11:36 am
21 Apr 2024

Weary Willstrop Claims Canary Wharf Hat-Trick

15 Mar 2008

England's James Willstrop won the ISS Canary Wharf Classic for a third time with a battling performance against Australian Cameron Pilley in the final of the 5-star PSA Tour squash event at East Wintergarden in Canary Wharf, London.

The 24-year-old second seed fought back from the brink of collapse to overturn a 2/1 deficit in games as Pilley, the seventh seed, came close to a shock result in his first major final.

The UK-based Pilley played fast, controlled and aggressive squash to establish his lead against the world No4 from Pontefract in Yorkshire, who was exhausted following a punishing tournament schedule in which he has collected five titles already this year.

Pilley, 25, from New South Wales, began solidly and fought back from 7-4 down to win the opening game 11-9 before a capacity audience at the superb East Wintergarden venue.

Willstrop heeded the words of advice from his father Malcolm between games and resumed with a more focused approach.

However, he still had to resist some ferocious competition from Pilley before clinching the game with a stunning kill shot after Pilley had played an amazing shot with the racket behind his back.

Pilley grew in confidence and, when he took the third game - after leading throughout - a major upset was on the cards. But the 24-year-old British National champion dug deep into his physical reserves and at 6-6 in the fourth the match swung Willstrop's way.

Pilley was in uncharted territory and visibly wilted as Willstrop reeled off the next five points. Willstrop maintained the momentum throughout the fifth game and clinched his 9-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-6, 11-3 victory after 78 minutes of brutal combat.

Willstrop paid tribute to his opponent: "Cameron may be ranked 20 in the world but he clearly has the game to be up there with the best. He has shown that this week in every game he has played.

"I am just delighted and relieved to have won the tournament. I am looking forward to a complete rest and forgetting about squash for a few days to let my body heal and recover," added Willstrop, after claiming his fourth PSA Tour title in his fifth successive Tour final appearance since December!

"I love playing squash but the travelling takes a toll on the mind and the body and that match hurt. That was painful, extremely painful.

"Winning this tournament is special. It gets bigger and better every year. The Canary Wharf venue is fantastic. It's right up there with the best venues in the world and the audiences are brilliant. The London crowds are very knowledgeable and love to get involved, which the players appreciate. Any event that sells out every night is obviously good for the game and the players love coming here."

Earlier, the capacity Canary Wharf crowd was treated to a women's exhibition match between England's newly-crowned British National champion Alison Waters and the world number one from Malaysia Nicol David. Playing in front of a 'home town' London crowd, Waters put up a great display - taking the world's top player the full distance. But David ultimately prevailed 11-9, 4-11, 11-4, 7-11, 11-1 in 41 minutes.

[2] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [7] Cameron Pilley (AUS) 9-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-6, 11-3 (78m)