Willstrop fails to end Matthew jinx in final

PONTEFRACT'S James Willstrop (right) battles it out with Nick Matthew in Friday's Canary Wharf Classic final.
PONTEFRACT'S James Willstrop (right) battles it out with Nick Matthew in Friday's Canary Wharf Classic final.

WORLD champion Nick Matthew recorded his 20th consecutive victory over Pontefract’s James Willstrop to complete a hat-trick of Canary Wharf Classic titles in front of a packed house at the East Wintergarden, Canary Wharf, on Friday.

The Canary Wharf Classic has been a happy hunting ground for world number one Willstrop, who won the inaugural event and two subsequent titles.

Reaching his seventh consecutive world class final, he had to withstand strong challenges from Pontefract teammate Saurav Ghosal and the talented Tarik Momen (Egypt) beating them both 3-2.

In the semi-finals, he recorded an impressive 3-1 win against world number six Mohammed El Shorbagy.

The final was the one everyone in the squash world wanted with the world number one against the world champion. The quality of the squash and the length of the rallies meant it was yet another brutally-fought encounter.

Despite some very close matches, Matthew prevailed 3-0, although the scoreline did not do any justice to Willstrop’s resistance.

After over 80 minutes, Willstrop narrowly lost the third game 11-9, still looking to have plenty to give.

Willstrop said: “I have to take something positive out of this match. I am happy with my game and am enjoying being ranked as the world number one, even though beating Nick is proving tough.”

Early next month, the world tour moves to El Gouna, Egypt, where Willstrop is seeded one.

Not that any draws are easy at world level, but Matthew, Ramy Ashour and Gregory Gaultier are all in the opposite half.

Willstrop’s biography Shot and a Ghost is among the best sellers in the Amazon listings and holds the number one spot in the racket sports division.

He will be carrying out signings in Luton, Stourbridge and at Waterson’s in Wakefield this week.

The Yorkshire over 50 ladies team won the inaugural inter county championship for their age group at Colet’s, Thames Ditton, beating South East Wales, Derbyshire and Surrey all 3-0 and a strong Avon side 2-1 in the final. Julie Nevins won three of her four matches and only lost against Avon after a five-setter in the morning. The team was managed by Gill Choyce.

Feature of last week off the squash court was the exceptional show at Pontefract Town Hall, staged and directed by Kath Smith of the Leydon School of Dancing. The involvement of so many talented singers and dancers of all ages was remarkable.