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15 Jul 2024

Matthew Leads English Trio Into Canary Wharf Semis

25 Mar 2010

Gaultier reaches for the ball at East Wintergarden

Nick Matthew led three Englishmen into the semi-finals of the ISS Canary Wharf Classic after defeating Frenchman Thierry Lincou in straight games in the quarter-finals of the $52,500 PSA World Tour squash event at East Wintergarden in London.

England team-mates Matthew and James Willstrop will continue their fierce rivalry when they meet for a place in Friday's final of the established international event in its seventh year in London's Docklands.

World No2 Matthew looked ruthlessly efficient as he beat former world champion Lincou 11-8, 11-5, 11-5 - but Willstrop was given a difficult time by rising star Daryl Selby.

Before a sell-out crowd at Canary Wharf's superb East Wintergarden venue, third seed Willstrop overcame compatriot Selby 9-11, 11-9, 11-3, 11-8 in 61 minutes of high-quality and often physical squash.

After winning a 3-star PSA Tour event in Calgary at the weekend, world No12 Selby began solidly and was obviously high on confidence as he produced a succession of stunning winners to take the first game.

The 27-year-old from Essex led 7-5 in the second but Yorkshireman Willstrop won four points in a row to put himself in a strong position. Selby drew level at 9-9 but mistakes cost him the game.

He struck the tin with a drop shot to give Willstrop game ball at 10-9 and was surprised by Willstrop's bodyline serve on match ball. Selby shaped to receive serve on his backhand but was unable to react quickly and sent a weak forehand into the floor as Willstrop fired the ball towards the other side of his body.

Willstrop, the 26-year-old world No4 from Leeds, led throughout the third game to win 11-3 but Selby resumed his attack in the fourth. He was unable to convert a 7-6 lead and Willstrop finished strongly to win 11-8.

Both players spent a lot of time on the floor following a succession of collisions and there were frequent arguments with referee Wendy Danzey.

Willstrop admitted that he was surprised by the challenge Selby mounted: "He has been playing in Canada for three weeks and flew back after his final on Sunday night. Frankly I was amazed he got through the first round against Tarek Momen on Monday after a schedule like that. I know I couldn't have done it.

"Daryl has worked hard to become a very good professional squash player and I am sure he is certainly good enough to get into the world top ten if he carries on playing like that," added the three times Canary Wharf Classic champion.

Matthew has beaten Willstrop in their three matches so far this year and looked in top form as he removed Lincou with a fast, high-pressure game.

But the 29-year-old from Sheffield warned: "Results in the early rounds don't mean anything. James is playing very well at the moment and it seems like we are playing each other every week!

"We have played each other hundreds of times over the years and it's bound to be another difficult match."

Gregory Gaultier, the No2 seed from France, reached the semi-finals with a battling victory over reigning champion David Palmer, the Orlando-based Australian.

Gaultier began superbly, winning the opening game for the loss of just three points, but fell awkwardly on game ball and had to receive treatment at courtside.

The former world number one came back on to clinch the game but Palmer sensed an opportunity and dominated the next two games. Then it was Gaultier's turn to fight his way back into the match and he led 5-1 in the fourth before Palmer turned the tables to draw level at 6-6.

Gaultier maintained his control to win 11-7 to take the match to a fifth game. The 27-year-old from Aix-en-Provence built up a 6-2 lead but 33-year-old Palmer again dug deep to launch a comeback.

At one stage he left the court to argue with referee Jos Aarts and accused Gaultier of blocking his path to the ball. It was a fiery finish to the match but again the Frenchman held his nerve to win 11-3, 6-11, 4-11, 11-7, 11-6 in 81 minutes of classic squash.

A relieved Gaultier said: "David has been a great champion down the years and he is still playing amazing squash at 33. I have so much respect for what he has done in the game and I am very pleased to win. I want to thank my physiotherapist for getting me back in shape after my fall and I am so pleased she travelled to watch me play."

Gaultier meets No4 seed Peter Barker after the left-handed Londoner beat Leeds-based Alister Walker with a clinical display of tight, attacking squash.

Barker won 11-6, 11-8, 11-4 in 55 minutes to send out the message that he is back near his best after a disappointing start to the year that followed his rise to No6 in the PSA world rankings.

Walker, who has risen to 13 in the world on the back of some impressive performances on the world tour, struggled to find a suitable length or width on the glass court and was punished for his errors.

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Quarter-finals:
[1] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [6] Thierry Lincou (FRA) 11-8, 11-5, 11-5 (42m)
[3] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [8] Daryl Selby (ENG) 9-11, 11-9, 11-3, 11-8 (61m)
[4] Peter Barker (ENG) bt [7] Alister Walker (ENG) 11-6, 11-8, 11-4 (55m)
[2] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [5] David Palmer (AUS) 11-3, 6-11, 4-11, 11-7, 11-6 (81m)