El Shorbagy aims to break English stranglehold at Canary Wharf

PSA $50k Canary Wharf Squash Classic, East Wintergarden, Canary Wharf, London


[3] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) bt Henrik Mustonen (Fin) 3-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-6, 11-9 (52m)
[2] James Willstrop (Eng) bt Daryl Selby (Eng) 11-7, 11-5, 11-7 (47m)
[1] Nick Matthew (Eng) bt Steve Coppinger (Rsa) 11-6, 11-4, 10-12, 11-3 (57m)
[4] Peter Barker (Eng) bt Tom Richards (Eng) 8-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-7 (56m)

El Shorbagy aims to break English stranglehold at Canary Wharf


Alan Thatcher reports

Egyptian No.3 seed Mohamed El Shorbagy is hoping to break the domestic stranglehold on the Canary Wharf Classic. El Shorbagy is the lone non-English player in the semi-finals after surviving a massive battle with Finnish qualifier Henrik Mustonen.

13CW5612The 22-year-old Egyptian meets three-times champion James Willstrop in the semi-finals, with reigning champion Nick Matthew, who has won the last three finals, contemplating an all-English encounter with Peter Barker. Mustonen came desperately close to springing another surprise victory.

After beating world No.17 Adrian Grant in the first round, Mustonen adopted a fearless policy against the world No.5 who was runner-up to Ramy Ashour in the recent World Championship. Mustonen, the world No.53 from Hollola, stunned El Shorbagy with a high-paced attack to win the opening game 11-3.

El Shorbagy was clearly taken by surprise but worked his way into the second game with some powerful kills at the front of the court. Mustonen hit back to win the third with some phenomenal retrieving but El Shorbagy won the fourth with some positive play and devastating straight kills at the front of the court.

13CW5329He began the fifth in sensational style, blitzing his way to a 6-1 lead, but Mustonen staged a spectacular recovery to draw level at 7-7, aided by two tinned service returns from his opponent. It was anyone’s match at 8-8 but El Shorbagy finished strongly to book his place in the semi-finals.

He said: “I was taken by surprise in the first game by the way Henrik played at such a fast pace. He had nothing to lose and went flat out, going for everything. I had no injury worries or anything like that. It was all down to the way he played.”

13CW5712No.2 seed Willstrop was on top form as he overcame the challenge of England rival Daryl Selby in straight games. Selby, fresh from a win over England No.1 Matthew in Kuwait last week, was unable to make inroads against Willstrop’s immaculate court control.

Willstrop said: “I didn’t need to think about Daryl’s win over Nick last week to know that he is a top player. It was always going to be a huge battle, especially here, where he enjoys such enormous support.

“But I was very pleased with the way I played. It was a fairly comprehensive performance and I’m pleased to win in straight games. Mohamed is already five in the world. We know what an outstanding player he is already and it should be another great match.”

13AE6485Matthew produced a polished performance against world No.20 Steve Coppinger.

The tall South African did well to hit back from 8-4 down to win the third game 12-10, with one amazing shot off his toes to take him to game ball, but Matthew reasserted his authority in the fourth, reaching 10-1 before Coppinger claimed two points to make the scoreline more respectable. Coppinger, like Matthew’s opponent last night, Miguel Angel Rodriguez, is coached by Australia’s former world champion David Palmer.

Matthew said: “David has got together a good group of players and they can benefit from the fact that he has only just retired and knows all of the current players. He is therefore able to pass on some significant information to his players about their opponents.

SH_190“Steve played very well tonight and in the third game it just shows that you can never ease up. I was getting close to a 3-0 win but he came back strongly to win it.”

13AE7609Barker fought back from a game down to beat English rival Tom Richards 3-1 in 56 minutes to book a semi-final clash with Matthew. Barker was runner-up to the Yorkshireman in 2011 and last year kept him on court for 94 minutes in the semi-final before Matthew went on to win his third Canary Wharf title against James Willstrop.

Barker said: “There are fine lines between winning and losing at the top end of any sport. I’m eight in the world and Tom is 12 and the match was very close. Tom attacked strongly at the start but I didn’t do anything wrong in that game. I just decided to stick to my game plan and it worked.

“I want to thank the crowd for staying right to the end. It means a lot to play in front of a full house because the atmosphere gives us a big lift.

“Nick in the semi-finals will be another massive match. I have only beaten him once so tomorrow would be a good day to do it again. I got my first win against James Willstrop on this court so why not another one tomorrow?”

Tournament website: www.canarywharfsquash.com

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