Squash champ Nick seals semi-final spot

WORLD number one Nick Matthew secured his semi-final berth in the PSA World Series Finals by claiming a hard fought victory over Peter Barker last night.

Matthew, the double gold Commonwealth medallist, defeated his close friend 12-14, 11-3, 11-7 in a gruelling 51 minute encounter at the Queen's Club.

It means Matthew finished second in Pool B behind four-time world champion Amr Shabana, who defeated the Sheffield right-hander on Wednesday.

Playing the best-of-three format that this event stipulates, Shabana edged the 30 year-old 5-11, 11-7, 17-15 in a match lasting just shy of the hour mark.

Shabana said: "Nick has raised the bar for all of us. It is a fine line and I had to perform my best - but at least it means I am right on track to have what it takes to finally win here (in the UK]."

The match was billed as the first to go the distance after straight-games wins for Shabana and Matthew over Barker and Wael El Hindi respectively and they duly lived up to the hype. Level at seven career wins apiece stretching back to 2001 - Shabana won the majority of his matches during his domineering years five years ago - a methodical Matthew took early bragging rights with a comfortable opener.

Back came Shabana. Having lost out to Matthew on his way to becoming the first Englishman to win the world title in December, the 31 year-old Cairo right-hander took the second after uncharacteristic errors from the Englishman.

It paved the way for an unforgettable decider. At 7-5 down, Shabana advanced to hold two match balls at 10-8. The pair then traded match balls involving a number of key lets before Shabana's denouement.

Matthew, who missed the tournament in 2010 following shoulder surgery, will play his last four match tonight.

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