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Marwan ElShorbagy during his first round clash with Nafiizwan Adnan

Bellevue Classic Quarter-Finals - As it Happens

Follow us here for reports and reaction from the quarter-finals of the 2017 Pacific Market International Bellevue Squash Classic held at Bellevue's Boys and Girls Club Hidden Valley Field House.

The 'French General' Gregory Gaultier till be targeting a 25th consecutive Tour victory when he takes on World No.10 Tarek Momen, while three-time World Champion Ramy Ashour and Marwan ElShorbagy go head-to-head in a tantalising all-Egyptian encounter.

Former World No.1 James Willstrop will also look to keep his title aspirations alive with a win over Spain's Borja Golan, with World No.8 Ali Farag in action against Australia's Ryan Cuskelly.

You can watch the action LIVE on SQUASHTV and Eurosport Player.

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Here's the Order of Play for SQUASHTV & Eurosport Player
(All times are local PDT)
17:00 [1] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v [6] Tarek Momen (EGY)
18:00 Borja Golan (ESP) v [4] James Willstrop (ENG)
19:00 [3] Ali Farag (EGY) v [8] Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
20:00 [5] Ramy Ashour (EGY) v [2] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)

25 Up for Gaultier As the General Beats Momen

Gregory Gaultier takes on Tarek Momen

World No.2 Gregory Gaultier’s incredible form continued as the ‘French General’ marched to a 25th successive victory on the PSA World Tour courtesy of a 3-0 win over Tarek Momen in the last eight of the Pacific Market International Bellevue Squash Classic.

Gaultier has been simply irresistible in 2017, losing just once and capturing five Tour titles in a row, and he came into the match boasting a 12-match win streak over Egypt’s Momen.

Momen made life difficult for Gaultier in an opening game which saw some blistering squash delight the crowd at the Boys and Girls Club Hidden Valley Field House, but Gaultier’s relentless pressure eventually paid off as he took a one-game lead for the loss of eight points.

The 34-year-old Frenchman looked infallible in the second game as he built on a 5-0 lead to take it 11-4 and he repelled a dogged Momen’s attempts to get back into the fixture in the third to reach a ninth PSA World Tour semi-final in a row.

“I always try to find an extra motivation because it's the end of the season and I agreed to play this tournament, so I know I'm going beyond my limits,” said Gaultier.

“But every day I have to keep pushing until the end, the end of the season is really close, so I want to finish on a positive note and carry on playing as hard as I can. Me and Tarek have had a lot of games and it's always tough to play him because he's always unpredictable with his boasts, but sometimes he gives you cheap points which I'm happy with.

“From the first point I could see he was up for it. We started with a huge rally and I wanted to show from the start that I was going to be ready for a big match. We had some brutal rallies, in all four corners, at quite a reasonable speed. I managed to keep my composure and stay relaxed.

“I knew that if I gave him some openings that he would put it away, so I had to be really sharp to the front corners and defend with intelligence.”

[1] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [6] Tarek Momen (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-4, 11-7 (47m)

Willstrop Wins Thriller Against Golan

James Willstrop (left) v Borja Golan (right)

England’s James Willstrop came back from three match balls down to overcome Spain’s Borja Golan in a thrilling 87-minute encounter – setting up a mouthwatering semi-final clash with the in-form Gregory Gaultier.

Willstrop squandered a two-game lead to let Golan back into the match and the World No.15 looked to be odds on to take the win after holding three match balls in a nail-biting decider.

Former World No.1 Willstrop dug in deep though to force a tie-break and held his nerve to close out a dramatic match by an 11-6, 11-7, 2-11, 6-11, 12-10 margin.

“I was so out-played in the fourth and the fifth so I was just happy to be in the fifth,” said Willstrop.

“I was miles off, he was so good and in the first two games I played the best I have for a long time He was so tight and all credit to him, he really put me under pressure and I didn't know what to do at one point.

“It wasn't looking like I was going to win the match at 9-5 down. The points were going against me in such a way that I can't even remember when it's happened like that before.

“Maybe the pressure came off a little bit then because he was attacking so well and he wanted to close the game out. I was pleased to just be competing and I just dug in. It was a weird match, totally weird. I'll take it though, I'm really happy and it's great to be playing in the semis now. It's fantastic.

“Greg is flying, he's playing so well at the minute and he's in great form, it's great to see. He's a true entertainer.”

Willstrop, 33, had won nine of their 12 encounters on the PSA World Tour and came out firing on all cylinders as he played aggressively and pulled out a number of winners from his extensive repertoire.

