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






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TODAY at the Canary Wharf Classic
Wed 24th March, Quarter-Finals

[3] James Willstrop (Eng) bt [8] Daryl Selby (Eng)
       9/11, 11/9, 11/3, 11/8 (61m)
[1] Nick Matthew (Eng) bt [6] Thierry Lincou (Fra)
       11/8, 11/5, 11/5 (42m)
[2] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt [5] David Palmer (Aus)
        11/3, 6/11, 4/11, 11/7, 11/6 (81m)
[4] Peter Barker (Eng) bt [7] Alister Walker (Eng)
         11/6, 11/8, 11/4 (55m)



England team-mates James Willstrop and Nick Matthew will continue their fierce rivalry when they meet in the semi-finals of the ISS Canary Wharf Classic.

World No.2 Matthew looked ruthlessly efficient as he beat former world champion Thierry Lincou in straight games but Willstrop was given a difficult time by rising star Daryl Selby.

Before a sell-out crowd at Canary Wharf’s superb East Wintergarden venue tonight, Willstrop overcame rising Selby 9-11, 11-9, 11-3, 11-8 in 61 minutes of high-quality and often physical squash.

World No.12 Selby, from Essex, began solidly and was obviously high on confidence as he produced a succession of stunning winners to win the first game.

He led 7-5 in the second but Willstrop won four points in a row to put himself in a strong position. Selby drew level at 9-9 but mistakes cost him the game.

He struck the tin with a drop shot to give Willstrop game ball at 10-9 and was surprised by Willstrop’s bodyline serve on match ball. Selby shaped to receive serve on his backhand but was unable to react quickly and sent a weak forehand into the floor as Willstrop fired the ball towards the other side of his body.

Willstrop, the 26-year-old world No.4 from Leeds, led throughout the third game to win 11-3 but Selby resumed his attack in the fourth. He was unable to convert a 7-6 lead and Willstrop finished strongly to win 11-8.

Both players spent a lot of time on the floor following a succession of collisions and there were frequent arguments with referee Wendy Danzey.

Willstrop admitted that he was surprised by the challenge Selby mounted. He said: “He has been playing in Canada for three weeks and flew back after his final on Sunday night. Frankly I was amazed he got through the first round against Tarek Momen on Monday after a schedule like that. I know I couldn’t have done it.

“Daryl has worked hard to become a very good professional squash player and I am sure he is certainly good enough to get into the world top ten if he carries on playing like that.”

Matthew has beaten Willstrop in their three matches so far this year and looked in top form as he removed Lincou with a fast, high-pressure game.

But he warned: “Results in the early rounds don’t mean anything. James is playing very well at the moment and it seems like we are playing each other every week.

“We have played each other hundreds of times over the years and it’s bound to be another difficult match.”


French No.2 seed Gregory Gaultier reached the semi-finals with a battling victory over reigning champion David Palmer, the Orlando-based Australian.

Gaultier began superbly, winning the opening game for the loss of just three points, but he fell awkwardly on game ball and had to received treatment at courtside.

He came back on to clinch the game but Palmer sensed an opportunity and dominated the next two games. Then it was Gaultier’s turn to fight his way back into the match and he led 5-1 in the fourth before Palmer turned the tables to draw level at 6-6.

Gaultier maintained his control to win 11-7 to take the match to a fifth game. He built up a 6-2 lead but the 33-year-old Palmer again dug deep to launch a comeback.

At one stage he left the court to argue with referee Jos Aarts and accused Gaultier of blocking his path to the ball. It was a fiery finish to the match but again the Frenchman held his nerve to win 11-3, 6-11, 4-11, 11-7, 11-6 in 81 minutes of classic squash.

A relieved Gaultier said: “David has been a great champion down the years and he is still playing amazing squash at 33. I have so much respect for what he has done in the game and I am very pleased to win. I want to thank my physiotherapist for getting me back in shape after my fall and I am so pleased she travelled to watch me play.”

Gaultier meets No.4 seed Peter Barker after the left-handed Londoner beat Leeds-based Alister Walker with a clinical display of tight, attacking squash.

Barker won 11-6, 11-8, 11-4 in 55 minutes to send out the message that he is back near his best after a disappointing start to the year that followed his rise to No.6 in the PSA world rankings.

Walker, who has risen to 13 in the world on the back of some impressive performances on the world tour, struggled to find a suitable length or width on the glass court and was punished for his errors.

