With both players making the final for the first time, England's James Willstrop and Egypt's Karim Darwish will contest Sunday's climax of the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open after surviving today's semi-finals of the seventh PSA World Series squash event of the year on an all-glass court at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre in straight games.

Willstrop, the world No3 from Leeds, became the first Englishman to reach the final of the long-established Tour event for seven years following an emphatic 11-9, 11-9, 11-1 victory over fifth seed Gregory Gaultier - a defeat which denied the Frenchman his fifth successive final appearance.

The win ended Gaultier's four-match unbeaten run over the Yorkshireman stretching back more than a year.

Both players reached the semi in contrasting styles - Gaultier in a 90-minute marathon upset over England's world number one and world champion Nick Matthew, and Willstrop in a 27-minute clash with Peter Barker in which his fellow countryman retired injured early in the third game.

"Today, the conditions suited me better," Willstrop told www.squashsite.com afterwards. "He also had a very hard match yesterday that took a lot out of him.

"I've got to the semis a few times - but today, getting to the final, and trying to put my name alongside the prestigious names on that trophy, it's pretty special," added the 28-year-old, now in his 26th PSA World Tour final.

Darwish, the world No6 from Cairo, took just 37 minutes to end Mohd Azlan Iskandar's run, beating the unseeded Malaysian 11-3, 11-8, 11-2 to celebrate his first semi-final win at his third attempt in a row.

"Like I said yesterday, at this stage of the competition, I really wanted to spend as little time on there as possible, so a 3/0 is perfect for me," said the delighted second seed.

"But it was not easy, Azlan is a tough competitor even if he wasn't at his best today," added the 30-year-old former world number one who will be marking his 36th Tour final appearance.

RESULTS: PSA World Series Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open, Hong Kong

[3] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [5] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 11-9, 11-9, 11-1 (67m)
[2] Karim Darwish (EGY) bt Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS) 11-3, 11-8, 11-2 (37m)

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