ISS CANARY WHARF
Title for Lincou at Wharf
Thierry Lincou took control in the fifth game to finally see
off Anthony Ricketts 11-9, 7-10, 11-7, 7-11 11-3 and win the ISS Canary
At the end Anthony Ricketts was able to explain his feeling
going into the match. “I was nervous,” he said. “I knew it would be a big
crowd and I didn’t want to loss in 15 minutes and let everyone down.”
The thought was not in Ricketts mind alone but in everyone else’s. Could he
keep going? It was also in compare Alan Thatcher mind. He gave Ricketts a
little reminder while introducing the match as the players went on court.
“Thierry Lincou has played 112 minutes so far in this tournament, Anthony
Ricketts has played 258 minutes,” he announced.
Those minutes were spent against Simon Parke, Gregory Gaultier, Karim
Darwish in five game matches and there was another one to come against
Lincou at the end was able to say, “I did the job.” He did but it took 85
minutes and it was in doubt until the end.
Perhaps in hindsight Ricketts needed the first where he lost his hard earned
advantage at 5-2 and again at 8-6 with a series of mistakes – they were
going to be his bane all night – and although he saved the first game ball
with a spectacular backhand volley nick of service it was only a temporary
reprieve and Lincou slotted in a winner to take the game 11-9.
Ricketts responded with powerful hitting and volleying to level but again
mistakes cost him in the third and it was his ability to keep chasing the
ball down that allowed him to level again and set up the decider.
Lincou got away to a good start in the fifth, 3-0 and Ricketts responded
with another backhand nick of serve then upped the pace a couple of notches
with a long pressure rally. That was his last hand and he played it.
“It was a mental battle,” explained Lincou. “I won the point. He had finally
Lincou’s shot was a classic forehand straight volley nick, set up beautiful
and played quickly. He now took control of the match, the only time he was
really in control and played beautifully varying the pace on his drives,
floating the ball, controlling the rallies on the volley, working the ball
and his opponent all the time. There was even time for several fine
deceptive winners that had the tired Ricketts going completely the wrong
way. Ricketts tried to respond, hit one of the best shots of the match an
improvised backhand volley nick form a ball played into his body but there
was little left he could threaten Lincou with.
“He doesn’t give you much time to organize yourself,” said Lincou to explain
that only at the end did he have any time on the ball, which gave him the
ability to play deceptive shots. “If you stay in his rhythm you are in
“This is a good win for me. I have been waiting for it. The last tournament
I won was in Pakistan last year. Mentally it is good to win, it will give me
ISS CANARY WHARF
CLASSIC PLAYING SCHEDULE:
Saturday and Sunday, Feb 11-12:
Qualifying at Wimbledon Racquets Club.
Monday 13th Feb: 4 x
last 16 from 5.30pm
Tuesday 14th Feb: 4 x last 16 from 5.30pm
Wednesday 15th Feb: 4 x quarter-finals from 5.30pm
Thursday 16th Feb: 2 x semi-finals from 6pm
Friday 17th Feb: Grand Final from 6pm
Betting at Canary Wharf
Alan Thatcher reports
Anthony Ricketts goes through to the
final with a five set win over Karim Darwish.
Retirement not me! Says Peter Nicol,
Britain's most successful squash player.
