World No.24 Declan James got the better of fellow Englishman Adrian Waller at London’s East Wintergarden to set up a second round encounter with World No.2 Ali Farag at the St. James’s Place Canary Wharf Classic.
The pair have met several times on the PSA World Tour since first going head-to-head in 2016, with James winning four of their seven previous fixtures.
It was their first meeting over a best-of-three games format and the first game was an attritional affair, which James won 12-10 after 29 minutes of action.
Some frustration from Waller directed at the referee after an early decision at the beginning of the second game saw him penalised by a conduct stroke, with he was also threatened with a conduct game if his remonstrations continued.
World No.20 Waller initially settled down but was unable to knock James off his stride, with James moving up to four match balls ahead, before Waller was handed another conduct stroke due to racket abuse after caning his racket off his own leg, handing the win to James.
“I don’t think either of us were quite at our best,” James said.
“When you play in a venue like this, you’re so desperate to win and play another day and another match here, so there are going to be some nerves. In the first game we were both a bit rattled and I managed to be a bit more solid.
“Then he gave me a couple of errors in the second and the frustration was there, so it was a shame to finish that way.
“I love playing Ali, he’s one of the best players in the world and is a pure squash player. We always have great games played in great spirit, hopefully that’s a little bit better to watch for the crowd as well, so I’m looking forward to that one.”
Declan James (ENG) bt Adrian Waller (ENG) 2-0: 12-10, 11-6 (43m)