Thursday, December 7, 2023

Jonathan Kemp pushes Selbs to brink in Canary Wharf thriller

I need an ice bath and 12 hours sleep says Selbs after five-game battle

CWselbykempDARYL SELBY narrowly dodged a first round bullet after part-timer Jonathan Kemp took him to the limit at the Canary Wharf Classic in London tonight.

The world number 10 from Essex, playing in front a huge bank of his own fans, looked like heading for the exit as Kemp produced a master class of racquet skills to take a two love lead to leave Selby facing a mountain to climb.

Qualifier Kemp, now 33 years of age and playing only a limited PSA calendar, blitzed through the opener 11-5 in seven minutes and survived three game balls in the second to take it 16-14 in a punishing 25 minutes.

The shock was on, but could the man from Ipswich hold his nerve, and would his legs survive a Selby charge?

The answer in the third game was an emphatic NO as errors plagued the world ranked number 47. Selby cranked up the pace, led 7-2 and banked an 11-8 game win to signal the comeback.

“I told Daryl to increase the pace and take more risks,” said his coach and father, Paul Selby. “At two love down it was pointless playing to Kempy’s strengths. We had to push him back in the court and take chances.”

The tactic unsettled Kemp and paid dividends for Selby. The fourth game was secured 11-8 and the match was as good as over as the hard yards began to take their toll on the part-timer.

A quickfire fifth went Selby’s way 11-6 and Kemp’s final task was to accept the cheers and applause of a full-house who stood as one to salute the player’s efforts.

“That was tough, tough, tough,” admitted Selby afterwards. “It was probably good for the fans and good for Kempy, but it was horrible for me going two down.

“But he allowed me back in and the fact that he is not playing on the tour full time probably made the difference. I’m now looking forward to an ice bath and 12 hours’ sleep, if my wife Lucie will let me.”

In complete contrast to the punishing Selby-Kemp showdown, four-times Canary Wharf champion James Willstrop barely broke sweat as he easily despatched qualifier Adrian Waller.

Picture Tweeted by Jordan Mansfield
Picture Tweeted by Jordan Mansfield

World number five Willstrop strolled to a 3-0 win in little over 30 minutes. The 6ft 3in Waller, from Enfield, north London, found the gap in class too tough a hurdle as he was put to the sword 11-5, 11-6, 11-4.

Even Willstrop and MC for the evening, former world champion Peter Nicol struggled for words to big-up the game afterwards. Instead they discussed the quality of the East Wintergarden venue. “I love coming to Canary Wharf. It’s one of my favourite venues,” said Willstrop.

Peter Barker became the second Essex man into the quarters with an equally uncomplicated win against India’s Saurav Ghosal.

Barker found little resistance from the 27-year-old world number 18, who put up slightly more opposition that Waller, although the outcome was equally as routine.

Barker’s strength was the key, often leaving Ghosal chasing shadows. As PSA TV commentator Lee Drew said at one point:” I’m not sure that Ghosal knows what to do here.”

Drew’s fellow broadcaster, Kate Mason, weighed in: “I feel sorry for Ghosal. I want to give him a hug.”

Barker wasn’t handing out hugs, but it was close to becoming a lesson as the England international romped home 11-5, 11-3, 11-4.

Afterwards he refused to tip himself for tournament glory but conceded: ”I would like to win this before I retire. I got to the final last year. I’d like to go further.”

The evening’s final match saw German No.1 Simon Rosner end the challenge of Egyptian qualifier Ali Anwar Reda. Rosner secured his third quarter final berth in four years using his explosive power to full effect winning 11-5, 11-5, 11-9.

He will face Barker on Wednesday while Selby is paired with Willstrop, Nick Matthew goes up against hard-hitting Egyptian Omar Mosaad and Miguel Angel Rodriguez gets a crack at Max Lee, who removed former world number one Karim Darwish in the shock result of the first round.

Quarter-Final draw:

(1) Nick Matthew (Eng) v (7) Omar Mosaad (Egy)
(8) Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Col) v (Q) Max Lee (HK)
(3) Peter Barker v (6) Simon Rosner (Ger)
(2) James Willstrop (Eng) v (5) Daryl Selby (Eng)

Canary Wharf Classic first Round
(5) Daryl Selby (ENG) beat (Q) Jonathan Kemp (ENG) 5-11, 14-16, 11-8,11-8, 11-6 (76 mins)
(2) James Willstrop (ENG) beat (Q) Adrian Waller (ENG) 11-5, 11-6, 11-4 (34 mins)
(3) Peter Barker (ENG) beat Suarav Ghosal ( IND ) 11-5, 11-3, 11-4 (35 mins)
(6) Simon Rosner (GER) beat (Q) Ali Anwar Reda (EGY) 11-5, 11-5 11-9 (37 mins)


 Action picture courtesy of STEVE LINE (





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