Canary Wharf Classic
13 Feb - 17 Feb 2006
 Anthony Ricketts (Aus)
11/6, 8/11, 8/11, 11/7, 11/4 (75m)
[Q] Simon Parke (Eng)
11-8, 4-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-10 (4-2) (106m)
9-11, 11-4, 11-5, 1-11, 11-6 (78m)
 Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
11/2, 11/8, 11/5, (28m)
[Q] Jonathan Kemp (Eng)
 James Willstrop (Eng)
11/9, 11/10(4-2), 11/10(6-4)
Shahid Zaman (Pak)
11-6, 4-11, 10-12,
 Karim Darwish (Egy)
11/8, 11/10(2-0), 11/7 (58m)
Olli Tuominen (Fin)
Ben Garner (Eng)
11/8, 11/8, 11/4 (35m)
 Lee Beachill (Eng)
11-7, 11-7, 11-4 (42m)
[Q] Borja Golan (Esp)
11/8, 11/4, 11/4 (34m)
 Peter Nicol (Eng)
Alex Gough (Wal)
11/3, 11/10(3-1), 11/10(3-1) (49m)
 Nick Matthew (Eng)
11/8, 11/7, 11/2 (37m)
[Q] Peter Barker (Eng)
11/6, 7/11, 11/8, 11/4 (44m)
 Thierry Lincou (Fra)
Peter Barker bt Daryl Selby 11/5, 11/6,
4/11, 11/4 (52m)
Simon Parke bt Alex Stait 11/3, 11/7, 10/11(0-2), 8/11, 11/6 (70m)
Joey Kemp bt Tom Richards 11/10(2-0),
11/8, 11/6 (23m)
Borja Golan bt Joey Barrington 11/4, 11/5, 11/9 (41m)
1st Round Qualifying
Peter Barker bt Sam Miller 11/9, 11/8,
Daryl Selby bt Chris Gordon 11/7, 11/10(2-0), 11/4,
Simon Parke bt Aaron Franckomb 11/3, 11/3, 11/2,
Alex Stait bt Saurav Ghosal 11/5, 11/3, 11/8,
Tom Richards bt Davide Bianchetti 11/2, 10/11(0-2), 11/9, 11/4
Joey Kemp bt Arthur Gaskin 11/8, 11/8, 11/9
Borja Golan bt Laurence Delasaux 11/3, 10/2 retired.
Joey Barrington bt Chris Simpson 11/8, 11/8, 11/4
Nicol down to Lincou
Darwish, had his wish to play his competitive squash at a higher level
fulfilled when he tangled with the top seed Anthony Ricketts in the
semi-finals. He started will in a match full of incident and shots but again
the Australian came through in the fifth. Ricketts who had already spent
three hours on court for his first two matches added another 78 minutes
disposing of Darwish 9-11, 11-4, 11-5, 1-11, 11-6.
Thierry Lincou scored only his second win over Peter Nicol in PSA events
here (before this clash the head to head count was 10-1 in Nicol's favour)
to go through to face Anthony Ricketts in the final of the Canary Wharf
Classic. Lincou won 11-9, 11-10 (3-1), 11-9 in 55 minutes.
After losing the point for point struggle in the first Nicol looked set to
level at 9-6 in the second before Lincou came back with two great winners.
Nicol tinned a boast and that put the Frenchman back in the frame and
although Nicol had a chance at 10-9, he tinned again. Another two fine
winners form Lincou, the second a wrong footing crosscourt drop and again
Nicol tinned and so went his chances.
Lincou stayed ahead in the third while Nicol made an uncharacteristic number
of errors. Perhaps the intimidating speed of old is not quite there, and the
ability to get up for the second and third 'gets' has declined. He would not
agree with that though.
"Yesterday I was good - I' m not that far off - today not so good. He played
well. I wasn't extracting myself from the corners today - just today."
Lincou who lost to Nicol in the British and World Open's had tried to learn
from those experiences and he directed his play more to the left-handed
Nicol's backhand - and he tried to relax and pace himself through the match.
"I tried to play a game where I save my energy and I am efficient. If you
don't do that against him you burn out in the first two games and have
Whether Lincou can pace himself against Ricketts pressure play is a
different question and whether the Australian can apply it consistently
could be the key to the final.
Ricketts takes his time
again with Darwish
The first was a quality game with both player playing
superbly, Ricketts hitting hard and volleying whole successions of shots
while Darwish hit softly, played to the front frequently, and slotting in
two winners form 9-all to take the game 11-9. Ricketts was a little in the
way on the second winners and ended up in a position of disadvantage and was
none to pleased to receive a 'no let.'
"Clueless," he said of the refereeing and added a little
threat. "Now the game is going to turn ugly."
Perhaps that threat was aimed as much at Darwish as the
referee although Darwish was not making the refereeing decisions. It did add
a little psychological edge to the match, which was probably the intention.
Darwish had a poor start to second and was denied two lets
early on, perhaps the referee feeling a precedent had been established
earlier with Ricketts, and he obviously felt hard done by. This seemed to
affect his play, for his motivation wavered throughout the second and third
while Ricketts put in an athletic performance to pick up Darwish's frequent
exploration frontcourt including some fine full swings on the forehand side
that ended in the finest of touch drops.
