10:39 pm
19 Jun 2024

Wildcard Willstrop Advances At East Wintergarden In Bid For Fifth Canary Wharf Classic Crown

13 Mar 2023

England's 39-year-old James Willstrop, a wildcard entrant in honour of his four Canary Wharf Classic titles since 2004, advanced to the second round of the GillenMarkets-sponsored PSA World Tour Gold event after defeating Gregoire Marche on the opening day of action at East Wintergarden in London.

Former world No.1 Willstrop, who has featured in all but one of the 20 editions of the championship since 2004, took on the Frenchman in the first round. Unfortunately, Marche was feeling under the weather, and unable to play any lengthy rallies, with the veteran Englishman running out the winner after Marche had to retire through illness.

"And it's awful, isn't it?" said the 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2013 champion, who received a standing ovation on entering the sell-out arena. "Come to a tournament like this, which is a priority and a great event and you want to be able to perform in front of a crowd. But, you know, just feel sorry for him. And clearly not a good way to play a match and win it.

"Funny, isn't it? I mean, just great, isn't it? I mean I just get sort of grateful at this point in my career to be able to soak stuff like this up. And I think I'm in a position where I have the perspective that I do that now. So it gives me more energy to just enjoy the spectacle."

Former England number one Willstrop will now face the current older of this title Mohamed ElShorbagy, the fifth seed, for a place in the quarter-finals.