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Nick Matthew with the 2017 Canary Wharf Classic trophy

Throwback Thursday: Story of 2017 Canary Wharf Classic

England’s Nick Matthew proved that there was life in the old Wolf yet after the veteran – then 36 years of age – lifted his sixth Canary Wharf Classic crown after beating Egypt’s Fares Dessouky in a captivating final clash in the iconic setting of London’s East Wintergarden last March.

Prior to the tournament, Matthew pledged to donate his prize money to the #Sunshine4Sumner campaign to help fund the treatment costs of 11-year-old squash player Sumner Malik, who suffers from Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma – a rare form of brain cancer.

And the classy Yorkshireman took the maximum prize on offer, with his 3-1 victory over Dessouky seeing him pick up over $11,000, with every penny of that going towards helping Sumner.

First Round Results
[1] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 3-0: 15-13, 12-10, 11-2 (65m)
[8] Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt [Q] Joel Makin (WAL) 3-0: 11-2, 11-8, 11-4 (57m)
[6] Daryl Selby (ENG) bt [Q] Charles Sharpes (ENG) 3-0: 14-12, 11-6, 12-10 (46m)
Paul Coll (NZL) bt [3] Simon Rösner (GER) 3-2: 11-8, 9-11, 12-10, 9-11, 11-9 (116m)
[4] Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt Tom Richards (ENG) 3-0: 11-9, 11-5, 11-5 (40m)
[5] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt [WC] Lyell Fuller (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-1, 11-5 (35m)
[7] Borja Golan (ESP) bt [Q] Declan James (ENG) 3-0: 11-1, 11-4, 12-10 (43m)
[Q] Lucas Serme (FRA) bt [2] Marwan Elshorbagy (EGY) 3-1: 11-9, 11-9, 7-11, 11-7 (55m)

Matthew outlined his title credentials early on with an assured victory over the dangerous Australian Ryan Cuskelly in straight games on the opening day of the tournament and then watched on as the man he was seeded to meet in the semi-finals – number three seed Simon Rösner – fell to a surprise defeat against New Zealand’s Paul Coll.

Coll had announced himself to the squash world at this tournament in 2016 when his incredible diving and athletic retrievals against four-time winner James Willstrop made him a viral star.

The Kiwi star prevailed in a brutal five-game battle with Rösner after two hours of intense squash to claim a quarter-final berth, while second seed Marwan ElShorbagy was toppled by French qualifier Lucas Serme the following day in a result that sent shockwaves through the draw.

Quarter-Final Results
[1] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [8] Cameron Pilley (AUS) 3-0: 11-4, 11-9, 11-8 (54m)
Paul Coll (NZL) bt [6] Daryl Selby (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-3, 12-10 (59m)
[4] Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt [5] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-1: 11-7, 9-11, 11-3, 11-6 (61m)
[7] Borja Golan (ESP) bt [Q] Lucas Serme (FRA) 3-0: 14-12, 11-7, 11-6 (58m)

In the last eight, defending champion Mathieu Castagnet fell after a 3-1 defeat to Dessouky, while Coll’s run continued courtesy of a 3-0 victory over home favourite Daryl Selby.

Coll’s win earned him a semi-final place against Matthew, with the man from Sheffield disposing of Australia’s Cameron Pilley as his ruthless pursuit of the title continued unabated.

Former World No.5 Borja Golan was the other victor in the quarter-finals as he ended the giant-killing run of Serme to set up a last four meeting with Dessouky.

Semi-Final Results
[1] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt Paul Coll (NZL) 3-0: 11-9, 11-8, 11-5 (55m)
[4] Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt [7] Borja Golan (ESP) 3-2: 12-10, 15-17, 13-11, 11-13, 11-6 (124m)

What followed was a scrappy affair between the Spaniard and the Egyptian, which saw the referee called into action over 50 times during the 124 minute encounter.

With a place in the final at stake, tensions were high and the opening game went all the way to a dramatic 15-13 tie-break finish. Dessouky took it but from then on the match descended into chaos, with decision after decision from the referees interrupting the flow of what could have been a superb battle.

When it was clean, the pair put together some rallies of the highest quality but they were few and far between until Dessouky eventually prevailed 11-5 in the fifth game.

The other game was a contrasting affair as Matthew showed his big game experience and composure to win in three against the in-form New Zealander to move into his sixth Canary Wharf Classic final, where he had a 100 per cent win rate.

Final Result
[1] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [4] Fares Dessouky (EGY) 3-1: 11-9, 11-7, 10-12, 11-8 (70m)

The experienced Englishman then felled Dessouky – 14 years his senior – in the final to lift a record sixth Canary Wharf Classic title and the 35th PSA World Tour title of his career.

Matthew took advantage of Dessouky’s weary legs to open up a first game lead, which he then doubled, before a purple patch from the younger man saw him fight back to take the third against the run of play.

But the Matthew charge resumed in the fourth as he redoubled his efforts and he was delighted to pick up the prestigious title once more.

“He had a long, hard match last night and it’s so hard mentally to recover from a match like that, but he showed just how tough is his the way he came back in that third game,” said the three-time World Champion afterwards.

“I know what it’s like to back up a tough semi-final, it’s so hard, so it’s credit to him for the way he pushed me. I never really felt settled on there, I was never that far in front of him so it was a bit of a concentration battle – but I’m happy to come through and get the win and I’m very proud of the achievement.

“For me it’s also just such a pleasure to play here – I truly missed this tournament last year. The Friday night crowd at Canary Wharf is the best on Tour.”

Speaking about Sumner and the money he donated, Matthew said: “I know the the Malik family and they live and breathe squash. We’re fortunate to do what we do for a living and we take it for granted at times.

“I don’t want any thanks or personal gain for doing it, it’s about raising awareness for him and it’s the least that I can do. I’m a parent myself and hopefully he can have a great life ahead of him and I’m glad that I’ve been able to give them a good fund.”

The Englishman will be hoping to repeat the feat this year as he lines up at the Canary Wharf Classic next week for the final time – can 'The Wolf' sign out in style?

The 2018 Canary Wharf Classic takes place between March 5-9 and will be shown LIVE on SQUASHTV (Rest of World), Eurosport Player (Europe only), BT Sport and more

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