Ricketts took the initiative 11-4, 11-5 but lost it the
fourth when the Egyptian had a good start and Ricketts for some strange
reason thought he would take him on front court only to set Darwish up for a
whole succession of winners. Ricketts fell behind so far that his commitment
to the game wavered and then vanished. Darwish won in it 11-1.
It was 4-3 in the fifth when Darwish pointed out that
Ricketts had a bleeding knee - which requires a stoppage under the
rules. Ricketts was mined to continue and none to pleased to be stopped in
full flow but left begrudgingly firing a parting shot Darwish's way.
"OK Darwish ... There is one way you can win so don't worry."
Ricketts took some time to reappear with a fine bandage and
proceeded to impose the pressure rallies that had served him so well.
Winners helped him to 8-4 and when Darwish threatened with front court shots
he still had the intimidating speed to go and blast an almost unplayable
kills low across the floor.
A tough rally set up the opportunity to drop, which Ricketts
again planted firmly in the tin and although Darwish was still in contention
a fortunate bounce on a crosscourt and a stroke against the Egyptian gave
him the match.
You can never relax
against him," said Ricketts. "If you do he can run away with the whole match
Ricketts bounces through
Ricketts’s clash with Gregory Gaultier was an intense engrossing affair.
Ricketts called it a ‘point for point’ struggle and asked why he lacked his
dominance in patches he explained it was so close, so intense, that there
were going to be slight lapses.
“It was any ones match,” he said. “We played as well as each other. Any one
could have won.”
Ricketts drove hard and tight and picked his shots in a classic tactical
performance, imposing long rallies in his opponent initially, while Gaultier
staying with him, mixing the pace of his drives between low stinging kill’s
– that Ricketts had to be constantly on his toes to get – and floating
length where he dragged the strings across the ball. Ricketts domination
gave him the first but his imposing length fell apart in the second. It was
almost as if, now he had a game under his belt, he felt he was a shot-maker.
He lost his length, sought of forgot about it, and in a string of errors
lost the second, and all the good work he had done to dominate the match so
far evaporated, in one hand 4-11.
Ricketts was ahead in the third 6-3, after Gaultier had his first clash with
the referee but to great acclaim struck back with some wrong footing
deception that had Ricketts looking like a straight-line roadster that could
not corner to well. Gaultier shots impressed and with a little luck with a
back wall nick on the penultimate ball he took the third 11-8.
Spectators, where left wondering where Ricketts early advantage had gone to
and we can guess intelligently, for the message from his coach would have
been obvious – ‘ get some length – go back to the game you had at the
Ricketts was back onto his game in the fourth, which set up the winning
opportunities to establish a 6-1 lead, fine shots from Gaultier, including
another fortunate back wall nick closed the gap. Ricketts again went back to
basics and imposed a long cruel rally, waiting for the mistake or opening to
be gifted by his opponent and Gaultier finally cracked – just a little -
with a backhand volley drop tinned – and then again unnecessarily with a
backhand drop of service to level the games 11-7.
Gaultier was a little peeved with a harsh ‘no let’ early in the decider and
his fine demeanor - it was as if he has been on an anger management course
and it had been so successful that he had left a tip - got a little narked
with the referee – ‘even you could have got that one’ he said – as Gaultier
got a useful 4-1 lead. The Frenchman however hit a bad patch or errors
forced into them with clinging balls and a miss hit to put Ricketts ahead
7-4. Then in engrossing climatic rallies in which twice Ricketts forced long
grueling rallies on his opponent to prize out the weak ball and then
carefully set up his drops only to bang the ball in the tin.
Ricketts was the first to match ball, well after the ninetieth minute of
combat, but Gaultier was still dangerous and twice he forced his opponent to
scrape and fire a loose ball into he back wall that he could attack. One a
beautiful millimeter perfect boast with a typical flamboyant Gaultier
deceptive flourish. Gaultier leveled and gained his own match ball on a
harsh no let that penalised Ricketts that the referee would not have had
many supporters for. They levelled at 10, 11, and 12 where Gaultier gifted an
unforced backhand drive and then Ricketts took his turn at luck in the back
court to fire for the back wall nick off serve – the ball struck it and
rolled, to much general groaning, some special groaning from Gaultier and
then some perverse laughter.
