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Ali Farag

Canary Wharf Classic: Day Two - As it Happens

Join us here for reports and reaction from day two of the Canary Wharf Classic as first round action continues in London's East Wintergarden,

Number two seed Ali Farag takes on tournament wildcard Nathan Lake as he searches for his 150th PSA World Tour win, while four-time winner James Willstrop begins his tournament against fellow Brit Greg Lobban.

Australia's Ryan Cuskelly features in the day's first match against Spain's Borja Golan, while World No.6 Tarek Momen is also in action and he will take on France's Gregoire Marche.

You can watch LIVE coverage on SQUASHTV and Eurosport Player.

Here's the SQUASHTV & Eurosport Player Order of Play
(All times are local GMT)

Cuskelly Claims Maiden Win over Golan to Reach Last Eight

Ryan Cuskelly

World No.19 Ryan Cuskelly defeated Spain’s Borja Golan for the first time on the PSA World Tour after a 2-1 victory for the Australian No.1 saw him move into the quarter-finals.

Cuskelly had never taken more than a game against the former World No.5 in all three of their previous meetings on the Tour but, over the best-of-three games scoring format which is being trialled at Canary Wharf, took a 2-1 victory to improve on last year’s first round defeat to six-time winner Nick Matthew.

Golan started the better of the two as he took the ball early and attacked well to amass a 5-3 lead, but Cuskelly stepped up the court and took the game to Golan as he rattled off eight successive points to take a one game lead.

The second game saw Golan read Cuskelly a lot better as he pushed ahead to level in the second, but a blood break at the beginning of the third – which occurred after a dive from Golan saw him graze his finger – seemed to halt the Spaniard’s flow.

Cuskelly had the better of a slightly scrappy affair to go four match balls up and, despite Golan saving one of them, the Australian converted to take an 11-5, 6-11, 11-7 victory in 63 minutes.

“It was a tough match,” said Cuskelly.

“It was my first time playing best of three and I was very edgy because every point is pretty important and Golan has had some good results in the last few weeks.

“He won the tournament in Montreal, so I knew it would be tough. It was a good game I thought and we were both pretty tense. I relaxed at the end of the game which was good. I started hitting a few more shots and got better as the match went on.

“It’s good to try it [best of three], a lot of sports are trying shorter versions. Golf’s doing super sixes and cricket’s got Twenty20, so I think squash has got to follow suit, try it and see how it goes.

“I was trying my hardest every point and it was tough. It’s a different pressure, every point counts and you want to get that first game. Obviously you want to win 2-0 but I’m happy to win 2-1.”

[7] Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt Borja Golan (ESP) 2-1: 11-5, 6-11, 11-7 (63m)

Farag Downs Lake to Claim Quarters Berth

Ali Farag (right) v Nathan Lake (left)

Egypt’s World No.3 Ali Farag capped his Canary Wharf Classic debut with a 2-0 win over tournament wildcard Nathan Lake to set up a quarter-final clash with Australian Ryan Cuskelly.

Farag and left-hander Lake had never met before on the PSA World Tour, and it was the latter who came flying out of the traps as he matched Farag stride for stride and played at a level that belied his ranking of World No.50.

It wasn’t until Lake had surged into a 5-2 lead that Farag finally adapted to the Englishman’s style of play and, as he grew into the match, he extended the rallies to work Lake around the court.

That approach paid dividends as he overturned the deficit to prevail in the opening game and he stormed into a 6-0 lead in the second.

Lake’s tenacity came to the fore as he battled valiantly and he brought the scores back to 9-8 in Farag’s favour, but he was unable to fully knock the Egyptian off his stride and Farag closed out the win by an 11-8, 11-9 margin to move through to the last eight.

“He never made it easy, even when I was 6-0 up in the second,” said Farag.

“I thought I had him but he never gave up and he took the game to me. He made it very hard until the very end and I’m very happy to get through. We’re very good friends off court, so it’s a pleasure playing him and I’m happy to get the win, especially in the first round in Canary Wharf.

