Barrington Bursts Into Canary Wharf Classic Quarters

11 Mar 08

Unseeded Englishman Joey Barrington produced the first upset on the opening day of action in the ISS Canary Wharf Classic when he despatched Finland's fifth seed Olli Tuominen in a brutal first round battle in the 5-star PSA Tour squash event in its fifth year at East Wintergarden in Canary Wharf, London.

The 28-year-old from Glastonbury in Somerset played a solid tactical game against the world No16 from Helsinki, concentrating on keeping the ball tight down the backhand wall of the all-glass court at East Wintergarden. A simmering contest was littered with stoppages caused by bodily contact and both players seemed constantly on the brink of stepping across the boundaries of acceptable physical behaviour.

Ultimately, the quality and accuracy of Barrington's disciplined approach paid dividends as the son of squash legend Jonah Barrington clinched his 11-6, 6-11, 11-10 (2-0), 11-8 victory in 68 minutes to book a place in the last eight against fellow countryman Lee Beachill.

Yorkshireman Beachill, the third seed, overcame some fierce resistance from fellow Englishman Chris Ryder in an earlier first round clash. Qualifier Ryder, the Herts No1 who is based at Wolverhampton, gave as good as he got for much of the match but Beachill's quality shone through when it mattered most.

The first game was level pegging until Beachill turned the screw and stepped up his game. Ryder competed willingly in some long and punishing rallies during the second game but it was usually Beachill who had the final say. The pattern continued in the third and former world No1 Beachill concluded a comfortable 11-8, 11-4, 11-5 victory in 37 minutes.

Ryder admitted the transition from club courts to the glass court at Canary Wharf was a tough one to make. "It's a big step up from playing on tradition plaster courts for two days in qualifying to playing on the glass court," said the reigning World University champion. "It takes a while to get your line and length and someone like Lee is one of the best in the world in that department."

Beachill said: "I am happy to be back on court so soon after my recent operation and making the final of the National Championships in Manchester was a real bonus. My long-term plan is to keep the body in good shape and to continue challenging the younger guys for as long as I can. I'm not worried about being world No1 again but as long as I'm playing well and competing then I shall be more than happy. But I shall definitely not be playing when I'm 37 years old like Goughy. That's just crazy!"

In the opening match of the day, teenage squash sensation Mohamed El Shorbagy produced an electric performance to rattle sixth seed Alex Gough. The 17-year-old Egyptian fought back from two games down to take the game to a fifth - but the Welsh veteran regained control to clinch victory after 67 minutes.

Shorbagy began in nervous fashion and the 20-year age-gap was evident as the vastly experienced Welshman forced his young opponent into a string of errors.

Shorbagy suddenly shed his nerves and began to find a rhythm. He maintained his composure to win the third game despite a brief hold-up when the court lighting failed. The Egyptian's confidence was soaring and he powered his way through the fourth game with a succession of dazzling winners.

The crowd were willing him to continue in that vein but the lights went out on his bid to cause a shock result as Gough regained control in the fifth game, wrapping it up 11-5 as a tired looking Shorbagy struck the tin too many times.

A relieved Gough said: "He is a future world champion for sure. I have played him before, so I knew what to expect. He's got phenomenal talent and he's also got a lot of guts, and that's the main thing."

Shorbagy, a student at Millfield School in Somerset, revealed that his coach, squash legend Jonah Barrington, had offered him some sound advice earlier in the day. He said: "He told me not to play junior squash and I was very happy with how I played against such a very experienced opponent as Alex. He is a fine player and I am very happy with how I played on the glass court. This is a fantastic experience for me and I am sure I can learn a lot from it."

Reigning Canary Wharf champion James Willstrop played with all the flair, composure and confidence of a man on top of his game. The second-seeded Englishman looked relaxed and enjoying his work as he dealt solidly with the challenge posed by determined Hungarian qualifier Mark Krajcsak to win in straight games.

Krajcsak started strongly and led 5-1 in the opening game before the Yorkshireman began to impose his authority and won 10 of the next 11 points. Krajcsak again led 4-2 in the second before Willstrop took control.

The England number one's flair and love of the adventurous was evident as he delighted the crowd with his shot-making in the third game, but Krajcsak refused to roll over and put together a run of five points to lead 9-5. However, he was not allowed another entry into the scorebook as Willstrop tightened up, regained control and reeled off six points in a row, winning several points with outrageous flicks and feints that were beyond the reach of the diving, acrobatic Krajcsak.

Willstrop said: "I am very happy with the way I am playing at the moment. Winning four important tournaments in such a short space of time is a wonderful feeling.

"This is certainly the best phase of my career and I hope it continues for the next few days."

Krajcsak said: "It is always a pleasure to play guys like James. He is such a fantastic player. I had a tough match yesterday in the qualifying final and someone like James makes you work incredibly hard to try to stay in the game."

1st round results:
Joey Barrington (ENG) bt [5] Olli Tuominen (FIN) 11-6, 6-11, 11-10 (2-0), 11-8 (68m)
[3] Lee Beachill (ENG) bt [Q] Chris Ryder (ENG) 11-8, 11-4, 11-5 (37m)
[6] Alex Gough (WAL) bt [Q] Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) 11-5, 11-8, 4-11, 3-11, 11-5 (67m)
[2] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [Q] Mark Krajcsak (HUN) 11-6, 11-7, 11-9 (30m)