The Canary Wharf Squash Classic kicks off again tomorrow and once more boasts a strong line-up. Most Notably, the tournament has attracted the world number 1 and 2, James Willstrop and Nick Matthew, who are seeded to meet in the final. The pair last met in Canary Wharf in 2010 in what was one of the greatest matches of recent years, lasting over 2 hours and ending in Willstrop retiring with cramp. Willstrop has not since managed to push Matthew much harder than he did that night, let alone record a win against Matthew, however has got himself in the shape and form of his life, enough so to carry him to the world number 1 spot. Furthermore, if the tall Yorkshireman can re-create a performance of the calibre he produced to silence Ramy Ashour 3-0 in the North American Open final then he stands a good chance of ending his poor run against Matthew should they meet in the final.
The apparent differentiating factor between the two Yorkshiremen has been physicality. Most of Matthew’s victories have come as a result of using his superiority in this department, by taking the ball early on the volley, putting Willstrop under sustained pressure. When Nick is at his best he typically sets out to lengthen the rallies, and this has paid dividends in the latter stages of matches where Willstrop has struggled to clear the ball and conceded a few too many strokes.
Should they both reach the final this will be a fascinating match given Willstrop’s recent ascendancy, which seems to have been built on an improvement in his movement and strength. Also, don’t forget there has been a good break since the last major tournament.
Matthew vs. Barker or Rosner – Matthew should have too much for Selby but picking apart Barker and Rosner is difficult. The Englishman might have the slight edge playing infront of his local crowd.
Willstrop vs. El Shorbagy – Both would be expected to reach the semi-finals on current form, but look out for Adrian Grant along the way.
As always this promises to be another great tournament hosted in an impressive location in between the sky scrapers of Canary wharf, with the level of competition on offer sure to reach great heights. Tickets are mostly sold out for the latter stages but are still available for the first two days. Otherwise, you can enjoy the tournament on psasquashtv.