The finals are set
Top seeds and defending champions Laura Massaro and Nick Matthew are through to the finals where they will face the challenges of Sarah-Jane Perry and Joe Lee.
Massaro came from a game down to deny first time semifinalist Emily Whitlock while Perry beat four-time champion Alison Waters, also in four games. Matthew looked in impressive form as he beat Declan James in straight games while Lee came from a game down to beat fellow 5/8 seed Adrian Waller to reach a first final.
 Laura Massaro 3-1 [3/4] Emily Whitlock 7/11, 11/7, 11/4, 11/4 (46m)
[3/4] Sarah-Jane Perry 3-1  Alison Waters 11/6, 11/8, 9/11, 11/7 (46m)
[5/8] Joe Lee 3-1 [5/8] Adrian Waller 6/11, 12/10, 11/8, 11/9 (71m)
 Nick Matthew 3-0 [5/8] Declan James 11/6, 11/3, 11/5 (44m)
SJ back in the Final
When Sarah-Jane Perry won the title in 2015, her 3-2 wins over Alison Waters and Laura Massaro were massive upsets. Since that breakthrough SJ has gone from strength to strength, capturing a number of famous scalps and is now ranked inside the top ten.
Although four-time champion Alison Waters was seeded two, SJ is currently ranked higher, so her 11/6, 11/8, 9/11, 11/7 (46m) is an upset in the seedings, but not on form.
Perry started strongly, and early in the third a three-nil win looked likely. Waters battled back to reduce the deficit, but was always trailing in the fourth and couldn’t deny SJ this time.
“I’m really happy to get that win,” said Sarah-Jane. “I started strongly but then she upped her game and it became a bit of a dogfight so I was really happy to close out that fourth.
“I hope I can continue to play well tomorrow and we have another good final – maybe not as long as the last one, but I’m sure it will be good …”
Massaro through to 8th Final
Defending champion Laura Massaro recovered from a game down to beat Emily Whitlock and reach her 8th Nationals final with a 7/11, 11/7, 11/4, 11/4 (46m) scoreline.
“She was spotless in the first,” admitted Massaro, “but you know you’re going to have a tough time against all these up and coming players with no fear and nothing to lose.
“I just had to hang in and try to stay in touch. I was happy with how I managed to get on top in the end.”
Joe does his Dad proud
Joe Lee reached the Nationals final with a 6/11, 12/10, 11/8, 11/9 (71m) win over long-time rival and friend Adrian Waller, to the delight of his watching father and brother.
Waller came from behind to take the first, then made three errors when leading at the end of the second to let Lee back in. Joe took the third, and another pair of Waller errors put him within touching distance in the fourth, taking it on a no let on his second match ball.
“It feels just like the old junior days,” said Joe. “We’re only two months apart in age and we’ve been playing and rooming together since we were 11, and we are again this week.
“I think I gave my dad a heart attack a few times there, but I made it in the end!” .
Dad Danny was pleased: “I think he won the mental battle there, he needs to do more of that, but this shows that he can do it so hopefully he can go on from here.”
Double figures for Matthew
Nick Matthew reached his tenth Nationals final with an impressive display against Declan James, the eight-time champion winning 11/6, 11/3, 11/5 (44m) to conclude semi-finals day.
James competed well at the start of each game, but Matthew finished each of them strongly, pulling away to fend off yet another young challenger.
“I was ready for him today,” said Matthew, “I’ve seen his results and the work he’s doing in training, so I knew I couldn’t afford to let him in at all. He’s got a big future, I just had to make sure it didn’t start tomorrow!
“Everyone was expecting it on paper to be me and James again, but it’s not done on paper. James will come again but it’s Joe’s turn tomorrow.
“The way it’s gone has made my week harder if anything, people are saying you just have to turn up to win, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Joe has nothing to lose, it will be the match of his life so I’m looking forward to a real battle and I’ll have to be ready for it.”