Tuesday, April 16, 2024

‘Squash fans let players know what they like and it works a treat’  

The Canary Wharf Classic is set for an electric week in its 20th running, with three players vying for the World No.1 spot and permutations galore.

The draw will feature all of the world’s top 12 players,  with the exception of defending champion Fares Dessouky who had to pull out with an injury sustained at the recent Black Ball.

Yet there is the potential for anyone from Mostafa Asal, Diego Elias, and Mohamed ElShorbagy to emerge from the East Winter Garden and top the rankings, depending on how the cards fall.

Thus, should England’s El Shorbagy savour success in front of his adoring ‘home’ fans and Asal fail to make the final the Bristol resident will reclaim the squash throne for an amazing sixth occasion.

Elias’ bid to become the sport’s first ever South American No.1 will be realised should the Puma make a successful kill at the East Wintergarden, or make the title-match and top-dog Asal left floored in the quarter-finals or earlier.

Long-serving MC and media man Alan Thatcher, who will preside over his last CWC, said: “I am confident with the strength of the field and just how much is resting on this year’s Canary Wharf Classic that this will evolve into our best ever tournament. Pure and simple we have some phenomenal match-ups.

Sealed with a kiss: Fares Dessouky celebrates winning the 2022 Canary Wharf Classic final against Mostafa Asal

“Asal is No.1, Elias is on his tail and Mohamed is chasing No.1 again, so this is probably the most exciting build up we have had.

“Obviously there is huge rivalry and that is just among the Egyptians and now that Mohamed is representing England, Diego Elias from Peru, and Paul Coll from New Zealand well it is very much an international cast and it is great to have Ali Farag back in the mix again.

“Then of course you have the subplots of the draw with Asal and Marwan (El Shorbagy) in the same quarter and after what happened in Houston there will be no love lost, and of course our quarter-finals are best of three and that throws everything wide open.

“Victor Crouin starts the tournament on Sunday in an all-French contest against Sebastien Bonmalais and the winner plays Mostafa Asal on Monday and of course Victor is a big fan of Mostafa’s as Squash Mad readers know!

“But look what Victor did to Paul Coll last year when he beat him very quickly, so if Mostafa is not on his game from the start Victor will be trying to do the same to him and if anything kicks-off the crowd will get involved and the volume will go through the roof.”

For Thatcher, it is the atmosphere produced by the Wharf’s bear pit cauldron that brings out the best in it’s gladiators and he said: “Nick Matthew has said that Canary Wharf is the perfect venue for best of three and the drama it produces and the lower ranked players get stuck in and take it to the big guns and our crowd love it.

“Interviewing all the players on court down through the years after match it is obvious that because Canary Wharf is sold out every day the players know that even on day one, like this Sunday, the bear pit atmosphere, and the way the crowd react to great squash and love the underdog will lift their games. We have a knowledgeable, passionate and at times rowdy crowd and they let the players know what they like and it works a treat.” 

Sunday: Alan Thatcher dissects his top 3 CWC matches

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