TODAY at the ISS Canary Wharf Squash Classic
Fri 23rd March, FINAL:

[4] James Willstrop (Eng) bt [5] John White (Sco)
      8/11, 11/5, 11/13, 11/1, 11/2 (71m)

Willstrop's second CW title

James Willstrop became the first player to win the Canary Wharf Classic title twice, beating John White in an amazing match that saw White push the British National champion to the limit before finally succumbing to fatigue in his fourth successive five-game encounter.

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James gets there in the end ...

The final pitched the 2004 and 2005 Canary Wharf Champions in a rematch of their National Championships final of last month, although this would be their first PSA meeting for two and a half years (the last being a memorable 3-2 thriller at the Crucible).

Conventional wisdom had it that White, with three five-setters in his legs, would come out firing and try to blitz through the match as only he can.

It wasn't quite like that. The match started with some patient rallies, no sign of an attacking blitz yet. That might have been James' game plan of course, but not many thought it would be John's. The winners came though, as John found enough opportunities to put the ball away, mainly from deep, as he stayed a couple of points ahead before drawing away to 10/6. James got a couple of points back, but John took it 11/9 after 12 minutes.

There were slight signs at the end of the first of John feeling the pace, and definite ones in the second. James quickly went 5/1 up, lost a little concentration when a rally he'd won was taken away for a pickup earlier in the rally, but soon got back in the groove and ran out 11/5 winner, 12 minutes again.

The rallies were becoming shorter now, and in the third we began to see the mad, frantic, scrambling, every-shot-an-attempted-winner rallies that everyone hoped for from these two. And it was John who was getting the better of them. A particularly brutal rally - for both of them - saw John lead 4/1. A few winners a few tins, 8/4 to John. Both scrambling like mad, James is on the floor, John tins a sitter 8/5. A long rally , both running hard, John's in pain still wins it 10/8. James wins the next three with John diving into the back corner in vain back comes John with three winners and the game is - amazingly - his.

He couldn't have much left in the tank, surely. And sure enough, he didn't. James went quickly to 7/1 in the fourth, then engaged John in a long rally where James refused to hit a winner and John eventually decided in mid-rally he'd had enough and stopped running. 11/1 to James in six minutes.

One last chance for John, you thought. A quick blitz at the start and hang on. Could he do it?

No. He picked up a couple of strokes at the start of the game, but that was all he got as James kept the pressure on, kept John moving, and accepted the inevitable mistakes. John went full length into the corners, as he always does, but the game and the title was only going one way as James won his second Canary Wharf title.

A fantastic result for James, a tremendous effort from John, who emulates last year's runner-up Anthony Ricketts in finding four five-setters just one game too many.

"That is the most contained squash I've ever had to play. He played so well - out of his head - and he was too good for me on the day really, I just had no answer to what he was doing and had to just hang in and wear him down.

"I don't know how he did it after three 3/2s before tonight, it was just so hard to mentally break him down.

"I wanted to make it tough for him, I knew he'd be tired, but I wanted to go short too and I just didn't find any chances to do that.

"It's such a brilliant tournament, I've really been targeting on wanting to win this one. The organization, the crowd, the venue, everything is really great, just perfect really so I'm so pleased and relieved to have won it."

"I knew that I had two good games in me, so I thought if I can scrape the first then let the second fly we could see from there. I didn't start out all attack, I wanted to make him work too, he's had some hard matches even if not as many games as me.

"I felt fine in the third at 10/7, but the next six or seven rallies just took everything out of me. After all the games I've had it only takes three or four hard rallied on the trot to leave me drained.

"So I threw the fourth to see how much I had left for the fifth, but he was getting everything back and at times he was just hitting the ball back to me, then making me go short and long. Last night against Thierry I was putting the pressure on him but at the end tonight I just couldn't do that. I was still trying things in the fourth and fifth but it was just squirting out or hitting the tin.

"But I've enjoyed the week, enjoyed all the matches and I'm pleased with how I've played and to do it four days in a row is a great feeling.

Hit the Bucket !!!   Two lucky winners take home a racket each ...