Rampant Rosner stops another all-English final as Matthew halts Selby
By ALAN THATCHER and JOEL DURSTON at Canary Wharf
Simon Rösner gatecrashed the party again to book a place in the final of the Canary Wharf Classic.
After beating the English number three James Willstrop in straight games in the quarter-finals, he outfought home number two Peter Barker in a brutal semi-final, and tomorrow he meets England number one Nick Matthew in the biggest match of his career in the final.
The previous day, Rösner was a comfortable winner against Willstrop, who was suffering from the effects of a flu virus, let alone the fatigue brought on by his body adjusting to the rigours of tournament play following five months out of action recovering after a hip operation.
Tonight there was not a moment of comfort in a tense, physical battle with Barker.
There were frequent collisions in mid-court and Rösner clearly blamed his opponent for incidents that resulted in 38 refereeing decisions.
Rösner, the highest ranked German squash player of all time, booked his place in the final courtesy of a steely come-from-behind victory against the number two seed and world No.8 Barker.
That win was his first ever against the Essex man, coming just 24-hours after he claimed his first ever tour win over Willstrop, the former world No.1 from Harrogate, and he’ll be hoping to cap a breakthrough week with a first ever tour win over the three-time world champion from Sheffield in the finale.
“Beating James for the first time in my career yesterday, and beating Peter for the first time in my PSA career today, at the same tournament, is something special for me for sure and I can’t wait to play another Englishman tomorrow,” said Rösner.
“I’m just really relieved and so happy to be in the final in front of such a great crowd and in such a great venue.
“It was a little bit scrappy at times tonight but taking the win is the main thing and I’m just going to try and relax now and come back refreshed tomorrow.
“As for the physical issues, I wasn’t happy with a lot of it. There is no need for that stuff on court. You can play hard, but you always need to play fair.”
Four-time champion Nick Matthew gave a five-star performance to beat Daryl Selby 12-10, 11-6, 11-9 in 55 minutes to book his place in the final of the Canary Wharf Classic.
Selby battled hard as ever and looked set to take it to four games – or more – but the 34-year-old’s class shone through in the end as he came from behind to win the third.
“Sorry to disappoint everyone – I’m sure everyone wanted a fourth game there, but I didn’t. So sorry about that,” he joked.
“I thought I was having a nightmare there in the third game – I kept hitting that tin, so I need to work on that tomorrow.
“Daryl backed up so well after last night’s two-hour match, because it’s not easy, you know. People don’t understand the mental side. It’s not just physically – to get back into that level of concentration and application.
“He can be really proud of how he backed up tonight.”
The first game started with both players feeling each other out with good boasts, tight drops and solid driving finishing some of the patient rallies.
It was a notable change for anyone who enjoyed – or perhaps rather endured – Selby’s five-game “boxing match” in yesterday’s quarter-final with Borja Golan, which contained a whopping 67 decisions, including 36 in the fifth game alone.
At 7-7 Matthew pulled away, before Selby saved three game balls, two with fine drop shots. But Matthew earned another game-ball with with a good forehand drop volley and took it with a great boast then a reaction volley drive back to where Selby had retrieved it.
The game came to life in the second game with Matthew summoning the level of squash which has recently saw him beat Gregory Gaultier and Mohamed Elshorbagy on his way to the Windy City and Swedish Opens, as he hit eight winners to just three errors to take the game 11-6 – even if he was uncharacteristically profligate in letting another two game-balls slip.
The game hinged on two fantastic rallies at 4-2 to Matthew, the first of which saw Selby sprawled out on the floor after a dive – for which Matthew was perhaps a little harshly given a stroke.
The second saw Selby make three great retrievals off the back wall before finally losing it – disconsolately throwing his racket on the floor as if to say ‘What can I do?’
Selby battled hard to go 9-6 up in the third, but ‘The Wolf’ clawed his way back into it and won the match as Selby received a no-let call. Perhaps it was an unfortunate way to win the game, but the correct decision.
Matthew has won four of the last five finals. Few would bet against him overtaking James Willstrop to put his name on the trophy a fifth time.
The 34-year-old is on course to complete a hat-trick of PSA World Tour event triumphs after claiming both the Swedish Open and Windy City Open inside the last month.
But the pragmatic three-time world champion says he isn’t getting carried away ahead of what promises to be a tough encounter against in-form German world No.9 Rösner tomorrow.
“I’m not really thinking about what’s gone on so far this year because you have to start each match and each tournament from scratch,” said Matthew.
“You can take confidence from what’s happened before, but you can’t rely on it, and you have to earn the right to win and I’m going to have to improve again tomorrow and continue to take it one day at a time.
“Although I’ve had a lot of success here I’ve also had my fair share of disappointment as well so I’m not taking anything for granted.
“Two years ago I was at one of the lowest points of my career here and my racket ended up in the Thames after one match.
“Those moments can really remind you to keep your perspective and helps me appreciate my squash when I’m playing well and enjoying it.”
Canary Wharf Classic. East Wintergarden, Canary Wharf, London.
(1) Nick Matthew (England) beat (6) Daryl Selby (England) 12-10,11-6,11-9 (55 mins)
(4) Simon Rösner (GER) bt (2) Peter Barker (ENG) 3-11, 12-10, 11-5, 12-10 (78 mins)
Final (7.30pm Friday):
(1) Nick Matthew (ENG) v (4) Simon Rösner (GER)
Live on BT Sport with highlights throughout the weekend.
Pictures by STEVE LINE (www.squashpics.com) and PATRICK LAUSON