As Matthew scrapes past Selby, Barker reminds Willstrop of how tough life is at the top
By NATHAN CLARKE in Chicago
World No.3 Nick Matthew and Peter Barker, the World No.8, emerged triumphant during their second round encounters with fellow Englishmen Daryl Selby and James Willstrop during a ‘Battle of Brits’ at the 2015 Windy City Open presented by Guggenheim Partners and EquiTrust Life Insurance Company in Chicago.
Essex-based Barker ensured his place in the quarter-finals with a hard-fought 3-2 victory over former World No.1 Willstrop in what was a brutally physical 81-minute back-and-forth battle.
Having got off to a superb start by winning the opening game courtesy of some perfectly placed winners, Barker then found himself struggling to shake off Willstrop as the 6’4″ man continued his comeback following a five-month injury lay-off with a spirited performance.
But in the deciding game the relentless high intensity and pace began to take its toll on Willstrop and despite saving one match ball he couldn’t prevent Barker from completing an 11-6, 9-11, 11-4, 8-11, 11-6 win – only his second ever PSA World Tour victor over the man from Yorkshire.
“James has been out of action for a while and he’s getting better and better with each week and even though it was a bit scrappy at times today, I’ll take that win with both hands,” said Barker.
“Although on paper I’m the higher seed, James is a former World No.1 so it certainly wasn’t going to be an easy match and with him coming back I tried to make it very physical out there.
“I’ve had more match practice in the last few months than he has and I think that ultimately made the difference in the end today.”
Barker will now face Willstrop’s long-time domestic rival Matthew, the three-time World Champion from Sheffield, in the last eight after he put in an assured performance against World No.17 Selby.
Matthew started slowly but managed to up his levels and use his physical attributes to keep himself in a series of punishing rallies and his trademark determination paid dividends as he sealed an 11-8, 11-9, 11-9 win.
“I think tactically we were both up and down and made errors at important times and I was lucky to escape in three games,” said Matthew.
“I was disappointed that I didn’t make the most of early advantages in the games today so there’s definitely a few things to work on ahead of the quarters tomorrow.”
There were also wins for Egyptian Omar Mosaad and French World No.2 Gregory Gaultier as the second round came to a close at the prestigious setting inside the University Club of Chicago.
2015 Windy City Open presented by Guggenheim Partners and EquiTrust Life Insurance Company, Chicago, USA.
Results: Second Round, Bottom Half:
 Nick Matthew (ENG) bt Daryl Selby (ENG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-9, 11-9 (56m)
 Peter Barker (ENG) bt James Willstrop (ENG) 3-2: 11-6, 9-11, 11-4, 8-11, 11-6 (81m)
 Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt Alister Walker (BOT) 3-0: 11-5, 11-6, 11-7 (44m)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Cameron Pilley (AUS) 3-0: 11-6, 11-6, 11-6 (40m)
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v Marwan Elshorbagy (EGY)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v  Peter Barker (ENG)
 Omar Mosaad (EGY) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
Pictures by MARIAN KRAUS (Windy City Open)