The first round of the 2019 Citigold Wealth Management Canary Wharf Classic gets underway today at London’s East Wintergarden, where a best-of-three games format is being trialled.
The action begins at 13:00 GMT, with Egypt’s Mazen Hesham facing former World No.1 James Willstrop on the glass court. They will be followed by another Englishman in Adrian Waller, who faces Raphael Kandra.
The eight matches today will decide who faces the eight seeded players in the second round, which starts tomorrow. In amongst those eight seeds are former World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy, and New Zealand’s Paul Coll, who reached the final of the Canada Cup last time out.
Matches from the glass court inside East Wintergarden will be live on SQUASHTV (rest of world), Eurosport Player (Europe only) and Facebook (excluding Europe and Japan).
Can’t watch the action? You can also follow the live scores from Canary Wharf.
Day One Schedule
Willstrop Dispatches Hesham in Day’s First Match
James Willstrop (right) v Mazen Hesham (left)
Three-time winner James Willstrop got his campaign at the 2019 Citigold Wealth Management Canary Wharf Classic off to a winning start as he defeated Egypt’s Mazen Hesham in the opening match of the PSA World Tour Gold event.
Hesham got the better of Willstrop in their only other meeting on the PSA Tour, winning in straight games at the Houston Open two years ago.
But, inside a sun-drenched East Wintergarden, Willstrop showed his class in a controlled display that saw him limit Hesham’s attacking prowess to win 2-0.
The Canary Wharf Classic is trialling a best-of-three games format for a second year running and the opening game was crucial as Hesham pushed Willstrop all the way as he showed glimpses of his shot-making talents.
But 35-year-old Willstrop drew on his experience to close out the opening game and he controlled the ’T’ well in the second to complete an 11-9, 11-7 victory in 29 minutes.
"It is shots like this, which is why we love to see the Marksman!"— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) March 10, 2019
jameswillstrop</a> as he levels the first game against <a href="https://twitter.com/Thesquashfalcon?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">Thesquashfalcon#CWClassic19 pic.twitter.com/dqfPWx2LWk
“The problem with him is that you know however far you are up, 10-5 or 8-4 or whatever it is, you just know it doesn’t mean anything with him because he hits three or four winners, like he does on a regular basis, then you’re losing those points,” said Willstrop, who will play Australia's Ryan Cuskelly next.
“I was very aware of all that and I’m just glad that I managed to get that last point because it was getting tough. He’s playing all the attacking stuff, so I needed to stop him doing that.
“With the best of three format, it gives me a bit if cushioning on my physicality, which can struggle a little bit in five games. Because it’s only two or three games, I was happy to keep going down the wall a little bit.
“I don’t very often fist pump, but walking into this [atmosphere] this morning, I don’t want to stop doing this job. It’s an incredible thing to walk into this atmosphere, and [Tournament Director] Tim Garner and everyone behind this makes it an incredible event.
“I want to be here tomorrow and play again in that atmosphere. This doesn’t happen by accident, and what a great crowd. It’s become one of the top events on the tour, and it’s certainly one of my favourites.”
James Willstrop (ENG) bt Mazen Hesham (EGY) 2-0: 11-9, 11-7 (29m)
Kandra Ousts Waller in Comfortable Win
Raphael Kandra (right) and Adrian Waller (left) compete against the backdrop of a packed house at East Wintergarden
Germany’s World No.16 Raphael Kandra eased into round two after a 15-minute victory against Englishman Adrian Waller as he made his debut at the Canary Wharf Classic.
All three of their previous matches on the PSA Tour went the distance to five games, with their average match length totalling 71 minutes, however this was the pair’s first meeting in a best-of-three games format.
Waller was on a high after a sensational upset of Peru’s World No.9 Diego Elias at the PSA World Championships a fortnight ago but was unable to get into the match against Kandra as he won just four points during the match.
The 28-year-old German built on strong starts in each of the first two games to record a pair of 11-2 victories, and he will now play World Championship runner-up Tarek Momen in round two.
“Before I went on court today, it was such a great atmosphere when James [Willstrop] and Mazen [Hesham] played and it was the first match of the tournament,” Kandra said afterwards.
“It was packed, and I was so pumped to perform well because I’ve not had a good couple of months. I tried to play my best and it worked out today.
“I think I speak for both of us when I say that it was so equal in Detroit [where Waller won a 3-2 at the Windy City Open]. We tried to leave everything on the court, and in the end Adrian won 11-7 in the fifth.
“We’ve been so close throughout the last couple of years and I wanted revenge today. I’m looking forward to performing another time on this court and let’s see how it goes against Tarek.