“I could feel it off the strings,” said Ricketts.
He was right it was anyone’s game. This was a mature performance form
Gaultier – he is still prone to unforced errors and a little self-induced
paranoia in his dealing with the referee, which can be distracting, but he
was strong and threatening throughout this gruelling 105 minute battle and if
he continues in this vein could expect to be one of the two or three players
at the top of the game.
Willstrop Out To Darwish Attack
James Willstrop fell at the end of his point for point battle with Karim
Darwish to give the Egyptian a semi-finals place 11-6, 4-11, 10-12, 11-7,
11-5 over 78 minutes.
Willstrop's shots held sway early on, and he held the initiative after
saving game ball to strike with three winners, including a fine touch
backhand half-volley drop to clinch the third 12-10 but then his challenge
faded. Perhaps he was still feeling that semi-finals against Lee Beahcill
from the Nationals.
"My plan was to move him and I
used boasts and drops - the forehand is my favourite side and I like
attacking with the forehand drop," said Darwish.
Willstrop was impressive at
moving his opponent, dominated the T area, and at plucking the ball of the
side walls on the volley but he lacked an energetic edge - not by much but
he just faded a little.
That is what Darwish was
waiting for, relying on. "He lost energy, that's why I had wanted to move
him," said Darwish.
Willstrop, lead at 6-5 in the
fourth, was caught by a trickle boast - a shot he had trouble reading all
night - and had a heavy tumble, with just an outside chance of running a
dying length backhand down - but conceded it. A miss hit off serve followed
at the resumption, Darwish slotting in another winning forehand drop and at
9-6 had a lead the fading Willstrop was not able to threaten.
From 3-5 in the fifth Darwish
went away to 10-3 in a hand pulling Willstrop short with shots and then
punching dying length drives in that eventually took their toll to win the
fifth convincingly 11-5.
"It is an important win for
me, beating the English No.1 in England," said Darwish. "I want to get up to
the next group of players and establish myself at 4 or 5 in the world. I
have been playing too many small tournaments and now I have to beat these
players in big tournaments and make semi-finals and finals.
Beachill Pays The Price at
It wasn't just James Willstrop
that was jaded at Canary Wharf, Lee Beachill looked as if he had enough of
squash for a while and who could blame him after his epic 105 minutes battle
against Nick Matthew on Sunday. Matthew, the National Champion, did not make
it through to the second round here, Willstrop, who was the top seed in
Manchester, fell to Darwish, and Beachill lost to Nicol 11-7, 11-7, 11-4.
Nicol, may have come out of the Nationals the
best of the four semi-finals. Here he was efficient, moved his opponent and
played consistently to get through. Importantly he got through comfortably
enough - 42 minutes - so he will have something in reserve for Alex Gough or
Thierry Lincou and he has a good record over both
National Stars Progress
At Canary Wharf
Four players returning to
international competition after battling for national honours recorded
impressive victories on the second day of first round action in the ISS
Canary Wharf Squash Classic at East Wintergarden in Canary
Unlike Nick Matthew, who crashed out on Monday after only a 24-hour
break since his British National Championship triumph in Manchester,
runner-up Lee Beachill clearly benefited from his two-day break when
he faced fellow Englishman Ben Garner. The fifth seed from Yorkshire
beat Surrey champion Garner 11-8 11-8 11-4 in 35 minutes â€“ and will now
face fourth seed Peter Nicol, his England team-mate, for a place in
the last four.
Third seed James Willstrop, beaten by Beachill in the British
semi-finals, played what he described
as "probably the worst match I ever played in my life" when he pipped
Pakistan's Shahid Zaman 11-9 11-10 11-10 in 43 minutes.
The 22-year-old from Pontefract will no doubt hope for a better performance
in the quarter-finals against fellow former world junior champion Karim
Darwish, the seventh seed from Egypt.
The contest for the top player in France produced a significant upset at the
weekend when Gregory Gaultier beat the 2005 world number one
Thierry Lincou in the final of the French Nationals in Nimes.
