English rivals Matthew and
Willstrop to clash in Canary Wharf final
Bitter rivals Nick
Matthew and James Willstrop will clash in the final of the
Canary Wharf Classic after negotiating physically challenging
hurdles in the semi-finals.
Matthew and world number one Willstrop will meet for the third
time this year – all of them finals - with Matthew winning both
marathon encounters in New York and Manchester.
Matthew holds an
astonishing psychological advantage, having won their last 15
matches. Willstrop’s last victory was in the 2007 final of the
English Open in Matthew’s home city of Sheffield.
“Everyone knows about the rivalry and if it gains media coverage
for the sport then it is a good thing. Nick and I have an
enormous respect for each other but he has enjoyed a long
winning run and I want to do something about that in the final.”
In two pulsating
semi-finals before a sell-out crowd at the East Wintergarden
venue, Matthew took 83 minutes to overcome England team-mate
Peter Barker, the number three seed.
withstood a ferocious onslaught from hard-hitting Egyptian
Mohamed El Shorbagy before winning 3-1 in 61 minutes, his
shortest match of the week after two brutal battles against
Saurav Ghosal and Tarek Momen.
In a repeat of last
year's final, Matthew started slowly against a determined Barker
but fought back to gain control of the match after losing the
He quickly built a
substantial lead in the second game but from 7-1 up he had to
withstand a sustained fightback from Barker before drawing
level. He stayed in front throughout the third but Barker
launched another massive onslaught in the fourth to win it 11-9.
The crowd were
willing the Essex player to maintain that form in the fifth but
Matthew showed class and composure to power ahead from 3-3 to
win the match without dropping another point.
Matthew said: “There
are very fine lines between winning and losing and Peter came
out strongly in the first game, like he always does. He did the
same in last year's final and I was very pleased and relieved to
“After beating the
two local favourites on consecutive days (he overcame Daryl
Selby in the quarters) I hope the crowd will give me a bit more
support in the final.”
solidly against a nervous-looking opponent. Shorbagy, the
21-year-old world number eight from Alexandria, struggled to
find his rhythm but after losing the first game he stepped up a
gear to win the second.
He mixed powerful
drives and volleys with some adventurous angles and a creative
touch at the front of the court.
stamped his authority on the match, imposing a disciplined
framework that eventually strangled Shorbagy’s attacking
opportunities after some phenomenal rallies requiring immense
Willstrop, who has won three Canary Wharf titles, controlled the
third and fourth games and moved to match ball with a floated
length that Shorbagy failed to scrape off the side-wall.
That one shot
illustrated Willstrop’s dominance as he advanced to his fifth
Canary Wharf final.
“Shorbagy has so many different ways of attacking you. He has
won two World Junior Open titles and has moved into the top
eight in the world, which shows how quickly he has adapted to
the playing at the highest level.
“I am delighted to
be in the final and have clocked up many hours and miles on
court this week.”
Willstrop’s day had
begun with a BBC Radio Four interview on the Today programme,
where he spoke about his recently-published book, Shot And A
Ghost, and squash’s bid for a place in the 2020 Olympics.
“Tournaments like these, in a fantastic venue and with capacity
crowds all week, showcase what a brilliant product we have, one
which is absolutely perfect for the Olympic Games.
“The improvements in
the TV production are superb, and it is bitterly disappointing
that we are not to be involved in the 2012 or 2016 Games.
hotel is in Stratford, right next to the Olympic Park, and that
makes it even more galling for us.
“But we will keep
plugging away and I sense a groundswell of optimism that squash
will finally win a deserved place in the 2020 Olympics.”
Willstrop and Matthew Win Bruising
England’s top seeds Nick Matthew and James
Willstrop both survived bruising encounters as they moved one
step closer another titanic battle in the final of the Canary
Willstrop won his second five-game marathon in
the space of 24 hours as he withstood the dazzling racket skills
of Egyptian Tarek Momen to reach the semi-finals of this PSA
International 50 tournament.
