Friday, December 1, 2023

Super Selby sinks No.3 seed Golan in Canary Wharf marathon

Drama in mid-court as Daryl Selby clashes with Borja Golan
Drama in mid-court as Daryl Selby clashes with Borja Golan

Tiebreak tussle decides second-longest match in Canary Wharf history as Rosner stops an all-English advance

By LEE HORTON at Canary Wharf 


England’s Daryl Selby came through a “boxing match” to reach his first Canary Wharf semi-final last night after a monumental 125-minute 11-8, 10-12, 11-7, 3-11, 14-12 dust-up against Spanish number 3 seed Borja Golan.

Referee John Massarella had to make an amazing 67 decisions, including 36 in the fifth game alone, as the two players scrapped it out in a show that wouldn’t have been out of place at Madison Square Garden.

“It probably wasn’t the prettiest game tonight. But that can add to the atmosphere in a weird, boxing style kind of way,” said Selby in the understatement of the day.

Remarkably, the players enjoyed a good clean fight for the first three games but the show went south after that.

Dive bomber: Daryl Selby battles past Borja Golan
Dive bomber: Daryl Selby battles past Borja Golan

With lets and strokes peppering the proceedings, Massarella was sweating as much as the players. Whether he will pick up a well-earned bonus has not been established, but he certainly deserved it.

Golan took a 7-3 lead in the first game, but, buoyed by the home crowd, Selby worked his way back into it to take the game 11-8.

All over: Selby celebrates
All over: Selby celebrates

Golan was making most of the running, hitting six winners in the first game – twice as many as Selby. But the game was mostly played at Selby’s slower rhythm and in trying to force the issue, the Spaniard’s errors told.

He was fortunate not to find himself two games down as he saved four game balls in the second to win 12-10 – Selby making two bad, and uncharacteristic errors, on the backhand drop shot from 10-8 before Golan played two superb drops to take it in the tie-break.

Selby took the third, Golan the fourth…then all hell let rip. With more stoppages than the London underground, it wasn’t a classic, but it was memorable. 

Selby wasted a huge chance with a forehand volley opening at 10-8, match ball.

Golan battled back to take it into a tiebreak and held match ball himself at 11-10, but Selby stuck to his task through a succession of lets, blocks and video reviews to reach the last four for the first time after falling at the quarter-final stage five years in a row.

Pain game: fares Dessouki loses to Nick Matthew
Pain game: Fares Dessouki loses to Nick Matthew

NICK MATTHEW remains on course for a fifth Canary Wharf Classic title but he was made to dig deep last night before overcoming Egyptian qualifier Fares Dessouki.

The former three-times world champion faces Essex battler Daryl Selby tonight and will thankful to have got off court in with his impressive record in the Docklands event intact. Selby took over two hours to win his quarter final, Matthew escaped in 76 minutes.

Dessouki, 20, was far from fazed at playing the world number three and took the game to the Yorkshireman. He has plenty of shots in the locker and treated the sell-out crowd to his full repertoire.

Matthew kept his nose in the front during a competitive opener winning 11-7 but the kid from Alexandria is no pushover. Seven winners and few errors helped him bag the second game 12-10 in 20-minutes, and suddenly there was the whiff of an upset in the air.

The third was tight and cagey as the players shared the opening 10 points. Then Matthew turned up the gas and Dessouki’s error count went into over-drive. He clocked up six and suddenly the writing looked on the wall as Matthew bagged it 11-7 in 18 minutes.

But if Matthew, and the crowd, thought it was match over, Dessouki had other ideas. He came out banging opening up an 8-5 lead putting the reigning champion on the back foot. But champions know how to get themselves out of a bind.

A power-surge from the Yorkshireman saw him quickly gain parity and within two minutes it was all over 11-9.

Matthew was relieved to get over the line. “He was fearless and a real handful. It was a stop-start match with very little rhythm. I have to give him credit for that. It was tough following Daryl and Borja. They were on court for over two hours so it’s hard to judge your preparation.

“I’m relatively happy with my game but I know I need to do better.”

SQUASH MAD STAT: Matthew dropped his first GAME in the event since losing the 2013 semi-final to Pete Barker

Nick Matthew slots in a backhand drop shot
Nick Matthew slots in a backhand drop shot

Peter Barker became the second Essex man and third Englishman to reach the semis as he turned on the after-burners to finish off Hong Kong’s Max Lee. Barker took just 43 minutes to blast his opponent off the court, in stark contrast to the opening two matches of the evening which had taken more than three hours.

unnamedLee looked slightly jaded after his 76-minute first-round win over Mazen Hesham on Monday and Barker, one of the fittest men on the circuit, is the last person you’d want to face if the legs are weary.

Barker rattled through the first game in just 11 minutes (11-4) and even managed to shave a minute off that as he gobbled up the second (11-7). One TV commentator suggested Barker was in a rush because he had a restaurant table booked for the evening, and he could be right. Hopefully he doesn’t eat his food as quickly as he plays his squash.

Lee prolonged the proceedings in the third as he found his range and touch but the outcome was predictable and inevitable. At 5-5 Barker upped the ante, moved for the kill and marched to match ball. Lee battled hard and the penultimate rally was a classic, but the game was up. 11-8, 16 minutes, thank you and goodnight.

“Max was a little bit tired but I’m really pleased with 90 per cent of that game,” said Barker afterwards. “Hopefully I can keep that going tomorrow. I hope James and Simon in the next match goes to 16-14 in the fifth. It will help me a lot.

“This is my home tournament. I want to play well this week and show people who have supported me for years I don’t actually sit around all day doing nothing.”

Peter Barker has Max Lee scampering across the court
Peter Barker has Max Lee scampering across the court

Simon Rosner clearly had other ideas, and stopped it becoming four Englishmen into the semi-finals when he claimed his first PSA victory over James Willstrop, easing through 11-3, 11-2, 11-5 with a display of controlled squash against an opponent who appeared to suffering from movement problems.

Still, Rosner was pleased with his composure and said: “Obviously I’m very happy to be in the semi-finals here for the very first time and it feels amazing to get my first win over James.

“I know James has been coming back from an operation but I had to concentrate all the time and I was very pleased with the way I kept my focus through all three games.

“It is so easy to switch off but I was very pleased that my error level was very low and I hope to keep that form going into the semi-finals tomorrow against Peter Barker.”

Simon Rosner gets up into the front right corner
Simon Rosner gets up into the front right corner


Canary Wharf Classic, East Wintergarden, Canary Wharf, London.


(6) Daryl Selby (England) beat (3) Borja Golan (Spain) 11-8, 10-12, 11-7, 3-11, 14-12 (125 mins)
(1) Nick Matthew (Eng) beat (8) Fares Dessouki (Egypt) 11-7, 10-12, 11-7, 11-8 (77 mins)
(2) Peter Barker (England) beat (7) Max Lee (Hong Kong) 11-4, 11-7, 11-8 (43 mins)
(4) Simon Rosner (Germany) beat (5) James Willstrop (England) 11-3, 11-2, 11-5 (37 mins)

Matthew v Selby (6.30pm).
Barker v Rosner (7.30pm)

Pictures by STEVE LINE (


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