By ALAN THATCHER
The ISS Canary Wharf Classic is heading for another sell-out next week as London squash fans flock to see world champion Nick Matthew bid to retain his title in the PSA World Tour International 50 event.
Matthew, the 30-year-old world No1 from Sheffield, won his first Canary Wharf title last year as he launched a momentous drive towards the top of the PSA rankings.
The Yorkshireman took over the world No1 spot in June 2010 and went on to win two gold medals at the Commonwealth Games before beating compatriot James Willstrop in the final of the World Open in Saudi Arabia in November to crown a magnificent year.
That match was a repeat of a phenomenal semi-final battle at Canary Wharf, a two-hour classic rated as one of the best matches in the history of the sport.
Co-promoter Peter Nicol is looking forward to a possible rematch. “That was a brutal battle,” said former world champion Nicol. “Both players were playing well throughout the match but Nick got ahead in the fifth and the match finished with James lying injured in the back left corner after a huge dive to get the ball back.
“James had treatment on court but he was unable to finish the match. What a lot of people may not know is that Nick had two hours of treatment from the physio immediately after the match to help him get fit to play the final the next day.”
The magic hands of Sylvan Richardson, a former member of Simply Red who is now on the medical staff of Liverpool Football Club, clearly worked wonders.
Matthew overcame French ace Gregory Gaultier in a superb final and the two are seeded to meet in the semi-finals next week.
Gaultier, the number three seed, is almost back to peak form on his return to action following an injury suffered in the World Open.
Both face difficult first round opponents. Matthew meets Spanish No1 Borja Golan, who is also back on court following a long injury lay-off, and Gaultier tackles the ultra-physical Finnish No1 Olli Tuominen.
If Matthew beats Golan, he meets the winner of the all-English battle between rising star Tom Richards and new British champion Daryl Selby, who beat Matthew in a shock result in last month’s British National Championship final in Manchester.
Second seed Willstrop is scheduled to meet England team-mate Peter Barker in the semi-finals in the bottom half of the draw.
Wild card Joe Lee, from Surrey, has withdrawn because of a back injury and his place in the first round has been taken by fellow English player Joey Barrington.
Tickets have sold out for the final four days of the event and a handful remain available for the first round on Monday. Ticket availability can be checked on the tournament website www.canarywharfsquash.com
The qualifying competition takes place this weekend at Wimbledon Rackets and Fitness Club.
First round draw (bottom half Monday; top half Tuesday):
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v Borja Golan (ESP)
Daryl Selby (ENG) v Tom Richards (ENG)
Simon Rosner (GER) v Chris Ryder (ENG)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Olli Tuominen (FIN)
 Peter Barker (ENG) v Qualifier
Stewart Boswell (AUS) v Qualifier
Joey Barrington (ENG) v Qualifier
 James Willstrop (ENG) v Qualifier
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