James Willstrop beats Mohamed Elshorbagy in Hong Kong epic

James Willstrop and Mohamed Elshorbagy

Britain's James Willstrop recorded one of the most impressive wins of his career when he beat Egypt's Mohamed Elshorbagy in a 122-minute five-game thriller in the Hong Kong Open.

Third seed Willstrop, 30, entered the quarter-final with a 9-3 head-to-head record over his 22-year-old opponent.

But it was Elshorbagy who started the brighter, edging the first two games.

Willstrop then fought back, clinching victory on his eighth match-ball after a marathon 39-minute decider.

The match was Willstrop's second longest in his 14-year career, five minutes short of a 127-minute semi-final epic against compatriot Nick Matthew in the 2010 Canary Wharf Classic.

"It was a really close match - we were very tightly matched," said former world number one Willstrop.

"It was so close all the way - no player had any dominance at any stage, which is very unusual as you usually get a phase where one player gets a lead but there was hardly any of that.

"I think we were both at the top of our games, both playing some quite brilliant - and tough - squash.

"I'm happy to have won the match - there are a lot of positive thoughts."

Willstrop will play surprise opponent Borja Golan after the Spaniard beat top seed and defending champion Ramy Ashour, who appeared to be struggling with a recurrence of the hamstring injury which ended his world title bid in November.

Ashour called it quits at 7-0 down in the final game, and Golan admitted: "When you respect a player like we all respect Ramy it is tough. He is such a talented player and that is the last way that I want to win a match.

"I hope he is soon on the court - but for a long time, not just a few tournaments."

The other semi-final sees fourth seed Matthew take on second seed Gregory Gaultier in a repeat of last month's World Championship final.

There was a shock in the women's event when world number two Laura Massaro of England lost 11-6 11-5 9-11 11-9 to Hong Kong's Annie Au.

Top seed and eight-time defending champion Nicol David beat Jenny Duncalf (Eng) 11-4 11-3 11-3, and goes on to face another English player, Alison Waters, in the last four.

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