Gaultier, the eighth seed at Canary Wharf, continued his winning ways
with an 11-2 11-8 11-5 defeat of English qualifier Jonathan Kemp in
just 28 minutes.
Second seed Lincou was taken to four games by left-hander Peter Barker,
but ultimately triumphed 11-6 7-11 11-8 11-4 over the English qualifier in
Gaultier will now meet
Australia's top seed Anthony Ricketts, while Lincou takes on unseeded
Welshman Alex Gough in tonight's quarter-finals at London's
Competing in the ISS
Canary Wharf Squash Classic just 24 hours after winning the British
National Championship title for the first time, Nick Matthew
admitted that he was running on empty as he went down to Welsh
warhorse Alex Gough in straight games in the first round of the
five-star PSA Tour event at East Wintergarden in Canary Wharf,
British Champion Matthew
Downed In Docklands
Matthew was unable to reproduce the previous night's heroics in Manchester
where he fought back from 10-6 down to beat title-holder Lee Beachill
in the fifth game of the national final.
"I tried to go on court and enjoy being the national champion," said the
25-year-old from Sheffield. "But I simply didn't have enough energy in the
Gough, 35, took advantage of his opponent's fatigue to win 11-3 11-10 11-10
on the all-glass court at Docklands – gaining revenge for his quarter-final
defeat by Matthew last week in Manchester.
Fellow golden oldie Simon Parke, the 32-year-old former world No3
from Leeds, almost pulled off a surprise against top seed Anthony
Ricketts but could not convert his 2/1 advantage in games against the
Ricketts, the British Open champion from Sydney, beat the Yorkshire
qualifier 11-6 8-11 8-11 11-7 11-4.
England's Peter Nicol, the fourth seed, cruised past Spanish
qualifier Borja Golan 11-8 11-4 11-4, and Egypt's stylish Karim
Darwish was too composed on the glass court for Finland's Olli
Tuominen, winning 11-8 11-10 11-7.
New Champion Matthew Races To Canary Wharf Clash
Just 24 hours after winning
one of the longest and most dramatic British National Championship
finals on record, England international Nick Matthew will be back in
action in tonight's first round of the ISS Canary Wharf Squash Classic
at East Wintergarden in Canary Wharf, London.
Matthew, 25, from Sheffield, saved four match balls to beat England
team-mate Lee Beachill in Sunday's final on the all-glass court at
the National Squash Centre in
to win the title for the
first time. Three-times champion Beachill was celebrating a record sixth
successive appearance in the final.
Sixth seed Matthew faces Welshman Alex Gough, ranked 19 in the world,
in a repeat of their quarter-final clash last week in Manchester.
The $52,500 Canary Wharf event is making its debut on the PSA Tour in
its third year in London's Docklands. The five-star tournament boasts six
of the world's top ten men, headed by Australia's British Open
champion Anthony Ricketts, the world No4 and last year's runner-up,
who faces English qualifier Simon Parke in the first round.
Parke joins fellow Englishmen Peter Barker and Jonathan Kemp
who also survived the qualifying finals on the eve of the event. Spaniard
Borja Golan denied the host country maximum reward from the
qualifiers when he beat England's Joey Barrington 11-4 11-5 11-9.
Golan is drawn to meet former world No1 Peter Nicol, the fourth seed,
in the opening round.
RICKETTS IS RARING TO GET TO THE TOP
Interview by ALAN THATCHER
Anthony Ricketts of Australia is heading for the top. The top seed for next
week’s ISS Canary Wharf Squash Classic, he is almost the finished article,
but is honest enough to know that some parts of his game still need
The world number one slot was in his grasp during December’s Saudi
International. He and Jonathon Power entered the final knowing that whoever
won the match would top the PSA January rankings, but the Canadian maestro
turned on the style to get back to number one for the first time in more
than four years.
British Open champion Ricketts arrives at Canary Wharf full of confidence,
having launched 2006 with an impressive win over compatriot David Palmer to
win the Australian Open in Melbourne.
He also partnered Stewart Boswell to victory in the World Doubles
Championship that followed. Both tournaments were warm-up events for the
forthcoming Commonwealth Games, and Ricketts will be aiming to continue his
run of excellent form as he looks forward to the chance of winning a gold
medal on home soil next month.
