TODAY at the ISS Canary Wharf Squash Classic
Fri 27th March, Final:

[4] David Palmer (Aus) bt [3] James Willstrop (Eng)
         11/9, 12/10, 8/11, 11/7 (65m)

Palmer dethrones Willstrop
to take Classic title

Defending champion James Willstrop had the Canary Wharf Classic title prized from his grasp by David Palmer in front of a packed crowd at the East Wintergarden venue tonight, but not without a fight.

The Australian took the first, then held on to take the second on extra points for a crucial two-game lead. At 6/1 in the third it looked all over for Willstrop, but as he has done all week, he dug in and started to come back.

The Yorkshireman took the third, and led 4/1 in the fourth before Palmer regained control of the match to take the title for the first time, the 25th PSA title of his career.

Alan Thatcher's CW Blog


Framboise reports

My money for some reason was on James tonight. I thought that the crowd and his determination would carry him through David’s hurdle. But what I forgot is that David is first and foremost The Marine.

In front of an audience quite rightly supporting their man, Dig In James, David played probably one of the best matches of his life. What the Australian produced tonight was nothing short of brilliant in all departments of the game, but five things in my view gave him the edge tonight.

1. The tightness of his straight drives was astonishing. Even from unbalanced positions, or when James was putting him under enormous pressure, he would find the perfect glued to the wall drive.

2. His ability to read James’ shots once again and move to the right position before he had played the ball, like he did with Greg, which probably comes from him spending an awful lot of time watching them play, studying what they do, how do they do it, and when.

3. His defensive backhand lob that got him out of so much trouble, and also became a weapon as its height and width was very often close to perfection.

4. His counterattacking put a James sometimes a bit slow to move – we all know why, tiredness and injury – under far too much pressure, and forced him to spend the very little energy he had left.

5. And last but not least, his volleying that was probably the best I ever saw him cut the ball with. He was on fire in that department, normally his best shot, but tonight, he took it to a level that I honestly never saw anybody else play.

From the first rally, we could see that James was not moving as fast as he normally does. He got better as the match advanced, carried by his pride and will to not fail, but to beat David tonight, he should have been at his utmost best. That, he was not.

At 6/1 in the third David relaxed, and got punished, losing that game, and we thought that the Englishman was going to reiterate his exploit of the previous day. At 6/6 in the fourth, the Australian got tired. Very tired. I could see in his eyes and body language that he needed that game desperately.

And James served out.

That was the end really. It took three points for the Englishman to get over what just happened. He pushed David to do a last tin to save a match ball, but soon enough had to shake the winner’s hand.
What David has accomplished this week is astonishing. What James has done is no rubbish either. God I love my players… 

"Congratulations to David, he was just too good tonight.

Right now, I’m pretty disappointed, the way I played at the start, and what was that serve out, what was that!!!! I just had Malcolm and Peter trying to cheer me up in my corner there, telling me that I have a lot of things this week to be happy about. And they are right of course, if somebody would have told me that I would come back from 2/0 down after losing the second 11/1 against Borja, and 2/1 down from Shabana to get to the final, I probably would have taken it, still, it’s very frustrating..

"Tonight was basically just a bit too much I think. When I found myself down 2/0 I thought, I don’t want to do that again, that’s maybe the first time in my career I thought that. And even without believing in myself, I did half the job anyway, which I guess I should be happy about.

"I didn’t play strong enough the crucial parts in the first two games, and at the end of the second, well, that was pretty awful.

But what really gets me, what’s making it unbearable is when I served out at 6/6. If I’m not able to just make a simple serve, what am I doing here???? I don’t mind losing when it’s a close match, and that I’m doing my best, but losing like that, what an awful way to lose. Frustrating, so so frustrating… Ridiculous, just ridiculous.

And I was nearly there you know, 6/6… And if I'd got the fourth….

"I’m just happy, it was a big move to Boston 18 months ago, the family is happy, but my squash has taken a little step back, I had to change my training regime, no Shawn to train with, but as you’ve seen, I still like the battle..

"James is too modest, I was saying to Peter that if we get into the Olympics it will be because of players like him, he never makes excuses, what a professional, and a great player. We are two big guys, we always give our best, and always have great matches…

"And tonight, what an epic battle again tonight, at 6/1 in the third, I thought I had him, and I thought, oh my God, here we go again, and I had to spur myself on… And in the end, I was running out of gas, and I was pretty relieved I won that last point!!!

"I know that the crowd was not behind me, but as I was on my own tonight, normally I would have Shawn, or my trainer Pat, or my wife, so when I was hearing the crowd cheering, I was using a little mental trick, imagining that they were actually cheering my name! Well, I’m a bit jealous, I never get to play in front of my home crowd…

"We are living a very exciting period, I wish I was 22, not 32, but I’ll try and hang on a bit longer…

Pretty glad to get my 25th title here, and next year, I’ll be coming back…"

"I would like to congratulate David for his phenomenal achievement tonight, and James for his fantastic week.

"I also want to thank the crowd for showing up and proving that squash is a vibrant, successful sport, and also a big thank you to the players, 8 of the top 10 showed up this year. Squash players are amazing you know, and that’s one of the reasons we should be in the Olympics…

"And of course, an enormous thank you to Jimmy and ISS, for supporting us this year again, and as you may have heard, for signing a further two year agreement. We’ll try to get an even better event for you next year…"


"As you can see, I’m not a squash player or anything, but if you want to learn about the Trade, then I would be able to teach you a little thing or two!

"Just wanted to congratulate David for his fantastic comeback yesterday and his win today…"