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"It was a bit of an uneven start, I felt a bit ploddy, I wasn't injecting pace at the right time and my short game wasn't going. There was no real turning point, it was just a bit of a scrap really.

"But what a great effort from him, just back after three weeks in Canada while I've been putting my feet up and training - I certainly couldn't do that."

[3] James Willstrop (Eng) bt [8] Daryl Selby (Eng)
          9/11, 11/9, 11/3, 11/8 (61m)

Daryl makes James work

What a match Daryl Selby made of the first quarter-final. For two games there was nothing in it, nothing at all, and if Daryl succumbed to tournament fatigue and/or jetlag in the third, it was perfectly understandable.

Still, he managed to keep James honest in the fourth, holding the three-time champion to 8/7 despite several times looking out on his feet.

That the third seed managed to finish the game off to move into yet another Canary Wharf semi wasn't a surprise either, in the end, but all credit to Daryl for a great effort.

"It was really close at the start, just a couple of points at the end of the second and that made a big difference. I was feeling it in the third, and in the fourth I was going for it whenever there was a chance and a  few of them came off."

"The atmoshpere was good with a lot of people supporting me, which helped pick me up in the middle of the fourth for a bit of extra effort. But at the end of the day James was just too good and deserved to win."

[1] Nick Matthew (Eng) bt [6] Thierry Lincou (Fra)
           11/8, 11/5, 11/5 (42m)

Matthew profits from French errors

While top seed Nick Matthew was probably playing well enough tonight to have won anyway, his caused was greatly helped by an error-strewn performance from Thierry Lincou.

Competing well in the rallies, the Frenchman made unforced errors time after time, particularly in the second where Matthew went from 2/3 down to 7/4 up largely on the back of Lincou's errors, several from winning positions.

"Thierry's someone I've looked up to for a long time, he wasn't at his best tonight but he'll be back and he's still got a lot to offer.

"James and I seems to play every week, so tomorrow will be a battle and just as tough as all the others.

"You don't win anything playing well in the early rounds, he's playing well and is confident, so I'll have to be at my best tomorrow ..."

[2] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt [5] David Palmer (Aus)
        11/3, 6/11, 4/11, 11/7, 11/6 (81m)

Gaultier survives, Palmer deposed

Gregory Gaultier may have won seven of his last eight meetings with David Palmer, but significantly their last meeting was when the Australian came from two behind to win in last year's semi-finals here.

The Frenchman looked like he was determined to put that memory to rest as he started out strongly, reaching 10/1 in the first before he took a three-minute break after slipping on his ankle.

Palmer seemed to take heart, pulled a couple of points back in that one before really capitalising in the second and third games, looking really up for it now as he hunted the ball, forcing Gaultier to play tighter and tighter and make mistakes.

Gaultier pulled himself together for the fourth, took a good lead but almost squandered with two careless tins to let Palmer back to 6-all. The danger was quickly snuffed out though as he levelled, much to his own delight, and that of the crowd's who wanted more.

He took another good lead in the decider, 5/2 and 8/3 and although Palmer kept him working, Gaultier was flowing now and soon enough the defending champion was out.

"I started pretty strong, felt really easy and moving well. I maybe lost concentration a bit after the first, but he changed the rhythm and I wasn't upping the pace any more.

"At 2/1 down I got some good advice from Thierry who was in my corner tonight, and I really didn't want to give up this match, I've lost too many over the last four months.

"I upped my rhythm and I'm really happy to win, even 3/2, but all credit to David he's a great champion."

[4] Peter Barker (Eng) bt [7] Alister Walker (Eng)
            11/6, 11/8, 11/4 (55m)

Barker sets up Gaultier semi

Peter Barker got the better of his English Rival Alister Walker in the last of the quarter-finals, always seeming to hold the edge in a match that was never easy.

Walker took a little while to find his range, playing quite loosely at the start, but once he tightened his play up it developed into an even contest, played mainly at the back of the court.

However Barker was able to pull away at the end of the final two games to clinch a semi-final spot against Gregory Gaultier.

"The key is to get in front on that court and I managed to do that a little better than him tonight.

"I'm very pleased with that, on for it's a good win for me, especially to win 3/0. I've not been playing well, he's had some good results and isn't far behind me in the rankings, so hopefully I can continue on from here ..."

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