He may have fallen one stage short of the squash World Championship final but England’s James Willstrop insisted he could still hold his head high after a series of battling performances in America.

Willstrop, who has slipped to world number 24 after a career-threatening hip injury, was in encouraging form in Washington as he marched steadily through the early knock-out rounds.

He then caught the headlines when he beat top seed Mohamed Elshorbagy and then fifth seed Miguel Angel Rodriguez en route to the last four.

Waiting for him on Saturday night was long-time French rival Greg Gaultier who unfortunately for Willstrop, stretched his winning run against the Englishman to five games with a 11-1, 11-8, 11-8 victory inside 50 minutes.

Gaultier would then go on to claim his first world title when he beat Egypt’s Omar Mosaad in the final.

And Willstrop, while disappointed to see his strong run ended at the semi-final stage, could still find the positives in defeat.

“I went in wanting to win it, but there were two players and one was just really good. All credit to him,” he said.

“Fairytales just don’t happen. It just had to come to an end, but I had a fabulous week and I’m thrilled to be playing.

"There is no difference in level between Mohamed and Greg, but he was a different player on a different day, and with Mohamed, Ramy [Ashour] and Nick [Matthew] out, maybe he got his ears pricked a bit.

“He just played super squash and I didn’t have many answers for most of it, although I managed to produce some good spells of my own.

“I was really shocked by the bad decisions I got at the end, like six, seven, eight! I thought they were horrendous decisions really.

© Sportsbeat 2015