Ricketts, last year’s ISS Canary Wharf Classic runner-up to John White in a
breathtaking, all-action final, is aiming to go one better this year.
Ricketts, who is based in Reading for most of the year, has enjoyed a rare
rest during his build-up to Canary Wharf followed by a resumption of his
renowned heavy training programme.
He made a disappointing exit in the quarter-finals in the Chicago tournament
in mid-January and said: “I enjoyed a nice break after the Windy City Open.
The schedule at the end of last year was insane and then it was straight
into the Australian Open and World Open Doubles, then up to North America.
“In Chicago I just did not feel sharp. The travel took its toll and I lost
to Jonathon Power in the quarter-finals. When I got back to Reading I had a
rest and then got some valuable training in and caught up on some important
work I had been missing out on.”
Tickets are available from Ticketmaster on 0870 534 4444. As well as the
normal seating, visitors to the ISS Canary Wharf Classic can also enjoy
top-class corporate hospitality in the Gallery Restaurant, overlooking the
court. Tickets are also available to watch the action from the Gallery VIP
Bar at a small extra cost.
The qualifying competition will be held at Wimbledon Racquets Club on the
weekend of February 11 and 12, before the main draw switches to Canary
I PLAY ON, VOWS NICOL
the most successful British squash player of all time, is putting his
retirement plans on hold. Nicol, 32, is keen to dispel speculation that he
will quit the world tour after the Commonwealth Games in Australia in March.
He says he
is as fit and hungry as ever after his mid-winter break and will continue to
appear as long as he is able to compete at the highest level.
London-based left-hander is looking forward to his third appearance in the
Games as he bids for a third gold medal. In the short-term, however, his
attention is focused on the ISS Canary Wharf Classic from February 13-17. A
co-promoter of this PSA Five Star event, Nicol is keen to get a good
performance under his belt at the superb East Wintergarden venue in London’s
He said: “I
will definitely continue playing after the Commonwealth Games. I am
committed to playing in the Bermuda Open, the European Team Championships
for England, and then it will be my 12th consecutive appearance
in the PSA Super Series Finals in London in May.”
enjoyed a long and deserved rest during the Christmas and New Year period
after a brutal playing schedule at the end of 2005, during which he helped
England to their first World Team Championship title in Pakistan.
In an interview
he said: “I had a fabulous rest with my family back home in Scotland. I ate
well and slept well and managed to recharge my batteries in time to start
training last week. I am feeling good about my fitness and am gearing up for
a successful event at Canary Wharf and then the Commonwealth Games.”
refreshingly candid about his future in the sport and admitted: “I will
carry on playing as long as I can compete. This season I know that when I
have been fully focused and the body has been in good shape then I have been
able to turn in some quality performances in major tournaments.”
that he has a successful future ahead with his steadily developing Eventis
Sports Marketing company, who are co-promoting the ISS Canary Wharf Classic
with Squash UK, but he is clearly keen to delay the moment when he decides
it is time to hang up his famous Prince racket.
Squash Fans Keen to See World
Champion Amr Shabana
London squash fans are looking forward to the chance of seeing world
champion Amr Shabana in action at the 2006 ISS Canary Wharf Squash Classic.
Shabana recently won his second World Open title after a series of majestic
performances in Hong Kong. The stylish left-hander from Cairo beat Canary
Wharf promoter Peter Nicol in the semi-final and overcame Australia’s David
Palmer in the final.
Co-promoter Tim Garner, a partner with Nicol in Eventis Sports Marketing,
flew out to Hong Kong hoping to see his friend reach the final but came away
impressed by Shabana’s dazzling brilliance. Garner said: “Shabana was in
great form in the World Open. He looked very relaxed but focused and saw the
ball better than anyone. It looked like he was in championship winning form
“Amr reached the British Open final in Nottingham last year but hasn’t
always performed as well as he would have liked in the UK. However, he is
clearly in top form at the moment and we are looking forward to seeing his
special brand of attacking play at Canary Wharf in February.”
