• Canary Wharf Squash Classic • 18th to 22nd March 2013 • London •  








SEMIS ] QUARTERS ] Day TWO ] Day ONE ] Qualifying ]

TODAY at the Canary Wharf Classic 2012: Fri 23rd, FINAL

[1] Nick Matthew  bt [2] James Willstrop 11/7, 11/8, 11/9 (78m)


Alan Thatcher reports

World champion Nick Matthew extended his long winning run against English rival James Willstrop by claiming a hat-trick of Canary Wharf Classic titles.

Matthew clinched victory in straight games but the quality of the squash and the length of the rallies meant that a brutally-fought encounter lasted 78 minutes.

The result provided a 20th consecutive victory for Matthew against Willstrop in all competitions. It was his third victory this year, following earlier triumphs in the Tournament of Champions in New York and the National Championships in Manchester.

It also provided Matthew with his 23rd PSA tournament victory in 48 finals.

The opening game was a tense affair with prolonged rallies but Matthew produced a strong finish to hit back from 6-5 down to win 11-7.

He threatened to run away with the second as he raced into a 5-1 lead before Willstrop clawed back the deficit with three consecutive points.

Each time Matthew pulled ahead, Willstrop fought back to excite the capacity crowd at the stunning East Wintergarden venue, but again the gritty 31-year-old from Sheffield showed his determination to clinch the 31-minute game 11-8.

Willstrop maintained a narrow lead throughout the majority of the third game but at 9-9 he hit the ball out and on match ball he struck the ball back to himself in mid-court to concede his seventh stroke of the match.

"James has played well and been the best player in the world over the past five or six months so any win over him at the moment has to be earned the hard way.

"We both spent a lot of time on court before reaching the final and maybe that was the reason some of the squash was a bit scrappy at times. But the intensity was always there throughout the match.

“That would have made a great Olympic final. It’s galling to pass the Olympic Stadium every day heading to and from the venue knowing that we are not taking part.

"I’m 31 now and know the end of my career is not too far away. But the hunger is still there and especially for matches like this in such a fantastic venue and in front of crowds like this.

"Canary Wharf is now the home of squash in London the way Wembley used to be in the days of Jahangir Khan."

"I have to take something positive out of that match. I am happy with my game and am enjoying being at number one.

"It’s been an amazing few months with Nick and I swapping over at number one and it’s nice to hear that I can open another bottle of champagne at the end of the month knowing that I will still be number one in April.

"Nick was too good for me today and he has the edge at the moment."

before the final - Squash-a-Mile for Sport Relief

Final PREVIEW from Alan Thatcher                       more on the BLOG

Matthew gets past Reda, Selby and Barker

The final of the Canary Wharf Classic between England’s top seeds Nick Matthew and James Willstrop promises to be one of the highlights of the squash year.

Willstrop takes on Ghosal, Momen and Shorbagy

Their eagerly-anticipated clash on the glass court at the East Wintergarden this evening could provide a career-defining moment for world number one Willstrop if he can put an end to a long losing run against Sheffield’s world champion.

In all competitions, Matthew has won 19 matches in a row (see chart) against his great rival from Leeds.

Near neighbours in Yorkshire they may be, and England team-mates on regular occasions, but they don’t exchange Christmas cards and their extraordinary rivalry is the major talking point of the PSA World Tour.

While Matthew was recovering from a hamstring injury at the end of 2011, Willstrop enjoyed the most successful spell of his career to win World Series tournaments in Hong Kong, Kuwait and Delhi to reach the number one position in the world rankings for the first time in his career in January of this year.

Three in a row for James

When Matthew returned to action, he immediately hit top form to beat Willstrop in the finals of the Tournament of Champions in New York and the National Championships in Manchester.

Two in a row for Nick

Both matches were over in four games, but the time spent on court demonstrates how desperately close they were. The New York final lasted 85 minutes, with Matthew winning 8-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-7, and the Nationals showdown ended after 81 minutes, with Matthew winning 11-8, 11-3, 8-11, 14-12.

Those victories propelled Matthew back to the top of the rankings in February, and the two were seeded to meet in another final when they flew off to compete in the Davenport North American Open in Richmond, Virginia.

Matthew had beaten Ramy Ashour in the two previous finals, but as the week unfolded it was clear that he was not hitting top form.

After struggling past energetic Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez in 92 minutes, he dropped a game against both Olli Tuominen and Simon Rosner before crashing out to Ashour in the semi-finals.

Amazingly, he let slip significant leads in the first two games and was ripped to pieces by Ramy in the third.

Despite the fluency of Willstrop’s 97-minute victory over Gregory Gaultier in the other semi-final, few expected him to be able to withstand Ashour with the Egyptian genius in such hot form.

However, Willstrop delivered a performance of phenomenal quality and discipline to deny his opponent the shot-making opportunities he clearly relishes.

Segments of play at the beginning and the end of the match illustrated his authority over the proceedings.

From the off, he went 5-0 up in the first game with a relentless line and length that pinned Ashour in the back corners. When he offered up anything loose, Willstrop deftly tucked away soft, straight drops and volley-drops.

Towards the end of the match, Ashour was all over the place, failing to scrape shots off the side wall and giving away match ball with a penalty stroke.

Despite having to battle through three enormous matches this week against Saurav Ghosal, Tarek Momen and Mohamed El Shorbagy, shades of that Richmond performance were in evidence last night as he dominated the final game against Shorbagy.

In a mirror-image of that NAO moment, a floated length to the back left corner saw Shorbagy trying and failing to scrape the ball off the glass.

So far this week, both players have averaged match times of around 70 minutes, with Willstrop on court for 210 minutes and Matthew for 218.

No doubt our sell-out audience members will be hoping both players will have the reserves of energy to produce a repeat of their epic semi-final of two years ago, which lasted two hours and seven minutes.

Both players hit peak form at the same time and many observers felt it was one of the best matches in squash history. It was certainly a compelling encounter with a marathon third game tiebreak which Willstrop won 20-18.

Sadly, the match ended with Willstrop lying injured in the back left corner as he dived in vain after a winning shot that took Matthew to match ball.

an epic from 2010

Expect that same corner to be the main target for both players this evening as they seek to pin their opponent behind them and then hunt down any loose balls.

It promises to be another compelling spectacle, for all the right reasons.

Their intense rivalry adds to the drama of the occasion, but our greatest desire is to see two world-class athletes producing their very best squash in front of a full-house crowd in a stunning venue that has witnessed so many great finals in the past nine years.

Source: SquashInfo

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