Ashour, who despatched his three earlier opponents 3/0 in little more than an hour of playing time, dropped the first game against veteran Australian David Palmer, the 34-year-old from New South Wales who is the event's No.8 seed.
 
Palmer, who celebrated ten unbroken years in the world's top ten a month ago, was playing the game of his life - while 22-year-old Ashour was scurrying around the court to keep up with the former world No1 and two-time world champion.
 
Second seed Ashour reclaimed the upper hand in the second game, but the US-based Aussie battled back to earn four game balls in the third before his younger opponent forged a 2/1 lead.
 
Palmer twice led in the fourth, but again Ashour recovered before closing out the match 5-11, 11-6, 13-11, 11-9 in 57 minutes.
 
"I couldn't believe it - he was incredible today," Ashour acknowledged to the crowd afterwards. "Sometimes, there was nothing I could do against him."
 
On the prospect of the final, Ashour said: "James is a great player - very skilful on court. I'm sure it will be a great game."
 
Despite losing, Palmer took positives from his performance: "It's given me encouragement," said the four-time British Open champion. "I haven't been able to play a match like that for the last four or five months.
 
"The Commonwealth Games is very important to me - and it looks as if I'm back in form. It's better late than never!
 
"So I can go back home and be happy now.
 
"But it's going to be very tough in Delhi - James looks like he's in great form," concluded Palmer.
 
For further information visit the ROWE British Grand Prix – Manchester 2010 official website www.britishsquashgrandprix.com or email info@isportgroup.com
 
Tickets for the ROWE British Grand Prix – Manchester 2010 can now be booked online at www.isportgroup.com/ticketing or by telephone on 0844 870 0000.
 
Watch all the live action and highlights at www.psasquashtv.com
 
Follow PSA's Squash TV on Facebook at www.facebook.com/squashtv and the latest PSA Tour news on www.twitter.com/psaworldtour
 
Issued by media@isportgroup.com on behalf of the ROWE British Grand Prix – Manchester 2010

National Squash Centre, Sportcity, Manchester, England
Semi-Finals:
[5] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [4] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 11-7, 11-9, 9-11, 5-11, 11-9 (101m)
[2] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [8] David Palmer (AUS) 5-11, 11-6, 13-11, 11-9 (57m)