In a tournament where Egyptians have been the centre of attention for their flair and flamboyance, a 29-year-old Englishman has been quietly decimating opponents.
On Wednesday, Nick Matthew came up with another clinical performance to thrash compatriot Peter Barker in straight games to storm into the final of the $152,000 Punj Lloyd PSA Masters here.
Matthew defeated Barker 13-11, 11-6, 11-5 to set up a final against former world champion Ramy Ashour. The 22-year-old upset second seed and defending champion Amr Shabana in an all-Egyptian final 11-9, 13-15, 11-8, 11-2. Matthew went into the semifinal against Barker with a 5-0 head to head record. He kept the ball in play until settling down in a rhythm and dominated afterward.
The 29-year-old, who defeated James Willstrop for his second British Open crown earlier this year, had to save a game ball before bagging the opening game. Barker had no answer to the array of backhand kills and drops that Matthew unleashed from the frontcourt.
"Barker had played some tough matches in the run up to the final and I knew that I had to tire him out. The first game win was very crucial as it gave me the initial advantage," said Matthew.
Ashour shows his class
The much-anticipated semifinal between world champion Amr Shabana (Egypt) and the man touted to be his successor, Ramy Ashour, turned out to be one-sided, with the latter clinching the tie in merely 44 minutes.
The first two games were contested closely as both players played deft drops and power hits. Though Ashour took the opening game, Shabana looked settled as he opened a 9-4 lead in the second.
But a flurry of unforced errors and a couple of unbelievable returns saw Ashour win six points in a row.
Shabana managed to save the game ball and then needed four of his own to level scores. But the effort took its toll on the 30-year-old as he ran out of steam in the next two games, the fourth lasting four minutes.