Canary Wharf Squash Classic
PSA International 50 tournament
East Wintergarden, Canary Wharf, London
(3) Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egypt) beat Henrik Mustonen (Fin) 3-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-6, 11-9 (52 mins)
By ALAN THATCHER
Number three seed Mohamed El Shorbagy withstood a tremendous battle from Finnish qualifier Henrik Mustonen to reach the semi-finals.
Mustonen, the 22-year-old from Hollola, stunned El Shorbagy with a high-paced attack to win the opening game 11-3.
El Shorbagy was clearly taken by surprise but worked his way into the second game with some powerful kills at the front of the court.
Mustonen continued to attack in the third and led all the way through to win it 11-7, producing some phenomenal retrieving that left his opponent flat-footed.
The Egyptian began to look more comfortable as he dominated the early stages of the fourth game but Mustonen refused to give up. But El Shorbagy managed to maintain his advantage to draw level at two games apiece.
He began the fifth in sensational style, blitzing his way to a 6-1 lead, but Mustonen staged a spectacular recovery to draw level at 7-7, aided by two tinned service returns from his opponent.
It was anyone’s match at 8-8 but El Shorbagy finished strongly to book his place in the semi-finals.
He said: “I was taken by surprise in the first game by the way Henrik played at such a fast pace. He had nothing to lose and went flat out, going for everything.
“I had no injury worries or anything like that. It was all down to the way he played.
“It was good to play him again and see how some of the guys lower down the rankings are playing, and especially someone my own age, and to see if there is a gap between us.”
(2) James Willstrop (Eng) beat Daryl Selby (Eng) 11-7, 11-5, 11-7 (47 mins)
James Willstrop was on top form as he overcame the challenge of England rival Daryl Selby in straight games.
Selby, fresh from a win over England number one Nick Matthew in Kuwait last week, was unable to make inroads against Willstrop’s immaculate court control.
The number two seed moved ahead from 5-4 in the first game and repelled a late flurry of points to win it 11-7.
He was even meaner in the second, building a 6-2 lead and quickly closing out the game.
In the third, Selby fought back from 3-7 with a handful of points but Willstrop was aided by two lucky nicks on the left wall as he closed in on a victory that took 47 minutes.
He faces No.3 seed Mohamed El Shorbagy in the semi-final, having beaten the young Egyptian at the same stage of last week’s Kuwait Cup, which provided revenge for the result in the World Championship in December.
Willstrop said: “I didn’t need to think about Daryl’s win over Nick last week to know that he is a top player. It was always going to be a huge battle, especially here, where he enjoys such enormous support.
“But I was very pleased with the way I played. It was a fairly comprehensive performance and I’m pleased to win in straight games.
“Mohamed is already five in the world. We know what an outstanding player he is already and it should be another great match.”
(1) Nick Matthew (Eng) beat Steve Coppinger (RSA) 11-6, 11-4, 10-12, 11-3 (57mins)
Top seed Nick Matthew continued his march through the Canary Wharf Classic with a polished performance against world No.20 Steve Coppinger.
The tall South African did well to hit back from 8-4 down to win the third game 12-10, with one amazing shot off his toes to take him to game ball, but Matthew reasserted his authority in the fourth, reaching 10-1 before Coppinger claimed two points to make the scoreline more respectable.
Coppinger, like Matthew’s opponent last night, Miguel Angel Rodriguez, is coached by Australia’s former world champion David Palmer.
Matthew said: “David has got together a good group of players and they can benefit from the fact that he has only just retired and knows all of the current players.
“He is therefore able to pass on some significant information to his players about their opponents.
“Steve played very well tonight and in the third game it just shows that you can never ease up. I was getting close to a 3-0 win but he came back strongly to win it.
“James and Mohamed looks like being a great game in the other half of the draw but I will just concentrate on my own match.
“As players you have to get used to different court conditions wherever you play. There are now glass courts all over the world and it was quite cool in Virginia and rather humid in Kuwait.
“It’s nice and warm here on court at Canary Wharf with a full-house crowd for every day, and that helps to make the ball nice and bouncy.”
(4) Peter Barker (Eng) beat Tom Richards (Eng) 8-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-7 (56 mins)
No.4 seed Peter Barker fought back from a game down to beat English rival Tom Richards in the last match of the night.
Richards attacked in superb style at the start of the opening game, hitting some sensational winners to build up a 5-2 lead. As Barker settled into his rhythm, Richards managed to stay in front to win the game 11-8.
A determined Barker took the attack to his younger opponent in the second game and his tight lines forced a succession of errors as Richards found the tin instead of the nick.
Barker maintained the pressure throughout the third with a run of points taking him from 4-3 to 9-3 before closing out the game.
Richards reduced the error count at the start of the fourth game to lead 3-1 but his hopes were dashed as Barker responded with another decisive run of points to lead 6-4 then 8-5.
The 29-year-old left-hander from Essex clinched victory in 56 minutes to clinch a semi-final clash with Nick Matthew.
Barker was runner-up to Matthew in 2011 and last year kept him on court for 94 minutes in the semi-final before Matthew went on to win his third Canary Wharf title against James Willstrop.
Barker said: “There are fine lines between winning and losing at the top end of any sport. I’m eight in the world and Tom is 12 and the match was very close.
“Tom attacked strongly at the start but I didn’t do anything wrong in that game. I just decided to stick to my game plan and it worked.
“I want to thank the crowd for staying right to the end. It means a lot to play in front of a full house because the atmosphere gives us a big lift.
“Nick in the semi-finals will be another massive match. I have only beaten him once so tomorrow would be a good day to do it again.
“I got my first win against James Willstrop on this court so why not another one tomorrow?”
Tournament website: www.canarywharfsquash.com