Irish champion Madeline Perry celebrated her 33rd birthday in style in tonight's (Thursday) opening women's quarter-final in the British National Squash Championships when she recorded her first ever tournament win over English rival Tania Bailey - beating the 2006 champion in four games at the National Squash Centre at Sportcity in Manchester.
Bailey, the fifth seed from Lincolnshire still hampered by a long-standing knee injury, took the opening game against the third seed from Banbridge, near Belfast. But Perry quickly regained the upper hand and after 49 minutes completed her breakthrough 6-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-8 victory.
"I hate to keep on going on about my injury, but the main thing tonight is that Madeline played really well - she was on top form and even at my best I would have found it difficult," said 30-year-old Bailey, a former world No4.
"I just wasn't used to playing at that pace - it's mainly my confidence. I just didn't feel comfortable on that court.
"I definitely enjoyed the match, however - but there are so many things to work on.
"I so much want to say that I'm feeling good and playing well - but my body isn't quite quick enough. However, there are more positives to be taken out of the match than negatives!"
Perry, who has only ever beaten the Lincolnshire lass once before - in a Premier League match when Bailey was forced to retire injured - was happy to have won: "She's still so strong and determined - I knew it was going to be tough. I'm just relieved to get through."
The world No8 was playing her first tournament on the National Centre's all-glass showcourt since recording her career-best win over world number Nicol David in last year's British Open.
"This is my special court now. I was pretty determined to win again after that memorable win last time," said the birthday girl.
"I find it tough to play Tania, so I knew I needed to stick in, try to keep her under pressure but play a basic game, I tend to get drawn into her game too easily."
Perry, now in her third semi in four years, will play title-holder Jenny Duncalf after the favourite from Harrogate in Yorkshire cruised to an 11-5, 11-8, 11-2 win over Lauren Briggs, the sixth seed from Essex, in 23 minutes.
Duncalf is playing her first national event since recording two stunning victories on the WISPA World Tour over Nicol David, the Malaysian who has dominated the women's game since 2006.
"I'm happy with the way I am playing at the moment - but the main thing is to keep that momentum going. But those wins did give me confidence - and extra belief in myself," explained the 27-year-old world No3.
"But I've got a tough match coming up now against Madeline in the semi-finals - and I'm looking forward to that," added Duncalf, who has met the Irish number one in past three National championships.
In the opening men's quarter-final, Jonathan Kemp found himself two points away from a sensational straight games upset which would have seen the Shropshire lad make the semi-finals for the first time.
The Halifax-based 28-year-old and fellow left-hander Adrian Grant have faced each other regularly since first meeting in the British Junior U16 Nationals' semi-finals in 1996 - with world No10 Grant boasting a 7-1 head-to-head lead.
And Londoner Grant, the fourth seed, ground out his eighth win tonight, beating seventh seed Kemp 5-11, 9-11, 12-10, 12-10, 11-3 in 70 minutes to claim his fourth successive berth in the semi-finals.
"The standard's very high - Kempy's ranked in the twenties so there are no easy games at this stage," said relieved winner Grant. "I couldn't find my rhythm for the first game and a half, but that was Kempy not letting me settle.
"I got into it later on, but it was never easy, we were both looking to take control of the middle and hunting the volley. It was maybe a bit scrappy, but I'll take a scrappy win!"
In the final match of the day, event favourite Nick Matthew took the first two games against close friend Alister Walker - then had a shock when the fifth-seeded underdog battled back to take the third and build up a 5-2, then 9-8, lead in the fourth.
But defending champion Matthew chased down everything that Walker could throw at him and ultimately clinched an 11-8, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9 victory in exactly one hour.
"He's too good now," said world number two Matthew of his opponent, ranked ten places lower. "He's feisty.
"I was struggling in parts of the game.
"But it is the same in practice - I win the first two games and he wins the third - so I'm used to it," added the 29-year-old from Sheffield. "I told my Dad I didn't want that to happen again tonight, so I was quite annoyed at dropping that third again.
"Players like Ali are coming to their peak so it gets harder and harder."
Walker, 27, from Leeds, was downcast at the outcome: "That's three tournaments in a row now where I've lost 12/10 in the fifth to Shabana; had chances against James; and now this one where I had chances again against the world number two.
"Hopefully I'm going to get one soon, I just have to get some consistency.
"I belong on the court with these guys now, I'm as good as them," added the defeated world No12. "I just need to believe I can beat them.
"It's frustrating, but exciting!"
RESULTS: British National Squash Championships, National Squash Centre, Manchester
 Adrian Grant (Kent) bt  Jonathan Kemp (Shropshire) 5-11, 9-11, 12-10, 12-10, 11-3 (70m)
 Nick Matthew (Yorks) bt  Alister Walker (Glos) 11-8, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9 (60m)
 Madeline Perry (Ireland) bt  Tania Bailey (Lincs) 6-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-8 (49m)
 Jenny Duncalf (Yorks) bt  Lauren Briggs (Essex) 11-5, 11-8, 11-2 (23m)
Friday's quarter-final schedule:
1800  Laura Massaro (Lancs) v  Sarah Kippax (Cheshire)
1845  James Willstrop (Yorks) v  Joey Barrington (Somerset)
1930  Alison Waters (Middx) v  Emma Beddoes (Warwicks)
2015  Peter Barker (Essex) v  Daryl Selby (Essex)
Tickets for the British National Squash Championships – Manchester 2010 can be booked online at www.isportgroup.com/ticketing, or by telephone on 0844-870 0000 - or for further help and information email: [email protected]
For more general details of the 2010 National Championships, please visit the official website: www.nationalsquashchamps.co.uk