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Nick Matthew and James Willstrop seeded to clash at Canary Wharf

Alan Thatcherhttps://squashmad.com
Founder of World Squash Day, Squash Mad and the new Squash 200 Partnership, building clubs of the future. Founder of the Kent Open and co-promoter of the St. James's Place Canary Wharf Classic. Author and Public Speaker.

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Nick Matthew and James Willstrop in action in the Tournament of Champions

Brutal 2010 semi-final one of the best matches in history
By ALAN THATCHER

 

The 2018 Canary Wharf Classic could play host to the final chapter of one of squash’s most riveting rivalries in March, with England’s three-time world champion Nick Matthew and domestic rival James Willstrop seeded to meet in what would be an enthralling quarter-final clash in London’s East Wintergarden.

Matthew and Willstrop have had an acrimonious relationship since a hot-tempered British Open final meeting back in 2009 and have been competing for 17 years on the PSA World Tour, with their brutal, two-hour semi-final meeting at the 2010 Canary Wharf Classic going down in the squash annals as one of the most captivating matches the sport has ever seen.

Since that momentous British Open final clash nine years ago, 37-year-old Matthew has enjoyed the lion’s share of the victories between the two, ultimately going 19 matches unbeaten against his rival – a run that spanned a decade – before Willstrop finally got the better of his fellow Yorkshireman during last year’s J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, although Matthew avenged that defeat with victory at the same stage of the 2018 edition of the tournament last week.

And, with six-time Canary Wharf Classic champion Matthew retiring at the end of the season, the English stalwarts could meet for the final time in the East Wintergarden if they both make it past qualifiers in round one.

Nick Matthew at full stretch against James Willstrop in the 2012 Canary Wharf final

The winner of that meeting is seeded to play U.S. Open champion Ali Farag in the semi-finals, with Farag set to face tournament wildcard Nathan Lake in round one.

World Champion Mohamed ElShorbagy is on the opposite side of the draw and is predicted to meet Germany’s Simon Rösner in the last eight, while a semi-final fixture against younger brother Marwan – the man he beat to lift the men’s PSA World Championship trophy last month – beckons if both players play to their seeding.

Marwan faces a tough opening round draw against home favourite Daryl Selby, who always pulls out all the stops in front of the sell-out Canary Wharf crowd.

The 2018 Canary Wharf Classic, which takes place between March 5-9, sees the prestigious tournament celebrate its 15th anniversary, with a $100,000 prize fund on offer for the first time in its history.

This year’s edition will also be the first ranking PSA World Tour event to be played using a best-of-three games scoring format, with first round and quarter-final matches played under that format, before the semi-finals and final revert to the traditional best-of-five scoring.

All of the main draw action will be broadcast live on SQUASHTV (Rest of World) and Eurosport Player (Europe only), while the semi-finals and final will be shown live on mainstream broadcast channels around the globe, such as BT Sport, beIN Sports, Fox Sports Australia and Astro.

For more information on the tournament, please visit the tournament website: www.cwsquash.com

Tickets for the Canary Wharf Classic have sold out for a seventh year in a row, but squash fans can email the following email address to get added to the waiting list: [email protected]

2018 Canary Wharf Classic, East Wintergarden, Canary Wharf, London (March 5-9).

First Round Draw:
[1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v [Qualifier]
[Qualifier] v [6] Simon Rösner (GER)
[5] Tarek Momen (EGY) v Cameron Pilley (AUS)
Daryl Selby (ENG) v [3] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)
[4] Nick Matthew (ENG) v [Qualifier]
[Qualifier] v [7] James Willstrop (ENG)
[8] Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) v Borja Golan (ESP)
[WC] Nathan Lake (ENG) v [2] Ali Farag (EGY) 
 

Pictures courtesy of PSA 

 

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