Nick Matthew (Eng)
bt  Peter Barker (Eng)
8/11, 11/7, 11/5, 9/11, 11/3 (94m)
 James Willstrop (Eng) bt  Mohamed El Shorbagy
11/6, 8/11, 11/5, 11/5 (61m)
more from Alan on
English rivals Matthew and
to clash in Canary Wharf final
Alan Thatcher reports
Bitter rivals Nick Matthew and James Willstrop
will clash in the final of the Canary Wharf Classic after
negotiating physically challenging hurdles in the semi-finals.
In two pulsating semi-finals before a sell-out crowd at the East
Wintergarden venue, Matthew took 83 minutes to overcome England
team-mate Peter Barker, the number three seed.
Willstrop then withstood a ferocious onslaught from hard-hitting
Egyptian Mohamed El Shorbagy before winning 3-1 in 61
minutes, his shortest match of the week after two brutal battles
against Saurav Ghosal and Tarek Momen.
a repeat of last year's final, Matthew started slowly against a
determined Barker but fought back to gain control of the match
after losing the opening game.
He quickly built a substantial lead in the second game but from
7-1 up he had to withstand a sustained fightback from Barker
before drawing level.
He stayed in front throughout the third but Barker launched
another massive onslaught in the fourth to win it 11-9.
The crowd were willing the Essex player to maintain that form in
the fifth but Matthew showed class and composure to power ahead
from 3-3 to win the match without dropping another point.
are very fine lines between winning and losing and Peter came
out strongly in the first game, like he always does.
He did the same in last year's final and I was very pleased and
relieved to get through.
“After beating the two local favourites on consecutive days
[Daryl Selby yesterday and Peter today] I hope the crowd will
give me a bit more support in the final.”
began solidly against a nervous-looking opponent. Shorbagy, the
21-year-old world number eight from Alexandria, struggled to
find his rhythm but after losing the first game he stepped up a
gear to win the second.
He mixed powerful drives and volleys with some adventurous
angles and a creative touch at the front of the court.
Willstrop then stamped his authority on the match, imposing a
disciplined framework that eventually strangled Shorbagy’s
attacking opportunities after some phenomenal rallies requiring
immense physical commitment.
The Leeds-based Willstrop, who has won three Canary Wharf
titles, controlled the third and fourth games and moved to match
ball with a floated length that Shorbagy failed to scrape off
That one shot illustrated Willstrop’s dominance as he advanced
to his fifth Canary Wharf final.
has so many different ways of attacking you. He has won two
World Junior Open titles and has moved into the top eight in the
world, which shows how quickly he has adapted to the playing at
the highest level.
“I am delighted to be in the final and have clocked up many
hours and miles on court this week.”
Willstrop’s day had begun with a
BBC Radio Four interview
on the Today programme, where he spoke about his
recently-published book, Shot And A Ghost, and squash’s bid for
a place in the 2020 Olympics.
like these, in a fantastic venue and with capacity crowds all
week, showcase what a brilliant product we have, one which is
absolutely perfect for the Olympic Games.
“The improvements in the TV production are superb, and it is
bitterly disappointing that we are not to be involved in the
2012 or 2016 Games.
“Our tournament hotel is in Stratford, right next to the Olympic
Park, and that makes it even more galling for us.
“But we will keep plugging away and I sense a groundswell of
optimism that squash will finally win a deserved place in the
meet again ...
World champion Matthew and world number one Willstrop will meet
for the third time this year – all of them finals - with Matthew
winning both marathon encounters in New York and Manchester.
Matthew holds an astonishing psychological advantage, having won
their last 19 matches. Willstrop’s last victory was in the 2007
final of the English Open in Matthew’s home city of Sheffield.
Willstrop said: “Everyone knows about the rivalry and if it
gains media coverage for the sport then it is a good thing. Nick
and I have an enormous respect for each other but he has enjoyed
a long winning run and I want to do something about that in the
the B I G Canary Wharf
AS IT HAPPENED...
"Peter was the better player
tonight, I got a bit lucky in the end" stated Nick at the
end of the match. Well, I wouldn't go that far Nick, but it is
true that Peter played like a man on a mission. I've noticed
that often, players coming back from injury are just so hungry,
so happy to be able to play again.
I've seen it with Nick and
Greg in particular. And Peter well, a bit match short, probably
lacked a bit of energy in the 5th, but I wouldn't be surprised if
we would to see a great season from the Londoner...
About the match, well, it was a brutal match, played by two
respectful players, but that didn't give each other anything for
Every point was a battle. It was about attacking and a lot
of retrieving, and making the court as big as possible for the
other. First game, rallies were very long, then the ball soften,
and rallies only came back on the lengthy side in the 4th - both
first and fourth both won by Peter...
The fifth, like I said, was a clinical display from the World
Champion, Peter lacked a bit of oumfp like I said, but I'm proud
that Peter didn't lose his focus tonight at all, kept it zipped,
didn't get into arguments with the ref. That's excellent news...
"I'm relieved", said Nick at the end. You bet.
Now, for James v Baggy... The Egyptian had to take James
out of his comfort zone, and couldn't do it well enough. He did
push the world number one in the second, but James never panicked,
and kept on with the patience, the accuracy, and the stunning
Mohamed, too often, couldn't find his length,
offering James some lovely shots to attack...
James showed tonight why he is at the top of the game tonight,
controlling and absorbing one of the most talented coming up
players of the moment.
But Mohamed is improving, he is not far
off. Let's bring the top English Boys tomorrow...
Will you be
watching? We'll certainly will.