This season’s tournament is a PSA Five Star event featuring 16 of the
world’s top players and takes place from February 13-17, 2006, with action
on the glass court inside the spectacular East Wintergarden atrium at Canary
Alan Thatcher Reporting
from Canary Wharf
WILTS AT CANARY WHARF
Willstrop disappointed a full-house crowd when he was knocked out of the
quarter-finals of the ISS Canary Wharf Squash Classic by Egypt’s Karim
Darwish. England star Willstrop, from Pontefract, lost 11-6, 4-11, 10-11
(0-2), 11-7, 11-5 in 77 minutes of exciting, attacking squash between two
former world junior champions.
World No.6 Willstrop, 22 years old and 6ft 5in tall, began sluggishly and
allowed the more accurate Egyptian to win the opening game comfortably. But
once Willstrop settled into his stride, he used his astonishing reach to
attack at every opportunity.
He levelled matters with a near-perfect second game and withstood fierce
resistance from Darwish to sneak the third on a tiebreak. But Willstrop
wilted in the fourth as Darwish hit back and the Egyptian took complete
control in the fifth to reach the semi-finals .
Willstrop's Pontefract and England team-mate Lee Beachill followed him out
of the tournament when he lost in straight games to Peter Nicol. Nicol won
11-7, 11-7, 11-4 in 44 minutes of punishing, top-quality squash. Beachill
reached the National Championship final in Manchester last week just a
fortnight after a leg operation and was clearly feeling the effects as Nicol
attacked in ruthless fashion.
Co-promoter Nicol said: "That was a tough match and the tournament schedule
makes a brutal sport even more brutal. Full marks to Lee for his efforts. I
enjoyed the match and just love this court. It allows you to attack you reap
the dividends when you can achive a good length." Beachill had no complaints
and admitted: "I had to work extremely hard
last week and it was obvious that I was still feeling the effects of those
efforts. Peter was playing some excellent squash and he is looking in very
good shape at the moment."
Both players were able to find a dying length on the glass court but Nicol's
precision play was superior on the night. When Beachill's returns were
loose, Nicol then switched the attack to the front corners with devastating
TOP SEED RICKETTS
GIVEN ROUGH RIDE BY FRENCH ACE GAULTIER
TOP seed Anthony Ricketts of Australia was made to battle all the way
by rising French star Gregory Gaultier to reach the semi-finals of the ISS
Canary Wharf Squash Classic.
Ricketts, who is based most of the year in Reading, won 11-8, 4-11, 8-11,
11-7, 11-10 (4-2) in 105 minutes of absorbing and punishing squash.
Gaultier bounced back after losing the opening game to win the second and
third but visibly tired in the fourth as Ricketts tightened up.
In the fifth, Gaultier began firing in audacious winners from the back of
the court to lead 4-1, but a solid recovery from Ricketts took him to 7-4,
9-6 and match ball at 10-7, but Gaultier hit back again to force the decider
to a tiebreak. Incredibly, both players made mistakes on match ball before
Ricketts won the tiebreak 4-2 to clinch a semi-final match against Egyptian
Karim Darwish, the No.7 seed.
No.2 seed Thierry Lincou faces Nicol in the semi-finals after beating Welsh
outsider Alex Gough 11-8, 11-7, 11-2 in 31 minutes.
Historic Canary Wharf
Classic Breakthrough With Bertfair.com
At last, and for the first time, betting on the exchanges
with Betfair.com is available on squash at the ISS Canary Wharf
Classic, with four first round matches being played in the five-star
PSA Tour event tonight (Tuesday).
The matches are  Thierry Lincou (FRA) v [Q] Peter Barker (ENG);  Lee
Beachill (ENG) v Ben Garner (ENG);  James Willstrop (ENG) v Shahid Zaman
(PAK); and  Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v [Q] Jonathan Kemp (ENG).
Leading coach and gambling enthusiast Malcolm Willstrop said:
"Betting, I have said endlessly, is crucial to the development of the
professional game and squash has been, for a long time, one of the few
sports where betting has not been available.
"It was once established through Stan James, but when promised live
television did not appear at the time of the Eye Group, it fell through.
"Happily, Betfair.com have taken on squash and let no-one doubt how
significant this is in the sport’s history.
"Betfair have also come on board at a time when the professional game is
producing wonderful sporting entertainment and is wide open.
"Thanks to Betfair, and my advice to the squash public and the betting
public is simple: Get punting and show Betfair that their confidence in the
sport is well-based."