By Mike Jones and Gareth Evans
Defending champions Nick Matthew and Laura Massaro sailed through to the semi-finals of the Dunlop National Squash Championships 2018 in Manchester.
Four-time National champion, Massaro looked in fine form to overpower fellow compatriot Emily Whitlock in a repeat of their 2017 semi-final: 11-5, 11-6, 11-6 (27m).
“I got myself into a few good leads,” said Massaro afterwards.
“Emily came back well several times, but I always seemed to have enough points in hand.”
Meanwhile, nine-time National champion, Matthew closed out the day with a comprehensive 11-7, 11-5, 11-5, victory over 5/8 seed Josh Masters.
Matthew, the World No. 8 capitalised on some unforced errors in the first then turned on the heat in the second and third to outwit his 22-year-old opponent and win 11-7, 11-5, 11-5 (36m).
Matthew, 37 said:
“In between games I didn’t feel like I was getting that much of a rhythm.”
“The way Josh plays he breaks the rhythm up and makes you feel like you aren’t settled.”
Three time-world champion, Matthew goes on to meet Chris Simpson who overcame Scot Greg Lobban in three: 11-8, 11-1, 11-6 (35m).
Meanwhile, two-time National champion James Willstrop, who is appearing in his 20th Nationals, suffered a shock in his first game against 22-year-old Richie Fallows with the youngster racing to an 11-6 lead.
But Willstrop, the World No.16 quickly regained his composure to take the match 6-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-7 and advance to his 12th Nationals semi-final.
Willstrop goes on to meet 2011 former champion, Daryl Selby in the semis and said:
“It’s great fun at this point, I love Daryl to bits, so hopefully we’ll just get stuck in and have a great battle on Saturday.”
Meanwhile, Selby, the 2011 champion, faced 21-year-old qualifier Emyr Evans in the first of the men’s quarter-finals and came up against a determined opponent.
A couple of shots were all that separated the two in the opening games but Selby soon upped the ante and closed out the match, winning 11-9, 11-9, 11-8 (38m).
Meanwhile, Evans’s sister and five-time Welsh National Champion, Tesni Evans overpowered two-time National champion Jenny Duncalf in three: 11-9, 11-5, 11-8 (31m).
Evans goes on to meet Massaro, in what will be a repeat of the 2017 PSA World Championships second round which saw Evans oust the former World No.1.
Elsewhere, second seed and 2015 champion Sarah-Jane Perry also advanced to her third Nationals semi-final following a clinical display against Millie Tomlinson.
Perry, the World No. 8 was made to work in the first as Tomlinson utilised many attacking cross courts shots to come back from 5-8 down and draw level at 9-9.
But Perry soon found her form to gain control and take the next two without reply to record an 11-9, 11-2, 11-1 victory, and set up a semi-final clash against four-time National champion Alison Waters.
Waters, meanwhile made light work of 5/8 seed Fiona Moverley requiring just 29 minutes to advance to her 13th British Nationals semi-final.
 Laura Massaro (Eng) 3-0 [5/8] Emily Whitlock (Eng) 11-5, 11-6, 11-6 (27m)
[3/4] Daryl Selby (Eng) 3-0 [Q] Emyr Evans (Wal) 11-9, 11-9, 11-8 (38m)
[3/4] Tesni Evans (Wal) 3-0 [5/8] Jenny Duncalf (Eng) 11-9, 11-5, 11-8 (31m)
 James Willstrop (Eng) 3-1 Richie Fallows (Eng) 6-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-7 (49m)
[3/4] Alison Waters (Eng) 3-0 [5/8] Fiona Moverley (Eng) 11-9, 11-8, 11-5 (29m)
[5/8] Chris Simpson (Ggy) 3-0 [3/4] Greg Lobban (Sco) 11-8, 11-1, 11-6 (35m)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng) 3-0 [5/8] Millie Tomlinson (Eng) 11-9, 11-2, 11-1 (24m)
 Nick Matthew (Eng) 3-0 [5/8] Josh Masters (Eng) 11-7, 11-5, 11-5 (36m)