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15 Jul 2024

Walker & Barker Take It To Five In Canary Wharf Classic Quarters

24 Mar 2010

Victories by Alister Walker and Peter Barker on the second day of first round action in the ISS Canary Wharf Classic will lead to five Englishmen competing in the quarter-finals of the $52,500 PSA World Tour event being staged at the spectacular East Wintergarden venue in London - and the certainty of home interest in both semi-finals on Thursday.

Alister Walker, the world No12 from Leeds, booked a place in the quarter-finals by beating English rival Tom Richards. The seventh seed won a hard-fought first round encounter 11-3, 6-11, 12-10, 11-4 in 47 minutes.

A shock semi-finalist at Canary Wharf two years ago, Walker finished as strongly as he started, playing tight, aggressive squash. Rising star Richards, ranked 33 in the world, had a purple patch in the middle of the match, winning the second game with some deft drop shots and battling all the way through the third until Walker won the tie-break on a hotly-disputed penalty stroke.

Walker will meet England team-mate Peter Barker in the quarter-finals after the No4 seed subdued Adrian Waller in an all-London derby clash.

Barker was in control throughout the match, winning 11-5, 11-6, 11-7 in 37 minutes.

The Islington-based world No7, who has struggled to hit peak form this year despite his rise up the rankings, is determined to do well in front of his home crowd this week.

"I had an injury in training at the start of the year and that put me back," explained 26-year-old Barker. "But maybe that disappointment helped me to refocus on my game.

"There are so many good young English players coming through that I feel like an old man at 26!"

After claiming his place in the last eight, French star Gregory Gaultier revealed that he had to take a break from the game to cope with the enormous emotional stress he suffered after reaching the world No1 spot last year.

The number two seed from Aix-en-Provence eased past Swiss qualifier Nicolas Mueller, winning 11-7, 11-3, 11-7 in just 30 minutes.

He then admitted that he had taken a rest from the game to deal with the psychological impact on his life after taking over at the top of the rankings in November.

"It all got to me and I needed to take a break. I was No2 for so long and it was hard work doing all that chasing. The pressure just built up.

"But I have been training hard for three weeks and I am now very happy with my life. I travel the world and play in different countries all the time. I am 27 now and want to continue playing for many years to come, and I want to enjoy it."

Gaultier faces defending champion David Palmer in the quarter-finals after the Australian overcame fellow veteran Davide Bianchetti in a tempestuous battle.

With the match poised at one game all, the crucial third game was an intense affair, with constant physical contact resulting in explosive verbal confrontations with referee John Massarella. Italian Bianchetti twice opened the court door to rant at the official after decisions had gone against him.

It was pure theatre and the sell-out crowd at Canary Wharf's East Wintergarden venue loved it.

Palmer won the game 12-10 and encountered little resistance as he powered home in the fourth, clinching victory 11-2, 7-11, 12-10, 11-5 with a spectacular volley kill into the front right corner.

The Australian's triumph sets up a repeat of last year's semi-final with Gaultier, which Palmer won with a magnificent fightback from two games down before going on to win the tournament.

Follow all the Canary Wharf action LIVE on www.psasquashtv.com
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1st round:
[7] Alister Walker (ENG) bt Tom Richards (ENG) 11-3, 6-11, 12-10, 11-4 (47m)
[4] Peter Barker (ENG) bt Adrian Waller (ENG) 11-5, 11-6, 11-7 (37m)
[5] David Palmer (AUS) bt [Q] Davide Bianchetti (ITA) 11-2, 7-11, 12-10, 11-5 (61m)
[2] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [Q] Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 11-7, 11-3, 11-2 (30m)