Willstrop on top of the World
Willstrop, the first winner of the Canary Wharf Classic in
2004, returns this year as world number one for the first time
in his career.
London’s premier squash tournament takes place from March
19-23 and Willstrop is looking forward to continuing his
recent spectacular run of form as he bids for a fourth title at
the East Wintergarden.
Triumphs in Hong Kong, Kuwait and Delhi propelled him to the top
of the PSA rankings ahead of England’s world champion Nick
Matthew, the reigning Canary Wharf champion.
Should they remain at one and two in the world rankings next
month, the two Yorkshiremen are likely to be seeded to meet each
other in this year’s Canary Wharf final.
epic semi-final two years ago
was rated by many as one of the greatest matches in squash
history, with Matthew triumphing in a marathon battle full of
high-quality and physically punishing squash.
Willstrop recalled: “That match against Nick was a very special
piece of sport from both of us. The match lasted more than two
hours and I felt we were both playing well all the way through.
Whatever happens in your life you never forget those moments.”
contest finished with Willstrop lying injured in the back corner
of the court but, with three tournament wins to his credit, he
has nothing but happy memories of competing in a tournament that
he rates as the premier event on the world tour.
Willstrop, 28, said: “I love coming to Canary Wharf. It is a
brilliant event and definitely the best tournament on the tour.
I love coming to London as well and I am looking forward to it.
The tournament has given me some of my fondest memories over the
a 21-year-old, Willstrop won the very first Canary Wharf title
in 2004 in a ground-breaking tournament featuring par-nine
scoring and a best-of-seven games contest in the final against
He also won the 2007 final against John White and followed that
up the next year by beating Australian Cameron Pilley. He
reached a third consecutive final in 2009 but, suffering from
injury, he lost 3-1 to David Palmer.
says he is learning how to be more ruthless on court, aiming to
win matches quickly in the early rounds to make sure he
preserves energy for the bigger battles that lie ahead.
He said: “It helps if you are playing better squash. If you can
win 3-0 you spend less time on court. You preserve your body and
your energy levels. I used to be a bit freer with attacking
play, which got me into trouble. There is now more maturity in
my game and it comes from years of understanding the game’s
“Reaching number one is an incredibly hard thing to do reaching
and winning in Delhi, in front of family and friends, and all of
the people who had helped me to get there, was very special. It
was the best day of my life.”
Tickets for the 2012 Canary Wharf Classic cost from £15 and are
selling out fast ... BUY
The Best View
The fabulous East Wintergarden offers superb
opportunities for corporate hospitality, with the gallery
restaurant offering “the best view of squash anywhere in the
world” according to Peter Nicol.
The qualifying competition takes place at Wimbledon Racquets
and Fitness Club on March 17-18 with four winners joining
the top 12 seeds in the main draw action on the glass court at