“It’s my first ever appearance here and it’s an unbelievable tournament.

“It’s too early to form an opinion [on best of three] at the moment but I think the most important thing is that we need to try it out. For anything in life, if it’s sport or a business, you have to change and always evolve and I think that, even if it’s not the right change for the sport, we need to keep trying new things.

“Thanks to Canary Wharf because it always takes the initiative, such as the three referees system to start with then back to the one referee system with the video decisions and now with the best of three.”

[2] Ali Farag (EGY) bt [WC] Nathan Lake (ENG) 2-0: 11-8, 11-9 (32m)

Momen Comes Through to Beat Marche

Tarek Momen (right) v Gregoire Marche (left)

In-form Egyptian Tarek Momen advanced to the last eight courtesy of a controlled 2-0 victory over French qualifier Gregoire Marche as he made his first appearance in East Wintergarden since 2012.

Momen had won five of their previous six meetings on the PSA World Tour, with Marche’s only win over the World No.6 coming in the second round of the 2016 Qatar Classic in a thrilling five-game clash, while Momen beat the World No.29 in last month’s Windy City Open.

But, over a best-of-three games format, Tournament of Champions runner-up Momen was too good for his opponent in Canary Wharf and profited off a number of errors from Marche to take the opening game, charging ahead from 7-6 up after a closely contested start to proceedings.

It was all Momen in the second game as he picked Marche off with some sublime winners, while Marche found the tin with regularity and it was the man from Egypt who came out on top to progress to the quarter-finals, where he will take on either four-time winner James Willstrop or Scotland’s Greg Lobban.

“I’m feeling good, it’s my first time here since 2012 and it’s been six years,” said Momen.

“I’ve always loved this venue and every year I skip it I feel it is a shame because the draw is just too strong and sometimes you’re seeking points. I’m happy that I’m in a position now where I can afford to play.

“I’m happy with the way I played today, Greg is a very tricky opponent. We just played last week and it was a very tough match. I didn’t want him to catch me off guard, I was really focused today and I’m glad that it turned out to be a 2-0 win.

“The good thing about this match is that we both try as hard as we can to go for the shots and not go into each other’s path, so we see a clean match and it’s good for everyone.”

[4] Tarek Momen (EGY) bt [Q] Gregoire Marche (FRA) 2-0: 11-7, 11-6 (32m)

Willstrop on Form to See off Lobban

James Willstrop (right) v Greg Lobban (left)

Four-time Canary Wharf Classic champion James Willstrop showcased some of his best squash to see off the threat of Scottish qualifier Greg Lobban, setting up an intriguing quarter-final matchup with Egypt’s Tarek Momen.

Lobban had beaten top qualifying seed Declan James to qualify for the main draw of this tournament for the first time and brought the best out of Willstrop as he covered the court well and hit some fine shots of his own to push the Yorkshireman hard at the beginning of both games.

But Willstrop, the current World No.15, showed his class as he first pulled away from six points apiece to open up a one-game lead, while his consistently accurate shots put Lobban on the back foot as he recovered from 5-4 down in the second to earn his spot in tomorrow’s quarter-finals.

“I’m very pleased to win that,” Willstrop said afterwards.

“These qualifiers have had two matches, they’re into the swing of it and Greg, whether he’s had those matches or not, is going to be hard, he’s improving a lot.

“He’s so strong and so fast and I know that rankings show a certain story but the players don’t even look at that story really. I had to prepare so well and I’m really pleased to win.

“This best of three is a fantastic sharpener for everyone and you have to bring more out of yourself. It’s not to say we don’t bring a lot out in best of five but it’s maybe like long-distance running compared to a 1500m.

“It’s completely different, it changes the whole thing and it’s fascinating stuff for us. The idea is that it’s fascinating for the crowd so hopefully it’s working. I think professional squash is in very good shape thanks to the PSA and all the work they’re doing.”

[6] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [Q] Greg Lobban (SCO) 2-0: 11-6, 11-7 (33m)

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