The 24-year-old Momen, who beat Matthew in Qatar
last year, played fearless, attacking squash. He raced into a
7-0 lead before Willstrop could settle. The 6ft 4in world No.1
had endured an 84-minute battle against Indian Saurav Ghosal in
the first round the day before and clearly took his time to
He lost the opening game 11-6 and although he
seemed to have found his stride in the second, winning 11-8,
Momen returned to the offensive in the third, volleying
spectacular winners and slicing in winning drops from the back
of the court.
Willstrop again responded to win the fourth 11-3
and led 6-2 in the fifth, but Momen refused to lie down and
accept defeat. He drew level at 8-8 and although Willstrop
thought he had won the match when Momen was denied a let at
10-9, the Egyptian requested a video review which overturned the
Willstrop, a three-time Canary Wharf champion,
had been desperate to shake hands and get out of the door. But
he was forced to focus again and after a quickfire rally he had
clinched his place in the last four.
He admitted: “I’m very relieved to be in the
semi-finals. For the second day running I have played an
opponent who has shown how narrow the gap is between the top
players and those a little further behind.
“Tarek is a very dangerous player. He was
attacking non-stop and I had to try to find a way to stop him
Willstrop, who has recently self-published a book
detailing a year on the world tour, admitted: “At times the
project has been a welcome distraction but in tournaments like
this I have to focus on being a professional squash player and
working hard to protect my number one ranking, which means a lot
Willstrop faces another Egyptian in the
semi-finals. Number four seed Mohamed El Shorbagy powered his
way past Londoner Adrian Grant to win inside 30 minutes.
He said: “I am happy to have won both my matches
in straight games. I wanted to keep up a fast pace on court
tonight and it worked. I know James has had two hard matches but
he is the world number one and knows how to look after himself
in these situations. I haven’t thought about tactics yet but I
am looking forward to playing him.”
World champion Matthew survived a painful
collision in mid-court as he advanced to the semi-finals.
Matthew, who is bidding for a hat-trick of Canary Wharf titles,
was knocked to the floor as his opponent, England team-mate
Daryl Selby, dived in vain after the ball.
Matthew’s shot clinched the opening game but he
required treatment to a painful knee before returning to the
He stepped up the pace to win the second game but
Selby battled throughout the third. From 6-5 down, he worked his
way to 8-6 up. Matthew drew level, but Selby again got his nose
in front at 9-8. However, Matthew’s relentless attack resulted
in three crucial points to win the match.
Selby refused to leave the court as he continued
to discuss a “no-let” call on match ball with the referee.
Matthew said: “Daryl just caught me on my knee at
the end of the first game. It was painful for a moment but it
didn’t bother me after that.
“It was obvious that the crowd were on his side
but we are good friends off court.”
After watching Willstrop’s struggle, he added:
“Our match was as long as James’s five-setter so it shows how
intense it was. I didn’t really think about tactics before the
match. I didn’t want to over-complicate things and just wanted
to use my experience and instincts to get through the match and
it seemed to work.”
Matthew holds a 14-1 careeer advantage over
Barker, while Willstrop leads 4-1 in his head-to-head record
against El Shorbagy.
Nick Matthew v Peter Barker
James Willstrop v Mohamed El Shorbagy
Willstrop Wins Canary Wharf Battle
number one James Willstrop weathered a phenomenal fightback from his
training partner Saurav Ghosal before clinching a place in the
quarter-finals of the Canary Wharf Classic.
two players practice together at Pontefract and are neighbours in Leeds,
but there was no room for friendship or sentiment on court as they
engaged in a battle of enormous skill and brutal physical commitment.
Ultimately, Willstrop’s superior quality delivered victory in 84 minutes
of high-quality entertainment, but the Indian number one earned repeated
bursts of applause from the packed crowd at Canary Wharf’s spectacular
East Wintergarden venue for his never-say-die approach.
winning 11-7, 7-11, 11-4, 10-12, 11-5, Willstrop paid tribute to his
opponent, saying: “I have repeatedly warned people in pre-tournament
interviews that there are no easy matches at this level. If you step off
the pace by the tiniest amount, players like Saurav will jump on the
ball and punish you.
so fast around the court and kept getting the ball back. His retrieving
was so amazing that I could sense the crowd were getting on his side and
willing him to do well.”
