• ISS Canary Wharf Squash Classic • 21st to 25th March 2011 • London •  






Today ] SEMIS ] QUARTERS ] [ Day TWO ] Day ONE ] Qualifying ]

TODAY at the Canary Wharf Classic
Tue 23rd March,
Round one part two ...

[7] Alister Walker (Eng) bt Tom Richards (Eng)
         11/3, 6/11, 12/10, 11/4 (47m)
[4] Peter Barker (Eng) bt Adrian Waller (Eng)
          11/5, 11/6, 11/7 (37m)
[2] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt [Q] Nicolas Mueller (Sui)
          11/7, 11/3, 11/2 (30m)
[5] David Palmer (Aus) bt [Q] Davide Bianchetti (Ita)
          11/2, 7/11, 12/10, 11/5 (61m)


French squash star Gregory Gaultier reached the quarter-finals of the ISS Canary Wharf Classic last night and revealed that he had to take a break from the game to cope with the enormous emotional stress he suffered after reaching the world No.1 spot last year.

Number two seed Gaultier eased past Swiss qualifier Nicolas Mueller, winning 11-7, 11-3, 11-7 in just 30 minutes.

He then admitted that he had taken a rest from the game to deal with the psychological impact on his life after taking over at the top of the rankings in November.

He said: “It all got to me and I needed to take a break. I was No.2 for so long and it was hard work doing all that chasing. The pressure just built up.

“But I have been training hard for three weeks and I am now very happy with my life. I travel the world and play in different countries all the time. I am 27 now and want to continue playing for many years to come, and I want to enjoy it.”

Gaultier faces David Palmer in the quarter-finals after the Australian overcame fellow veteran Davide Bianchetti in a tempestuous battle.

With the match poised at one game all, the crucial third game was a tempestuous affair, with constant physical contact resulting in explosive verbal confrontations with referee John Massarella. Bianchetti twice opened the court door to rant at the official after decisions had gone against him.

It was pure theatre and the sell-out crowd at Canary Wharf’s East Wintergarden venue loved it.

Palmer won the game 12-10 and encountered little resistance as he powered home in the fourth, clinching victory with a spectacular volley kill into the front right corner.

The Australian’s triumph sets up a repeat of last year’s semi-final with Gaultier, which Palmer won with a magnificent fightback from two games down before going on to win the tournament.

World No.12 Alister Walker booked a place in the quarter-finals by beating English rival Tom Richards.

Walker, the No.7 seed, won a hard-fought first round first round encounter 11-3, 6-11, 12-10, 11-4 in 47 minutes.

Walker, a shock semi-finalist at Canary Wharf two years ago, finished as strongly as he started, playing tight, aggressive squash.

Richards had a purple patch in the middle of the match, winning the second game with some deft drop shots and battling all the way through the third until Walker won the tiebreak on a hotly disputed penalty stroke.

No.4 seed Peter Barker meets Walker in the quarter-finals after subduing Adrian Waller in an all-London derby clash.

Barker was in control throughout the match, winning 11-5, 11-6, 11-7 in 37 minutes.

The Islington-based Barker, who has struggled to hit peak form this year despite his rise up the rankings, is determined to do well in front of his home crowd this week.

He said: “I had an injury in training at the start of the year and that put me back. But maybe that disappointment helped me to refocus on my game. There are so many good young English players coming through that I feel like an old man at 26.”

Barker's win made it five Englishmen in the quarter-finals.

"That wasn't easy, players like Tom make it extremely difficult for you.

"There's a group of us chasing the top ten and another group chasing us, you can never afford to let your guard down.

"When I lost narrowly to Shabana in the ToC that was the standard and level of play I'm aiming to play at, so it's a question of maintaining consistency."

[7] Alister Walker (Eng) bt Tom Richards (Eng)
         11/3, 6/11, 12/10, 11/4 (47m)

Walker maintains English order

In the first of two all-English clashes at the start of day two, Alister Walker maintained the established pecking order with victory over Tom Richards, but it was far from a stroll in the park.

After a tight opening Richards, who was saved from having to qualify by the withdrawal of Aamir Atlas Khan, subsided quickly to go one down.

He regrouped though, pulling away from 4-all in the second to level, and the third was close all the way to 10-all. An error from Richards and then a stroke that left Richards shaking his head in the middle of the court for several seconds while Walker was already off court, back in the lead.