Willstrop looked to be on the verge of closing out the win in straight games against an increasingly frustrated Golan, but the Spaniard – a former World No.5 – rattled off a series of winners to halt Willstrop’s rhythm and halve the deficit for the loss of just two points.

Golan continued to play at a furious pace to take the fourth game and, despite receiving a conduct warning for frequent discussions with the referee, looked to be on course to complete a stunning comeback after pushing ahead to three match balls in the fifth.

But Willstrop was not to be denied and he will look to claim a second successive win over Gaultier in tomorrow’s last four clash after he beat the Frenchman in December’s AJ Bell British Squash Grand Prix.

[4] James Willstrop (ENG) bt Borja Golan (ESP) 3-2: 11-6, 11-7, 2-11, 6-11, 12-10 (87m)

Farag Ends Cuskelly’s Charge to Reach Semis

Ali Farag

Egyptian World No.8 Ali Farag took a step closer to a second successive PSA World Tour final after he came out on top against Australian No.1 Ryan Cuskelly by a 3-0 margin of victory.

The pair were tied at two wins apiece on their head-to-head record, with Cuskelly claiming a memorable win over his opponent in the final of January’s Motor City Open to lift his biggest ever Tour title.

But it was Farag who found his range first this time around, with the 25-year-old hitting his lines well to go 6-2 up, before he fended off an attempted fightback from Cuskelly to go a game up.

There were some long, testing rallies in a closely-contested 48-minute match, but Farag had an answer to everything Cuskelly threw at him and the Harvard-graduate held firm to seal an 11-9, 11-5, 11-7 victory to set up a semi-final clash with either Ramy Ashour or Marwan ElShorbagy

“I made a point to start well, otherwise I would never have got into the match really, so I’m happy I won the first one, it gave me a good confidence boost,” Farag said.

“Then in the second there were some brutal rallies. After that I managed to stay focused and run away with a few points and that gave me a good lead to stick to. In the third, he was very smart, he slowed down the pace a little. I managed to stay in front of him and thankfully I won in three.

“Every time I come to a tournament I try to win it, I don’t think of the final. That’s my goal, but I think of every match on it’s own, every match is tough from the very beginning, the Tour is very deep.

“Any player can beat any player at the moment, so I like to take it point by point and game by game. Whoever wins [out of Ashour and ElShorbagy] will be a very tough opponent and I’ll just give it my best.”

[3] Ali Farag (EGY) bt [8] Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 3-0: 11-9, 11-5, 11-7 (48m)

ElShorbagy Claims Big Win Over Ashour

Marwan ElShorbagy

World No.5 Marwan ElShorbagy claimed a huge victory over three-time World Champion Ramy Ashour to move to within one win of claiming a final berth.

ElShorbagy had beaten Ashour during the 2016 El Gouna International, but Ashour was unable to see the match out on that occasion, retiring mid-way through through the second game.

The enigmatic 29-year-old was far from his brilliant best today, and ElShorbagy ruthlessly dispatched any loose shots from Ashour to go a game up, before Ashour thought he had levelled the scores in game two after ElShorbagy’s boast had been called down by the referee.

The ball was eventually called good though after a video review and ElShorbagy made the most of the lifeline to rattle off a succession of points to double his advantage,

An improved showing from Ashour saw him claim the third for the loss of five points, while both players were locked in heated discussions about each other’s movement.

But ElShorbagy boasted well and got back on top in the fourth to close out his second win over Ashour, setting up an all-Egyptian semi-final fixture with Ali Farag.

“I’m really happy with the win today, Ramy is a great player,” said ElShorbagy.

“The only time I beat him, he couldn’t finish the match because he got injured. I’m really happy to win the match, but it was really hard for me today. I watched Ramy so many times when I was growing up so to get that first win against him means a lot to me.

“I’ve been working really hard, I’ve got to number five in the world and a lot of things happen off the court. To be able to play my 14th tournament of the season and to stay on my feet and be healthy means a lot to me.

“I feel blessed to be here, so there’s no pressure and I’m just enjoying it. I’ve got another tough match tomorrow against Ali. I was nervous today, it’s quite hard to play Ramy because you don’t know what to expect most times.

“I felt like I had no game plan and I was a bit annoyed with that, but it did work. Sometimes you have to keep digging in and that’s what I did.”

[2] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [5] Ramy Ashour (EGY) 3-1: 11-8, 12-10, 5-11, 11-6 (39m)

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