Injury thwarts Ashour as Matthew, Gaultier make final
Ramy Ashour of Egypt hits a return in Canberra on August 19, 2012
The sport's most brilliant player and most charismatic personality was reduced to a sombre figure, close to tears, at having dreams of repeating his world title triumph in Manchester five years ago shattered.
Instead it became the third time in four world championships that the world number one from Egypt has been forced to quit in the middle of the tournament, raising questions as to what the 26-year-old can do to prolong his career.
After two painfully half-hearted rallies at the start of the third game, Ashour shook hands and received some consoling words from Matthew who made it to his third final in four years with the score at 6-11, 11-2, 2-0 in his favour.
In Sunday's final, Matthew will face French second seed Gregory Gaultier who defeated Mohamed El Shorbagy, the Egyptian sixth seed, 6-11, 11-3, 11-8, 12-10.
Ashour confirmed that he suffered the injury during his hard third round match with Cameron Pilley of Australia, which went to four games and lasted more than an hour.
"I've been having a lot of physio, and ice and acupuncture - and taking pills to relax," he said.
"It's going to be hard because I have been pushing my leg far too much and that's not the right way to do it.
"I've been expecting something wrong to happen but I've been trying to stay positive. It's a very big disappointment to me. I have to go back and see what's wrong with my legs," Ashour added.
"People in the hospital told me I have fatigue in my hamstrings and that it's going to come back, but that I might get lucky if it doesn't come back.
"It's a bit uncertain," he went on, referring to the future. "There is no certain thing I can do to make it go away. I will have to go away for the 25th time and try to find a way to come back again."
Matthew, twice a former winner of the world title, will now play Gaultier, who survived a late night drugs test, a lack of sleep, and a superbly tenacious Shorbagy to reach his fourth world final.
Matthew was well beaten by Gaultier in the US Open final in Philadelphia two weeks ago.
"You know I don't really think about it," said Gaultier.
"I just enjoy being on court and playing well and being free of injury. I try to fly on court. It's just a pleasure, and if it's a pleasure when you work everything comes and you manage to play well."
Gaultier started slowly on Saturday and allowed Shorbagy to take leads of 4-0 in the third game and 8-4 in the fourth, and profited rather fortunately three points from the end from a debatable no let decision which prevented a valiant opponent from reaching two games all.
Gaultier had gone to bed at 5 am, he claimed, because he had been given a drug test during the evening, and eventually slept for only three hours.
"I was on the toilet, like this," he said, giving a brief demonstration. "I was a bit sleepy but I managed to do it."
His best was still very good indeed. He turned the pivotal third game round with the help of a monster rally of more than a hundred strokes at 8-7 which he won with a forehand volley to a perfect length, and also with a cool head during what followed.
Shorbagy did more of the physical work, but was still able to extend the contest to a testing 80 minutes.