Top seed goes clubbing to win latest PSA title
By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Editor
James Willstrop has graced glass show courts in some of the most spectacular squash venues on the planet. For his latest PSA title, he went clubbing in south-west London.
Willstrop, the top seed in the Squash Squared Wimbledon Open, overcame Egyptian number two seed Omar Meguid in four hard-fought games.
The 32-year-old former world number one triumphed 11-8, 11-7, 8-11, 11-4 in 62 minutes. The gallery numbered just a few dozen spectators squeezed in behind the glass-backed court at the Wimbledon Club, a superb sports club situated opposite the gates of the All-England Club.
The tournament has been several years in gestation, and emerged as a significant success with Willstrop the main draw card.
It added immense quality to the $25k PSA field, with Meguid one of many willing and handy opponents.
After Willstrop had won the opening two games, Meguid took the third but the Englishman recovered to dominate the fourth for the loss of just four points.
Willstrop clearly enjoyed his week back in clubland, and was impressed by the quality of his semi-final opponent, rising England hopeful Declan James.
Joshua Masters was the surprise packet of the tournament, powering through from qualifying to reach the semi-finals in the other half of the draw, where his run ended against Meguid, but not before the Bristol-based Kent player had taken a game off the Egyptian.
Yorkshireman Willstrop, recovered from a chest infection that hampered his progress at Canary Wharf, was in superb form throughout the event and downed a trio of fellow Englishman in straight games to reach the final. Meguid, meanwhile, is in excellent form and had won three of his last four PSA World Tour events heading into the tournament in Wimbledon.
It was the pair’s second professional meeting, with Willstrop prevailing in their first encounter at last year’s Canary Wharf Classic. Both players controlled the opening game in patches but it was Willstrop’s error-free display that saw him take it to build up a 1-0 advantage.
Meguid rallied and surged into a five-point lead in game two but Willstrop’s pinpoint accuracy and masterful shot-selection soon came to the fore as he took 11 of the next 13 points to go two games to the good.
A resilient Meguid battled back though in the third and the man from Giza overturned a three-point Willstrop lead to reduce the arrears as he sought to gain a foothold in the encounter.
Willstrop responded with some hard, accurate hitting and outmanoeuvred his opponent impressively to close out the fourth game, earning an 11-8, 11-7, 8-11, 11-4 triumph which will give the World No.13 plenty of confidence heading into next week’s prestigious Allam British Open where he has finished as a runner-up on three occasions.
“It was a very high intensity match,” Willstrop said. “We are two big fellows, I don’t think that there are two bigger or heavier players than us on the Tour so I think that we did pretty well.
“I’m very happy to play at that level. I hope the crowd enjoyed it and I’m thrilled to win the title. When you’ve been in the [world’s] top 10, you have more experience with the big points, you work very hard for hours and it allows us to have the knack to be able to put the ball away at crucial times.
“The level is so high, it’s been tight squash from the first match. I’m in the top 15 [in the world] and Robbie [Downer] in my first match was ranked 123rd and it was tight throughout the match. The depth of the game is just remarkable and I had to use every bit of experience.
“It’s a mental intensity that I think you develop after hours and hours of work and time on court and matches.”
PSA M25 Squash Squared Wimbledon Club Open 2016, The Wimbledon Club, London, England.
 James Willstrop (ENG) v  Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) 11-8, 11-7, 8-11, 11-4 (62m)
 James Willstrop (ENG) bt  Declan James (ENG) 11-9, 11-8, 11-7 (40m)
 Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) bt [Q] Joshua Masters (ENG) 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7 (58m)
 James Willstrop (ENG) bt  Joe Lee (ENG) 11-8, 11-5, 11-6 (38m)
 Declan James (ENG) bt [Q] George Parker (ENG) 11-6, 5-11, 14-12, 9-11, 11-6
[Q] Joshua Masters (ENG) bt [Q] Matthew Hopkin (AUS) 11-5, 11-7, 11-2 (25m)
 Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) bt  Charles Sharpes (ENG) 9-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-5
Pictures by PATRICK LAUSON (www.patricklausonphotography.co.uk)