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James Willstrop (right) takes on Borja Golan (left) in the Bellevue Classic semi-finals

Bellevue Classic Semi-Finals - As it Happens

Follow us here for reports and reaction from semi-finals day as the top four seeds go head-to-head at the 2017 Pacific Market International Bellevue Squash Classic held at Bellevue's Boys and Girls Club Hidden Valley Field House.

World No.2 Gregory Gaultier, fresh from making it 25 wins in a row on the PSA World Tour, will line up against former World No.1 James Willstrop in the first semi-final, with Willstrop looking to back up two successive 3-2 victories.

The other semi-final will pit World No.5 Marwan ElShorbagy – who dispatched Ramy Ashour in the previous round – up against number three seed Ali Farag.

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

Not able to watch? Check out our live scoring page

Here's the Order of Play for SQUASHTV & Eurosport Player
(All times are local PDT)
18:00 [1] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v [4] James Willstrop (ENG)
19:00 [3] Ali Farag (EGY) v [2] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)

Gaultier Reaches Final After Downing Willstrop

Gregory Gaultier (left) v James Willstrop (right)

Frenchman Gregory Gaultier moved one step closer to regaining the World No.1 spot he lost to Egypt’s Karim Abdel Gawad earlier this month after the 34-year-old defeated former World No.1 James Willstrop 3-0 in their semi-final fixture at the Pacific Market International Bellevue Squash Classic.

Gaultier, the World No.2, had defeated Willstrop in the same stage when they last met in Bellevue at the 2015 PSA Men’s World Championship, but Willstrop gained a measure of revenge for that loss after he recovered from two games down to send Gaultier out of December’s AJ Bell British Grand Prix.

The ‘French General’ has been in scintillating form in 2017, going 25 matches unbeaten leading into the match, and he stormed out of the traps to go 8-1 up in the opening game, with his unerring accuracy and incredible movement causing England’s Willstrop all sorts of problems.

After closing the first game out for the loss of four points, Gaultier was matched point for point by his opponent in the early stages of the second to leave the scores poised at 4-4.

However Gaultier’s metronomic striking soon took hold again as he claimed seven of the final eight points to double his advantage.

The third game began on an even keel with both players moving each other around the court in a dynamic contest, but Gaultier again took charge at the midway point as he surged to an 11-4, 11-5 11-8 victory in 42 minutes to reach a seventh successive PSA World Tour final.

Gaultier will take on either World No.5 Marwan ElShorbagy or World No.8 Ali Farag in the title decider – where a win will see him overtake Gawad at the summit of the World Rankings.

“I'm happy with my performances [throughout the tournament],” said Gaultier.

“He is one of the top players and he's fabulous to watch, his hands are like magic and he's so accurate. He's very dangerous, when he puts the ball that close to the tin it's so hard to reach the ball.

“You have to play at quite a fast pace to disrupt his game. You can't give him time because otherwise he is the best.

“It’s a big mental exercise for me to push through with almost no recovery between tournaments because we have such a short time to go home, we only have a couple of days before we go again.

“You get your head into competition mode again and it's really tough, but that's what I train for and I spend all my time making sacrifices to play at that level.”

Willstrop said: “He was too good tonight really. Maybe I could have got it away against another player, who knows, we were close at some points in the match, but he is forcing me to stretch just a little bit more than anybody else, and after 200 shots it starts to be very difficult.

“I was very pleased to reach the semis, I could have gone home on Wednesday. So there is a lot of positives to take away from it, and I gave it everything I had.”

[1] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [4] James Willstrop (ENG) 3-0: 11-4, 11-5, 11-8 (42m)

Farag Beats ElShorbagy to Reach Second Successive Final

Ali Farag (left) v Marwan ElShorbagy (right)

Egyptian World No.8 Ali Farag will face France’s Gregory Gaultier in the final of a PSA World Tour event for the second time in a row after the 25-year-old beat compatriot Marwan ElShorbagy 3-1 in their semi-final clash.

ElShorbagy came into the match off the back of a big win over three-time World Champion Ramy Ashour in the previous round and had beaten Farag in their last meeting in the semi-final of February’s Windy City Open.

But Farag looked in a determined mood from the off as the Harvard-graduate hit consistent lines and elongated the rallies to prevent ElShorbagy from building up a head of steam.

It was Farag – three years ElShorbagy’s senior – who took the first two games 11-7, 11-4, but ElShorbagy went through the gears to halve the deficit after triumphing in game three.

The win was to be Farag’s though as the man from Cairo pulled away from 4-4 in the third, dropping just one point along the way to wrap up a win which will see him take on Gaultier in a repeat of the Grasshopper Cup final less than fortnight ago.

“Marwan had a great win yesterday against probably one of the best players in the history of squash,” said Farag.

“I know how much that takes out of you mentally and physically. Its very draining and you could tell today that he was a bit flat.

“I’m not taking anything away from myself, I’m very happy with the way I played, but I just have to give him credit for such a good tournament and such a good season. He’s such an unbelievable player.

“I’m very happy to reach a second final back-to-back, it’s one thing to be able to beat the top players, but to do it consistently is another and I’m very happy to be there.

“Hopefully I can go a step further this time.”

[3] Ali Farag (EGY) bt [2] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-1: 11-7, 11-4, 7-11, 11-5 (38m)

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