“He [Tarek] performed so well at the Worlds, he beat [defending Canary Wharf Classic champion] Mohamed ElShorbagy and he’s so on top of his game at the moment. I’ve never beaten him, but I’ve played him a few times recently and I try to get better every time.”
Raphael Kandra (GER) bt Adrian Waller (ENG) 2-0: 11-2, 11-2 (15m)
Golan Digs Deep to See Off Pilley
Borja Golan (left) v Cameron Pilley (right)
The third match of the day was contested by two veterans of the sport – Borja Golan and Cameron Pilley – with the win going the way of the former as he prevailed 2-1 after 65 minutes.
Golan, the 36-year-old from Santiago, had won his last four encounters with Pilley on the PSA Tour and found his winning shots at the business end of the opening game to take it 11-8.
However, ‘El Toro’ lost his focus in the second as he grew frustrated with some of the refereeing decisions and Australia’s Pilley kept his head to level the scores, dropping six points in the process.
It looked as though Pilley would put Golan to the sword after he took a 6-3 lead in the third, but Golan dug into his mental reserves to stay in the rallies, although he did erroneously attempt to review a video review, much to the bemusement of the crowd.
He was able to keep his mind on the match though and showcased his impressive racket skills to close out an 11-8 triumph in the third to complete the second longest best of three match in the tournament’s history.
“I’ve known Cameron since we were juniors, we’ve been playing for 17 years, we’re now both 36 and we’re good friends,” Golan said.
“Best of three is even harder, you have to be alert to every ball, the pressure is even higher, the nerves are higher, but we play in front of such a good crowd, it’s only the first round and it’s full.
“I think I just realised that I was playing too much to the front and I wasn’t doing enough damage to Cameron. He was very accurate to the front, so I tried to put the ball into the back corners, tried to make it more physical and waited for his mistakes.
“He made a few more than me today and that made the difference in a few points.”
Defending champion Mohamed ElShorbagy awaits Golan in the next round.
Golan said: “At the moment, I just want to enjoy this victory, recover well and tomorrow I will start thinking about the match, but today I will just relax and enjoy this win. Tomorrow is very important to me.”
Borja Golan (ESP) bt Cameron Pilley (AUS) 2-1: 11-8, 6-11, 11-8 (65m)
James Beats Lobban to Book Last 16 Spot
Declan James (left) v Greg Lobban (right)
World No.20 Declan James got the better of Scotland’s Greg Lobban to book his place in the last 16, where he will line up against Egypt’s World No.10 Marwan ElShorbagy.
The head-to-head record between the pair was locked at two wins apiece coming into today’s match, with each player taking it in turns to record victories, starting with James’s triumph the first time they met back in 2012.
Lobban got the win when they met in the final round of qualifying at this tournament 12 months ago, but James hit his lines well and moved Lobban around the court to great effect as he completed an 11-8, 11-5 victory in 31 minutes.
“I think we both started pretty nervously and there was a bit of traffic in the middle,” James said.
“I think that was because there were a few nerves and we weren’t quite hitting through the ball, that’s why it got a little bit scrappy. The end of the first was crucial really, I managed to find my basics and was able to put away a couple of shots at the end.
“I managed to carry on that concentration in the second because I knew that Greg was going to come out and throw everything at me. Fortunately, I got into a good lead and, while I had a bit of a wobble at the end there, I’m glad to get over the line.”
Declan James (ENG) bt Greg Lobban (SCO) 2-0: 11-8, 11-5 (31m)
Selby Battles Back to Knock Out Parker
Daryl Selby (r) beat compatriot George Parker to reach the second round
Daryl Selby came through in a thrilling three-game battle against fellow Englishman George Parker to reach the second round of the Citigold Wealth Management Canary Wharf Classic.
The 36-year-old had won the only previous match-up between the pair, when he won in four at the St George’s Hill Open back in 2015.
However, it was the World No.31 who came flying out of the blocks. Parker won the first game 11-5, but Selby came fighting back to win the match.
He won both the second and third games 11-6, as he showed the fighting spirit which saw him win three matches in five games at the British Nationals in February.
“I knew it would be [tough], George is a phenomenal athlete, a phenomenal player and to be honest, he is only getting better,” Selby said after the win.
“Every win I can get against him I cherish now, because, and I have told him many times before, I think he is going to go to the top. He has a few things that he is always working on, but I am happy to beat George to be honest, it was a tough draw.”
“[I wasn’t] happy with the first game. Every time, I am still struggling with this best of three format, in terms of getting going. I am old and still not learning as I should be. George got off to a fast start, and it is always tough when you are 1-0 down, but I am really happy with the way I played in the last two games. I feel like I played really good squash and I kept my composure from 6-3 down to win 11-6.