Ghosal, who has yet to beat Willstrop in a PSA tournament, held match
ball against him in the WSF World Cup last year. He said: “That match
was very close but this is certainly the best I have played against him
in a PSA event. James is playing so well at the moment, and his straight
game is so immaculate that he hardly gives you anything to hit.
all saw what he did to Ramy Ashour in the North American Open and he is
the best in the world at that because he is so good at holding the ball.
With some players you know where the ball is going but James keeps you
Willstrop’s quarter-final opponent, Tarek Momen, won an all-Egyptian
match against world junior champion Marwan El Shorbagy, 12-10, 13-11,
said: “I guess I’m hoping James might be feeling a little bit tired
after his long match tonight. I enjoyed my first-ever match against
Marwan. He is one to watch for the future, for sure.”
Shorbagy’s elder brother, number four seed Mohamed, overpowered English
wild card Joe Lee in straight games.
the game, El Shorbagy said: “I am so pleased to be back at Canary Wharf
again, playing in this fantastic venue in front of a wonderful crowd.
It’s a tough draw, but I was very keen to come back and try to do my
best here. I am living in England now so I’m hoping to get a bit of
support this week.”
crowd responded with a loud roar of approval and he added: “Life in
Egypt had been very difficult under the former president for so many
years and change was long overdue. We are now looking forward to some
stability after the forthcoming elections.”
quarter-final opponent, Londoner Adrian Grant, needed a strapping
applied to his right leg during his match against qualifier Chris
Simpson but still had enough class and control to win the match in four
taking the opening game, Grant was clearly struggling in a long second,
which Simpson won 13-11. Grant immediately summoned the England physio
Jade Elias to apply bandages but he failed to allow it to upset his
concentration as he won in four games.
said: “There was no way I was going to give up. The adrenalin kicked in
and I was happy to play on. I had enjoyed a session with the England
coach Chris Robertson at Wimbledon on Sunday and he was encouraging me
to attack more and finish rallies more quickly. I am glad he did because
that tactic seemed to work on the glass court here tonight.”
World champion Nick Matthew lead a trio of English players into
Nick Matthew was held up by his Egyptian opponent Ali Anwar Reda before claiming
a place in the Canary Wharf Classic quarter-final.
He was also
held up by an unusual emergency announcement during the match informing a member
of the full-house crowd at the East Wintergarden that a donor kidney was
available for an emergency transplant at Royal London Hospital last night.
playing his first PSA match since losing to another Egyptian, Ramy Ashour, in
the semi-finals of the North American Open.
Matthew by winning the second game. Matthew was in control for the majority of
the first game and led 9-6 in the second, but Reda hit back with a succession of
tight drives and accurate drops to win it 12-10.
regrouped mentally in the third game and imposed himself on the match once more.
From 5-5, he stepped up the pace, hitting tight, crisp drives to all parts of
the court to win six points in a row.
maintained the pressure at the start of the fourth game to lead 5-1 but Reda
rallied to draw level at 5-5 and again at 6-6.
From then on,
Matthew stepped up the court and attacked superbly. He had Reda running from
corner to corner chasing an array of winners from the world champion.
“It has been nice to have some time between tournaments to work on different
things. There is a difference between training fitness and match fitness and
tonight was a good hard match to start the tournament with to get time in on
that, I know I will need to play better against Daryl Selby on Wednesday.”
match lasted exactly an hour and Selby was on court for just five minutes less
as he was forced to battle past qualifier Robbie Temple.
25-year-old left-hander, who employs a double-handed backhand, more than held
his own for long periods of the match.
up a big lead in the first game but the next two were much closer with hardly a
point separating the two players until Selby stepped up the pace at the end.
seed Peter Barker, like Selby from Essex, completed a trio of English victories
by overpowering Hungarian number one Mark Krajcsak in just 29 minutes.
quarter-final adversary, German number one Simon Rosner, will provide
considerably tougher opposition.
number 18 from Paderborn overcame 22-year-old London qualifier Adrian Waller in
straight games. Space on court was at a premium in a match featuring two 6ft 3in
In the opening
two games, the scoring was close until the middle phases, when Rosner raced
ahead. In the third, Rosner led 8-1 before left-hander Waller suddenly found a
spell of inspired form to make the scoreline look much more respectable.