Nick Matthew triumphs in semifinal thriller to set up Manchester final with Mathieu Castagnet

In a repeat of the 2013 AJ Bell World Championship final in Manchester where Matthew edged to victory and captured his third World Championship crown in an epic 111 minute encounter, the Englishman once again proved the stronger of two when it mattered most.
 
In an incredibly close encounter Matthew took the lead 11/7 in the first game, Gaultier leveled the scored 12-10 in the second before Matthew pulled ahead again in the third 15-13.  However Gaultier was not beaten and once again fought back 11-9 in the fourth to set up the decider.  
 
With well over an hour already on the clock fitness proved to be the difference with Matthew pulling away, as he did in 2013, to seal victory 11/5 in the fifth.  
 
Following the match Gaultier explained that he was not in peak condition going into the match:
 
“I’m happy with the way I played.  Especially I had a lot of struggles physically last week, I had achilles problems.  I’m just happy that I managed to play, I felt really bad before coming here but I’m really glad I managed to play that way.  Physically I’m cooked!
 
"The year has been long and tough but all credit to Nick today to do well in front of his home crowd.  Good luck to him tomorrow, hopefully I’ll come back next year.”
 
The rivals had played an amazing 30 times before today’s match with Gaultier leading the head to head 17-13 so Matthew was happy to close the gap with victory today:  
 
“When you get to my age you have a few rivals, you’ve been playing people for a long time.  Greg and I have been playing each other a long time, the first time we played I was 17 and he was 14 or 15 and it never gets any easier.
 
"There is one more match before Christmas now so one big push.  I got a bit lucky, I played really well, felt strong at the end but I think he got a bit of cramp in his wrist which meant he couldn’t hit the ball hard at the end so I was lucky but just on those tie breaks he made a few errors on those crucial points.  
 
"I think it was a great spectacle, I hope everyone enjoyed it.  I always play so well in Manchester, the crowd really gets behind me. I think I was due a win like that, I've not had one like that against any of the top four this season so I’m really pleased with that.”
 
Matthew will now face another Frenchman in tomorrow’s final after Mathieu Castagnet overcame Colombia’s Miguel Angel Rodriguez 11/5 16/14 13/11 in the second semifinal of the day.  Castagnet had to focus in order to back up his victory over World No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy in the quarterfinal, but achieved his goal of reaching the final with another awesome display of squash.
 
“My coach told me yesterday to switch off my mobile phone last night and try to recover and think about the semifinal because it is a great job to beat Mohamed Elshorbagy but the most important thing for me was to reach the final.”
 
Castagnet is now feeling at home in Manchester after making friends in a local restaurant and plans a return as part of his preparation for tomorrow’s final:
 
“I need to sleep first and then go to Zizi restaurant in town! Before playing Elshorbagy I went there for lunch and was alone on my table and no-one was talking to me but yesterday after the match many people came to talk to me!”

[3] Nick Matthew (ENG) d. [1] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 11/7 10/12 15/13 9/11 11/5 (103m)
[8] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) d. [7] Miguel Angel Rodriquez (COL) 11/2 16/14 13/11 (74m)
The final begins at 7pm on Monday 8 December and will be broadcast live on ESPN
7pm [3] Nick Matthew (ENG) v [8] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 
 
The AJ Bell Squash Grand Prix takes place at the National Squash Centre, Manchester from 5 to 8 December.
 
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England’s Nick Matthew triumphed over Frenchman Gregory Gaultier in a five set thriller 11/7 10/12 15/13 9/11 11/5 to secure his spot in the AJ Bell British Squash Grand Prix final.  Matthew will now face another Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet in tomorrow’s final after Castagnet beat Colombia’s Miguel Angel Rodriguez 11/2 16/14 13/11