TODAY in Delhi -
 James Willstrop (Eng) bt  Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
19/21, 11/8, 11/4,
6/1 rtd (99m)
Willstrop makes it three in a row in
and gets a Christmas bonus too ...
James Willstrop made it a hat-trick of World Series event
victories as he came from a game down to beat Frenchman
Gregory Gaultier in the final of the Punj Lloyd PSA Masters
in New Delhi, India.
What a first game it was though, 58 minutes of tense, often
brutal play with rarely more than a point between the pair of
them even before the extended extra points, but it was Gaultier
who finally took the lead after almost an hour.
Willstrop, undeterred, made the better start in the second, and
as he took the final point to level the match 11/8 Gaultier
looked to be the one suffering physically.
He was, as Willstrop took the third quickly, and despite
receiving treatment in the interval Gaultier could hardly move
in the fourth and it was no surprise when he conceded at 6/1
not only does James Willstrop make it an unprecedented 15
matches and three major titles in a row - after victories in
Hong Kong and Kuwait - he will also be the new
world number one on 1st Jan 2012, taking over from fellow
Yorkshireman Nick Matthew, who had to sit this tournament out
No wonder James - who coincidentally won the world junior title
in India - commented "it's been an amazing day for me ..."
the PSA Masters is a massive big deal. We've been proud to play this
event for three years now - we've been extremely well looked after.
It's been a very enjoyable event to play in - so thanks to everybody
involved, especially Punj Lloyd.
"There are so many people back home to give thanks to - but I think
might avoid doing that as I'll just forget some very important
"It's a very special day for me. I can't really believe I've played
and won this match - and I'd like to thank Greg for the great spirit
in which it was played.
special to have achieved this here with so many close people here,
including my girl-friend Vanessa, a fantastic and loyal
friend; my Dad, Malcolm, who's given me an incredible amount of
attention since the start; and my brother David, the endless
sessions and work we've put in together; and Mick (Todd).
"To have had them here has made such a difference. If I'd done it
here alone on this day - and Greg talked about not having his team
with him here, but I've been lucky as we planned this - it's just
the most special thing: they've given me so much!
"The day is so special - it wouldn't mean half as much if I hadn't
had these people behind me."
on the final
as a pdf
for your club
Malcolm on the final
... photos by Jozza
Nick Matthew sidelined through injury ,Amr Shabana withdrawn,
there were four of the top six contending in Delhi.
When Ramy Ashour found himself injured again in his match with
Peter Barker and Karim Darwish losing to Mohammed El Shorbagy,
there were two still standing, James Willstrop and Gregory
Gaultier, arguably the two in form players on the world tour.
No-one, though, could have been prepared for what was to happen
in the first game. Willstrop began the better, leading 4-1,but
from 5 all there was scarcely a point between them. Heavy
rallies, as you would expect and extreme quality, a tiebreak
seemed inevitable, but that was only half the story; game balls
to each in turn, both realising how crucial it all was, perhaps
Gaultier the more so;16 all, then 19 all, no end in sight.
Then Gaultier, triumphant, won it 21-19,the longest game in
modern times it seems.
though, cool and composed amidst the usual Gaultier
distractions, did not look at all fazed, as he stepped out for
the second. Attacking he went to 4-1 and 7-3 ,a couple of flukes
keeping Gaultier in touch. But Willstrop won the game 11-9 and
the advantage appeared to be with him now, an advantage that was
confirmed in the third as Gaultier's resistance lowered and he
attempted to break Willstrop's concentration and rhythm by
slowing everything down, especially when receiving serve. He
took an injury break and there was little doubt now the end was
At 6-1 down in the fourth he shook Willstrop's hand and the Punj
Lloyd World Masters champion and new world no. 1 was overcome
with emotion as he embraced his girlfriend Vanessa Atkinson,
brother David and manager Mick Todd.
As the only one of the top six never to reach one, this was a
special moment for him.
Two opponents who are no
strangers to each other will contest the final of the last World
Series event of the year in Delhi.
James Willstrop and Gregory Gaultier have been playing each
other since 1999 - well, before that probably, but it was
Gaultier who won that first competitive meeting, the British
Junior Open U17 final.
The Frenchman went on to win all five of their junior meetings,
and the first senior one too, in the 2004 European Individuals.
Willstrop started to get the wins though, and as seniors they
stand tied at 9-all, although those junior wins put Gaultier
14-9 ahead overall, and in PSA meetings it's 8-7 to the
Probably more relevant is that this will be their 6th meeting of
2001, all of them at later stages in World Series events
(technically the World Open isn't World Series, go figure).
Gaultier won the first three, Willstrop the last two.
And of course, Willstrpop went on to win both of those
tournaments, in Hong Kong and Kuwait, and is he makes it an
iunprecedented hat-trick today he has the added bonus of
becoming World Number One for the first time come the new year.
Gaultier has been at #1 of course, and he wants to get there
again. Whether his own ambition or the urge to deny James is
stronger is an unknown, but what we do know is that we're in for
a hell of a final.
As they say in Delhi ... stay tuned ...