TODAY at the Canary Wharf Classic
Thursday 24th March, Semi-Finals:
Barker (Eng) bt  James Willstrop (Eng)
14/16, 11/1, 11/7, 11/8 (77m)
 Nick Matthew (Eng) bt  Grégory Gaultier (Fra)
8/11, 11/5 rtd (31m)
Matthew and Barker in all-English final
The packed crowd at Canary Wharf's
East Wintergarden witnesses one tremendous semi-final as
Peter Barker finally secured his first-ever PSA victory over
England teammate James Willstrop, then had what was
shaping up to be another tremendous match snatched away from
them when Gregory Gaultier was forced to pull out through
illness at one game all against Nick Matthew in their
2010 final rematch.
It was shaping up to be some match, this repeat of last year's
France's Gregory Gaultier was in great form in the first
game - "he made me feel pretty ordinary out there," admitted
defending champion and world number one Nick Matthew -
and the second was delicately poised at 5-all.
But then something looked to happen to Gaultier, he looked
lethargic at times, essentially let the rest of the game though,
and unsurprisingly didn't come out for the third ...
What Happened ?
Fram reports, Steve on the Shutter, Alan on the Blog
Matthew's Pain Game
this is going to hurt ...
reports on the Blog
Barker (Eng) bt  James Willstrop
14/16, 11/1, 11/7, 11/8 (77m)
AGAIN, I KNOW SQUAT ABOUT SQUASH…
It all started brilliantly for James, who found nicks and
stunning lengths in most of the rallies in the first game. And
it’s all to his credit, because Pete was playing out of his
skin, finding great width – you need it to avoid Jimbo’s reach
and volleying – and playing lovely aggressive and positive
squash from the word go.
James was nicely ahead 9/6, but Pete’s game just got amazingly
accurate, and he was the one who got a first game ball at 10/9.
Five game balls for Pete later, here we are still in the first,
but it’s James who finally clinched the 30m game, 16/14 on his
second game ball, to Pete’s disgust and frustration, smashing
his racket on his leg.
And that’s where I start going the wrong way. When James came
back, he looked a changed man, where his movement was fluid and
fast in the first game, it became laboured and somehow painful.
To the point I thought he was in pain, and was experiencing an
injury on his left side. And from that point on, I was sure in
my mind that James was not physically fit.
The 11/1 score in the second confirmed my feeling, especially
when I saw James disappearing for what looked like a loo break –
which he confirmed later as being one!
Right on time Jimbo came back on court, looking more positive
and taking a good start in the third, 2/0 and 3/1. Peter, a bit
defensive, still equalised 4/4, but soon made a few errors to
give the lead back to James, 7/5. But again, James looked to be
struggling with his reach and movement, and never score another
point in the game.
the fourth, Peter looked more and more confident, but yet, not
completely relaxed. He was playing so well, but still very wary
of James’ attacks. Jimbo was again looking poor movement-wise,
but was attacking all he could while pushing Peter to the back.
1/1. 2/2. 3/3. 4/4. Peter found a nice momentum, 8/5, I never
saw him play that well. James, as he normally does, clawed back,
8/8. The crowd was so enjoying this. A massive rally, where the
match was being decided really, with James in control at the
end, but just clipped the tin with the last shot!
A very quick rally, won by Peter rather easily, match ball. And
again rather quickly, a James who just played the ball straight
back to himself ... stroke.
Mummy Barker burst into tears, Dad was ecstatic, and Peter was
quietly smiling, relieved, while James, with a large smile,
embraced his team mate, congratulating him for a “long time
No Fram, I was not
in trouble in any particular area. He was making me work too
hard, maybe he was exposing my movement. I personally couldn’t
see that my movement was weak in any particular area or
I maybe looked a bit ragged because his pressure was too
strong!! He played relentlessly … A very hard and very solid
had a game plan tonight, but I have had a game plan against
James since I was 10, and I'm very pleased that it finally paid
off! Even during the juniors, I never managed to beat him, so
it’s been long time coming.
Well, you’ve seen James' reaction after the match, his smile to
me, his attitude, it’s all credit to him, that shows how a great
guy he is. Well, not that nice, as he could have let me win
before! I knew I would need to work very hard to beat him.
it or not, I was supposed to go to Paris tomorrow with my
girlfriend, and now, my girlfriend is going to go on her own
with her mum for her mother’s 60th birthday! It’s a shame to
miss out on a lovely trip to Paris, but that’s what we are
training for, to get to the final of events!!!
Ah, and I want to apologise, when I hit my leg with my racquet,
it was a mixture between adrenalin and stupidity.
My first game was really poor mentally, but I didn’t get
overexcited, like I did in Richmond. Today, I looked at my game
against James there, I took the first game, and after that,
completely lost focus on what I did that got me there. So I
looked, learned from my mistakes, and after the first game
today, I stayed calm.
The second game was probably the best squash I ever played. The
third and fourth were very hard, as they would be, with James
keeping coming back, and then, he got a bit tired…
Matthew (Eng) bt  Grégory Gaultier
8/11, 11/5 rtd (31m)
When Greg came into the press room earlier today, he was wearing
his hood, which is not like Greg, but, to be honest, I didn’t
pay much attention. He was quiet though, very quiet, and
something weird I noticed was, when he came to watch James and
Pete’s match, and sat next to me, he was not listening to his
normal music to concentrate and isolate himself from the crowd.
As he started playing against Nick, I forgot about it all, as it
was Nick who looked a bit nervous and unsteady. Greg seemed
relaxed, too relaxed maybe. He was not pushing the pace up, as
he can do normally, but still, was moving well, and made very
few errors. As for Nick, he made six unforced errors, just in
that first game.
But as the second game started, Greg was going for shots very
early, wouldn’t move much and really looked injured. I thought
that maybe his adductor was playing up again and playing on his
mind. But at the end of it, I saw him sitting in his corner,
head heavily in this towel, looking poorly.
As the ref announced time, Greg disappeared behind the screen
and obviously something was wrong. John Massarella, match ref,
came and asked if Greg could continue with the match, or
concede. Greg, clearly unable to answer, was logically informed
that he had in fact conceded the game.
A nice lady doctor came, checked Greg over, and it was decided
that an ambulance would be called. The three paramedics arrived
shortly after being called, checked Greg’s physical state, and
made a few tests. It was decided he didn't need to go to
hospital, so is returning to the hotel to rest.
felt poorly this morning when I woke up, chills, massive
headache, pains and aches in the whole body. I just felt sick
and poorly. I tried to sleep, but couldn’t.
I just couldn’t warm up for the game, my head was pounding, it
felt like the ball was bouncing on my head! I shouldn’t have got
on court probably, but I worked so hard to come back from that
injury… It’s so unfair…
“Nobody likes to win a match
like that. Apparently Greg was up all night feeling unwell so I
find it amazing that he started the match playing such great
squash. He made me look very average at times.
“At the moment I can’t begin to think about the final because my
thoughts are with Greg. I just hope he’s OK.”