Sunday, October 1, 2023

Canary Wharf: Matthew so relieved to get past Rodriguez

Canary Wharf Squash Classic
PSA International 50 tournament
East Wintergarden, Canary Wharf, London

Tom Richards (England) beat Ali Anwar Reda (Egypt) 11-4, 11-5, 11-3 (36 mins)

(4) Peter Barker (England) beat Alan Clyne (Scotland) 11-7, 11-3, 11-7 (38 mins)

(1)  Nick Matthew (England) beat Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Colombia) 9-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-9 (70 mins)

Steve Coppinger (RSA) beat Alister Walker (Botswana) 12-10, 11-9, 11-1 (38 mins)

SIMPLY AMAZING! Miguel Rodriguez dives across the court against Nick Matthew. Picture by STEVE LINE of


Nick Matthew (England) beat Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Colombia) 9-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-9 (70 mins)

Nick Matthew admitted he was lucky to reach the quarter-finals after fending off a phenomenal attack from Colombia’s pocket rocket Miguel Angel Rodriguez in a hugely entertaining first round battle.

The unseeded Rodriguez won over the packed crowd with some amazingly athletic retrieving in a gripping encounter that had the East Wintergarden rocking.

He took advantage of some unforced errors from Matthew to lead 10-6 in the opening game and held off a spirited revival from the top seed to close out the game 11-9.

Matthew’s error count dropped in the second and although he was playing his usual fast, aggressive game, Rodriguez fought for every point. Matthew led 7-4 but the world No.23 from Bogota drew level at 8-8 before Matthew enjoyed some good fortune to win three points in a row.

Matthew, the No.2 seed from Sheffield, kept in front for most of the third and finished strongly to win it 11-6.

Rodriguez was spurred on by the home crowd who were clearly willing the match to go the full distance.

The fourth game, accordingly, was a brutal battle as Rodriguez flung himself around the court to keep the rallies going and produced some quality finishing at the front of the court.

It was touch and go all the way but from 9-9 Matthew moved to match ball when Rodriguez failed to scrape a shot off the side wall and the 32-year-old Englishman finally clinched a thrilling match with a crosscourt drop after some sensational rallying.

Matthew admitted: “Miguel was the better player tonight and I was lucky to get through. I knew what to expect after our massive match in America last year and he has obviously come on a lot since then.

“I was fortunate with a few lucky bounces at crucial times and I am very relieved to get off the court with a win.

“He is so quick that sometimes you are just not sure if the ball is up or not. It was great entertainment and very enjoyable for the crowd, but not for me.”

Rodriguez said: “This is my first time here at Canary Wharf and this is a wonderful venue and the best crowd I have ever played in front of.

“I have been working hard with my coach, David Palmer, and I look forward to coming back next year.”

Another piece of incredible athleticism as Miguel Rodriguez jumps over Nick Matthew’s shot. Picture by STEVE LINE of

Tom Richards (England) beat Ali Anwar Reda (Egypt) 11-4, 11-5, 11-3 (36 mins)

Tom Richards powered through the first match with a straight-games demolition job on Egyptian Ali Anwar Reda.

Playing high-tempo squash, the world No.12 from Walton-on-Thames attacked at every opportunity. Always quick on the ball, Richards volleyed with purpose and moved his opponent to all corners of the glass court at the East Wintergarden.

Richards quickly established a 6-1 lead in the first game and although Reda hit back to 4-6, Richards pushed through to complete the game without dropping another point.

Reda drew level at 5-5 in the second game but again that was far as his contribution went as Richards won the next six points.

The expected third-game revival from Reda failed to materialise as Richards underlined his superiority with a display of total control. From 2-3 down he won nine points in a row to book his first appearance in the Canary Wharf quarter-finals.

He said: “This is a great feeling, as a London boy to win before a sell-out crowd in a terrific venue like this.

“As world No.12 one of my targets is to get into the top ten before the end of the year and so I am hoping for more performances like this.

“With the World Teams coming up as well, I know there are a lot of very talented English players ahead of me in the rankings and I will need to keep producing results if I am to be selected.”


Tom Richards shuts out Ali Anwar Reda. Picture by PATRICK LAUSON


(4) Peter Barker (England) beat Alan Clyne (Scotland) 11-7, 11-3, 11-7  (38 mins)

Peter Barker advanced to a quarter-final clash against Tom Richards after seeing off the challenge of Scottish number one Alan Clyne.

The result could have a huge bearing on England’s squad selection for the forthcoming World Team Championships, with world No.8 Barker and No.12 Richards ranked three and four in the country behind Nick Matthew and James Willstrop.

Barker’s knee injury, which caused him to withdraw from last week’s Kuwait Cup quarter-final against Gregory Gaultier of France, was a worry for tournament organisers.

But Barker dispelled those fears with a demonstration of excellent mobility to overpower Clyne as the Scottish world No.27 made his debut appearance in this PSA International 50 tournament.

Clyne looked nervous as he struggled to make an impact in the first game and Barker, who always enjoys playing in this event, won the first six points.

Clyne dug in to claw back to 7-7 but Barker’s superior length and touch at the front of the court was the deciding factor as he regained control to win it 11-7.

Barker tightened up to win the second game 11-3 but Clyne fought desperately to stay in the match in the third.

He pulled level at 7-7 but again Barker’s experience told as he closed out the match in 38 minutes.

Regarding his knee, he said: “Medical science is a wonderful thing these days. The knee is holding up well and I want to give it one big push this week then take it easy for a couple of months before the British Open.

“This is a very big year for squash on so many fronts, with the Olympic vote and the World Championships in Manchester, and we hope the powers that be at the IOC take notice of fantastic tournaments like this.

“It’s a great feeling to be able to play in front of family and friends, and sleep in your own bed at night, and although this tournament is not as big as Kuwait in monetary terms, I know that we are all here because we love the game.

“In Kuwait we played the first round in front of about 20 people and there was just no atmosphere.”

Peter Barker in action against Alan Clyne. Picture by PATRICK LAUSON

Steve Coppinger (RSA) beat Alister Walker (Botswana) 12-10, 11-9, 11-1 (38 mins)

South African No.1 Steve Coppinger broke the spirit of Alister Walker to reach a quarter-final clash with top seed Nick Matthew.

Coppinger recovered from 6-2 down in the first game to push Walker all the way. From 9-9 it was Walker who reached game ball first but Coppinger dug deep to clinch the game 12-10.

Coppinger built a 5-1 lead in the second and managed to stay in front all the way as Walker responded.

The tall South African reached game ball at 10-7 and although Walker won the next two points Coppinger held on for 11-9.

Walker’s challenge collapsed in the third game as Coppinger’s relentless driving saw him power home 11-1.

He said: “I am looking forward to playing Nick in the quarters and want to thank Miguel for giving him such a tough match.

“We are both working hard with David Palmer and he is an outstanding coach. He was watching the game on TV and texting me advice between games.

“I also want to thank my family and friends from South Africa who were cheering me on through the match.”

As for the baggy white shorts, he quipped: “I borrowed them from Saurav Ghosal.”

Alister Walker at full stretch against Steve Coppinger. Picture by PATRICK LAUSON


(1) Nick Matthew (Eng) v Steve Coppinger (RSA)

(4) Peter Barker (Eng) v Tom Richards (Eng)

(3) Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egypt) v Henrik Mustonen (Fin)
(2) James Willstrop (Eng) v Daryl Selby (Eng)


Tournament website:



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