The seventh seed didn't let his opponent back in again, he was quickly ahead in the fourth and never looked like losing it, finishing it off with a low, stretching reflex volley into the nick.

[4] Peter Barker (Eng) bt Adrian Waller (Eng)
          11/5, 11/6, 11/7 (37m)

Barker shuts the door

The second match of the evening was not only all-English, it was all-London.

Peter Barker, after a very good 2009 has had some mixed results in 2010 while the new year has been good for Adrian Waller who has produced some of his best ever results.

Barker quickly established his seniority though, racing to a 10/2 lead in the first and although Waller pulled a few points back it was never going to be enough.

By the middle of the second though Waller was beginning to get on terms, and at 7/5 to Barker the match was getting tighter by the rally. A series of errors though left Waller looking to the heavens and Barker walking off two games to the good.

Waller regrouped to contest the third just as well as he had most of the second, and levelled at 7-all. Barker hadn't been doing anything special, but presumably sensing the danger he took the lead with a wrong-footing crosscourt and then reeled off three quality winners to close out the match.

"There seem to be a lot of younger ones coming through at the moment, you have to keep your wits about you. It shows how long I've been playing that I feel like one of the older ones!

"I finished last year well, getting to a couple of major semi-finals, but I was injured at the start of this year, had a couple of weeks off and my results have been pretty poor to be honest.

"Sometimes you need something like that to make you realise what you need to do, I've had that shock and I feel I'm playing pretty well now."

"I tried my best, but I was a bit off the pace today. Congratulations to him and good luck for the rest of the tournament.

"We had Roger Federer training at our club recently, and I learned a lot from watching him train.

"He's not a bad squash player either, you can see he's got a few racket skills!"

[2] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt [Q] Nicolas Mueller (Sui)
          11/7, 11/3, 11/2 (30m)

Greg too classy

He may not have enjoyed the best of runs since becoming world number one towards the end of last year, suffering a few unexpected defeats and slipping to number six, but second seed Gregory Gaultier looked in good enough form tonight as he despatched Swiss qualifier Nicolas Mueller.

Mueller competed well, and they had a good number of extended rallies that the packed crowd appreciated noisily, but 5-7 in the first was as close as Gaultier allowed his opponent to get, easing away to take the lead and opening up gaps of 10/1 in the second and 8/1 in the third before applying the finishing touches to reach another quarter-final.

"I always try to do my best even when I'n not feeling or playing at my best. I've felt sharp every year I've played here but I've never won it.

"I lost a bit of motivation over the last few months, but I took some time off, I've trained really hard the past three weeks and I'm enjoying getting on court and enjoying playing now, and when I'm enjoying it I usually play well."


[5] David Palmer (Aus) bt [Q] Davide Bianchetti (Ita)
          11/2, 7/11, 12/10, 11/5 (61m)

Palmer foils Bianchetti fightback

Just as last night, the final match of the evening was the most closely contested, although it didn't look that way when defending champion David Palmer ran away with the first game 11/2 in eight minutes.

But Davide Bianchetti upped his game - a lot - and the next two games were two of the best of the tournament so far.

The Italian took and early lead in the second and held on to level, and the third was nip and tuck all the way.

At 9-all Bianchetti was denied a let, a decision which upset him greatly. "Crucial," he told the referees, "crucial". On game ball a let was played on Bianchetti's pickup, and on the replay he was awarded a let when he - and most of the audience - thought a stroke was in order. On the third time of asking he hit a backhand volley into the nick to force extra points and pointed his racket towards the referees accusingly.

It was all in vain though as Palmer got the better of a counter-drop exchange to set up another game ball then put in another unreachable drop to regain the lead.

As Bianchetti had predicted, that that game proved crucial, and Palmer always kept his nose in front in the fourth, finishing it with an outrageous backhand volley slammed into the nick to set up a quarter-final with Gaultier.

"We've played each other a lot of times but not for a while, I didn't know how he was playing so it was important to get a good start.

"I noticed from the first point he looked a bit stiff so I upped the pace and kept it going.

"Sometimes though when you win a game so quickly you don't get a feel for the court, and he came back and played very well for two games.

"In the past I might have pulled away earlier but it was difficult to shake him off. Once I'd got a good start in the fourth though I could feel him fading away and that made life a bit easier at the end."

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