“That is all it takes, a little bit of experience, and I have to use that now because it is an asset, it is one of my strengths. I am just happy to win.”
Daryl Selby (ENG) bt George Parker (ENG) 2-1: 5-11, 11-6, 11-6 (52m)
Castagnet Overpowers Todd to Reach Last 16
Mathieu Castagnet (fore) took just 17 minutes to overcome Sam Todd
Mathieu Castagnet overcame 15-year-old wildcard Sam Todd in straight games to reach the second round of the Citigold Wealth Management Canary Wharf Classic.
The French No.3 faced off against the World No.494 for a place in the last 16, with Castagnet showing his strengths to advance past the junior.
Todd, who was making his Canary Wharf debut, and only his second appearance on the PSA World Tour, pushed the Frenchman hard in the first game.
A glimpse into the future— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) March 10, 2019
sambo_todd93</a> with a sublime touch on his Citigold <a href="https://twitter.com/CWCsquash?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">CWCsquash debut #CitigoldSquashClassic pic.twitter.com/l1WqsPDhcF
However, the 2016 Canary Wharf Champion showed his class in the second game, and set up a clash with the No.2 seed for the tournament, Simon Rösner.
After the match, Castagnet spoke highly of his young opponent, and also about his fond memories of winning the tournament three years ago.
“He surprised me to be honest. I used to train with the French players, the under 13s, 15s and 17s and the quality of his shot was just amazing,” Castagnet said of Todd.
“When he is better physically, and he is more focused on his gameplan, and more solid, he is probably going to be an English No.1, for sure.
“My favourite moment [of 2016] was when I hit the counter drop and Mosaad hit himself and I said to be myself, ‘okay, this is going to be a stroke’. [The ref] gave me the stroke so that moment will be in my head all my life.
“Maybe I switch off from that time. These are my biggest memories so far.”
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt [WC] Sam Todd (ENG) 2-0: 11-6, 11-1 (17m)
Richards Defeats Clyne in Straight Games
Tom Richards (l) overcame Alan Clyne to advance to the second round
Tom Richards became the fourth Englishman to book his place in the second round of the Citigold Wealth Management Canary Wharf Classic, after he beat Alan Clyne.
The Scotsman was a late call-up to the tournament, after Omar Mosaad withdrew. Despite the late notice, Clyne pushed his opponent all the way in the second game.
Richards had won the first game pretty easily, taking it 11-4, but Clyne saved three match balls in the second, before the Englishman regrouped to take the match on a tiebreak.
“I certainly felt like I was moving well, and although I can’t speak for Alan, it felt like he was moving well as well so yeah, [it was] hard work,” Richards said after his victory.
“I had the Worlds in Chicago, came home for a few days and then back out to Toronto and then back a few days ago. Sleeping patterns are a bit out of whack, but it is what I am used to. I guess it is the same for everyone, so it is fine.
“I think for one or two matches, [dealing with jet lag] is fine. Squash isn’t a long sport, you’re not playing for hours. You would hope that you can concentrate for an hour and a half, however sleep deprived you are.
“I guess, if you have four or five days, with four or five matches, then that it where it would get tough.”
Tom Richards (ENG) bt Alan Clyne (SCO) 2-0: 11-4, 12-10 (29m)
Makin Eases Past Marche Into Last 16
Joel Makin overcame Gregoire Marche in the first round
Joel Makin secured his passage through to the second round of the Citigold Wealth Management Canary Wharf Classic after he beat Gregoire Marche.
The pair came into the tournament as the World No.18 and No.17 respectively, but it was the low ranked player that took the victory.
The two had met twice before on the PSA World Tour, with Marche having won both affairs. This time, though, it was the Golden Tiger that took the victory, to set up a clash with Max Lee.
“It is very exciting. I came down earlier today and watched the first couple of matches. The atmosphere has been brilliant, as it always is here in Canary Wharf,” Richards said.
“It is exciting straight from the first round, and we get a lot of exciting matches and that is what we want. I knew I had to really on it today and I was looking forward to it because of that.
“The ball is different, it dies a lot quicker. You have to be a lot more precise going short, and especially in your length, so if you don’t get the ball through, and you are catching sidewalls, then you are going to get picked off around the middle. That is one of the first things you work out when you are playing a match on a glass court.
“I thought I was taking the ball in better tonight. Sometimes on the glass court, it makes it easier because you have to commit to it, you have to cut it in and leave it short if you want to beat these guys on a glass court.”
Joel Makin (WAL) bt Gregoire Marche (FRA) 2-0: 11-5, 11-7 (32m)