South African Stephen Coppinger and Spaniard Borja Golan will contest the final of the Coronation London Open after prevailing in hard-fought straight-game semi-finals of the PSA World Tour Challenger 15 squash event at the Cumberland Lawn Tennis Club in north-west London.
The opening match demonstrated a master class in retrieval as both second seed Coppinger and Karim Abdel Gawad, the No4 seed from Egypt, combined patient attacks to boost the spectacle of the $20,000 event on its fourth year in the English capital city.
Sheer consistency separated the pair throughout the match. The 27-year-old from Cape Town always had a tighter length and was let off the hook on numerous occasions as Gawad struck the tin more frequently.
This was again evident in the second game, as three of the last four points were errors from Gawad, resulting in the South African extending his lead to two games.
The whole match was played at a furious pace as the competitors looked to gain control of the middle. Neither managed to dominate completely, but Coppinger's extra years on the tour against the 20-year-old proved to be an advantage and the world No35 closed out the match 11-8, 11-9, 11-7.
"For a 3/0 that was a really hard match," said Coppinger after the 39-minute battle. "It felt like I was the one defending for most of it. He has some great shots on him and he builds the rallies really well. He was moving me all over the place.
"I just hope the guys in the other semi have a really long match now," added the South African champion, now in the 13th Tour final of his career and looking for his third title of the year.
In the other semi, Golan faced surprise opponent Chris Simpson, the unseeded Englishman who upset Pakistani favourite Aamir Atlas Khan in a 71-minute quarter-final.
The Spaniard started quickly and Simpson was forced to play catch-up for much of the first game. The initial rallies saw third seed Golan hitting a good length and looking in control of the tee, with much of Simpson's play being recovery shots.
The Englishman was always just off the pace and Golan closed out the first game in 21 minutes. Simpson responded well in the second, attacking confidently and claiming some outrageous backhand volleydrops. At 6-4 up, he looked to have turned a corner after coming so close in the first game - but Golan was not about to lie down and let him have it.
The world No25 from Santiago put together a surging run that saw him take an impressive seven points in a row to claim the second game with Simpson unable to retaliate.
By now the Guernsey-born Englishman was visibly struggling to stay in the game. Golan continued his unanswerable streak with a further six points in the third game, and Simpson was clearly weighed down by his efforts in the quarter-finals. More errors came by his racket and Golan had only to keep up his consistency and ride the Englishman into the ground before claiming the match 11-9, 11-6, 11-5 after 42 minutes.
"My goal is to just keep improving my ranking," said Golan, the former world No10 who is climbing back up the rankings after career-threatening knee surgery. "And I am achieving this slowly but surely at the moment.
"I played Chris about three months ago and won 3/0, but today was a completely different game," added the 28-year-old Spaniard, now in the 34th PSA Tour title of his career. "He has improved a lot and it was a very tough three games. I'm glad it wasn't longer. I tried to push him as much as possible after his 3/2 yesterday and thankfully he began to tire."
RESULTS: PSA Challenger 15 Coronation London Open, London, England
 Borja Golan (ESP) bt Chris Simpson (ENG) 11-9, 11-6, 11-5 (42m)
 Stephen Coppinger (RSA) bt  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 11-8, 11-9, 11-7 (39m)
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