12:33 pm
21 Apr 2024

Willstrop & Pilley To Contest Canary Wharf Classic Climax

14 Mar 2008

England's second seed James Willstrop will take on surprise opponent Cameron Pilley, the No7 seed from Australia, in the final of the ISS Canary Wharf Classic after both players survived tough semi-finals in the 5-star PSA Tour squash event before a packed crowd at East Wintergarden in Canary Wharf, London.

Reigning champion Willstrop reached his third Canary Wharf final by beating his Pontefract and England team-mate Lee Beachill. The world No4 was made to battle hard for his win as Beachill's trademark precision play contained his opponent's attacking flair.

Willstrop edged home in the first game but former world No1 Beachill imposed himself in the second to draw level. However, Willstrop at last began to play with a flourish in the third and a capacity crowd at the stylish East Wintergarden venue was treated to a superb contest as Beachill tried his hardest to stem the flow of winners.

The 24-year-old Leeds-based Yorkshireman survived a concerted fight-back from 30-year-old Beachill to complete his 11-8, 8-11, 11-5, 11-9 victory in 58 minutes, bringing the crowd to their feet with a dazzling winner at the conclusion of a marathon final rally.

Willstrop has reached the final of all six tournaments he has entered this year, winning four of them - including the British National crown - so far. Few will bet against him adding to that tally - and clinching a hat-trick of Canary Wharf crowns, after winning in 2004 and 2007.

Australian Cameron Pilley ended hopes of an all-English final when he beat England's giant-killer Alister Walker.

World No32 Walker had upset two Frenchmen on his way to the semi-finals, including a shock victory over No1 seed Gregory Gaultier.

But the 25-year-old from Leeds found world No20 Pilley in dominant form. The 6ft 2in tall Australian powered through the first game 11-1 - remarkably his fourth 11-1 game win in the tournament - and led 10-5 in the second before the dreadlocked Walker clawed his way back to force a tiebreak.

However, Walker was unable to maintain the momentum and Pilley claimed the next two points to lead two games to love.

Walker started brightly in the third but soon began to tire as Pilley quickly advanced to an 8-4 lead. Walker's exhaustion and frustration showed as he hit two volleys into the floor.

Pilley maintained his discipline and continued to strike the ball with power and accuracy to win 11-1, 11-10 (2-0), 11-5 and claim his place in the final against Willstrop.

Pilley's triumph takes the 25-year-old from New South Wales into the 21st PSA Tour final of his career - but his biggest by far!

With the Australian's height eclipsed by the 6ft 5in Willstrop, there certainly won't be much room on court.

Semi-finals:
[7] Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt Alister Walker (ENG) 11-1, 11-10 (2-0), 11-5 (41m)
[2] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [3] Lee Beachill (ENG) 11-8, 8-11, 11-5, 11-9 (58m)