Injury thwarts Ashour's hopes of title defence
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 here 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 squash genius can do to prolong his career.
He outplayed the former world champion from England with patches of brilliant winners in the first game, but was nowhere near the same player in the second, making no attempt to play the last two rallies out.
After two painfully half-hearted rallies at the start of the third game, Ashour shook hands and received some consoling words with Matthew who made it to his third final in four years with the score at 6-11, 11-2, 2-0 in his favour.
Afterwards 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 within minutes of the finish.
"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, who was the last person to have beaten Ashour, 18 months ago at the British Open in London, admitted to being nonplussed by what had happened.
"I'm not sure how to be feeling. You work your whole year - and for that," he said.
"It's not how you want to get to the final. I will have to do a job to regroup, but at the moment I don't feel selfish.
"At some point I have to get selfish and prepare for tomorrow (the world final) but I have not digested what has happened yet."
Matthew, twice a former winner of the world title, will play either Gregory Gaultier, the second-seeded Frenchman who has three times been runner-up, and Mohamed el Shorbagy, the sixth-seeded Egyptian who was runner-up last time in Doha.