England's Nick Matthew and Frenchman Gregory Gaultier will contest the PSA World Open final after surviving straight games semi-finals today at the New Luxor Theatre in Rotterdam.

Title-holder Matthew, who is hoping to become the first man in 15 years to successfully defend the title, beat Egypt's third seed Karim Darwish 11-9, 11-9, 11-1 - while sixth Gautier, the runner-up in 2006 and 2007, put paid to an all-English final by beating James Willstrop 11-6, 11-8, 11-4 and is now bidding to make it third time lucky on Sunday.

It was neck and neck in the first two games of the first semi - with Matthew edging both games before overwhelming the 30-year-old from Cairo in the third to reach the final for the second year in a row.

"The first two games were crucial," explained Darwish to the official event website www.worldopensquash2011.com afterwards. "We were point for point the whole game, but he managed to win the crucial points, playing extremely well at the end of each game."

It was a blow for the Egyptian, who had reached the final without dropping a single game - while Matthew had been stretched the full distance in the last 16 round and to four games in the quarter-finals.

The Englishman was delighted with the way the match panned out: "Getting through in three is obviously a massive bonus. We know Karim can come back from those situations - he's beaten me from two love down before.

"When you have two close games like that, it's massively important to keep momentum. I knew that if I had a good start in the third it would be a very long way back for him.

"The crowd were amazing today," added the 31-year-old from Sheffield. "There wasn't a home player as such, but they seem to get behind squash as a sport. Hopefully the final will live up to the expectations and I look forward to playing in it tomorrow."

The success marks the 46th PSA World Tour final of Matthew's career - and his 11th since winning the 2010 World Open crown in Saudi Arabia last December.

Hopes of a repeat of last year's Matthew/Willstrop final were dashed when Gaultier repeated his victory over the Yorkshireman in last month's Qatar Classic final - but unlike that match, which went to four games, this was wrapped up in three.

But the Frenchman was full of praise for Willstrop - with whom he shared a 6/6 head-to-head record before the match: "We've been playing each other since we were kids. Our generation had a lot of strong players Thierry, James, Nick - it's nice to still compete with all these players.

"It was a bit of a fight in the first game, but then I think we both relaxed," Gaultier continued. "I don't think either of us wanted to be too aggressive on court. He's not like that at all and I don't think I'm too like that either!

"It was nice to play from the second game. It was a much better game and I tried a lot more and so we relaxed a lot and he chose a better game I think. So we gave 100% in this semi-final stage of the World Open.

"This week I took it match per match. I've felt very relaxed on court and haven't been thinking about the title. It's not over yet so I'm just going to try and relax tonight and my physio can get to work. I'll try to do my best tomorrow. I wish him luck, but I also wish myself a lot of luck!"

Gaultier's win marks up his 42nd Tour final appearance.

RESULTS: PSA World Open, Rotterdam, Netherlands

[1] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [3] Karim Darwish (EGY) 11-9, 11-9, 11-1 (53m)
[6] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [4] James Willstrop (ENG) 11-6, 11-8, 11-4 (64m)

More information can be found on the official tournament site www.worldopensquash2011.com

For all the latest Tour news: www.psaworldtour.com