Crowd favourites Nick Matthew and James Willstrop powered their way through to the quarter-finals of this week’s Canary Wharf Squash Classic to delight the packed crowds at the East Wintergarden.
Top seed Matthew showed his class as he began his quest for a fifth title by beating wild card Eddie Charlton, a frequent training partner in Yorkshire, in straight games on Monday, March 23.
However, the battling Charlton gave a good account of himself and one of the rallies was clocked at more than 100 shots.
For Willstrop, his return to Canary Wharf on Tuesday, March 24, was an emotional occasion but also represented a major physical milestone after several months out of action following a hip operation.
Any doubts about his fitness were immediately dispelled as he won his opening game against Egyptian Omar Meguid without dropping a point.
The 11-0 scoreline is known as a bagel and it was Willstrop’s first in 12 consecutive years of competing in the tournament. Meguid, who had beaten Redbridge rocket Richie Fallows in the qualifying competition, earned a huge cheer when he won his first point in the second game.
Willstrop said: “Those months out of the game were very difficult but reminded me of how much I love playing squash, and especially this tournament.
“It feels very good to be back on court. With a new glass court, and full-house crowds every night, it doesn’t get much better than this.”
Willstrop’s win took him through to a quarter-final battle of the giants with Germany’s number four seed Simon Rosner, like Willstrop 6ft 4in tall. Matthew met fiery young Egyptian Fares Dessouki, who overwhelmed Enfield’s Adrian Waller in the first round.
Matthew had a surprise on court on Monday night. Three years ago his match was interrupted by an emergency call trying to locate a spectator who was due to have a kidney transplant.
The operation was a success and on Monday the recipient of that new kidney, Paul Dowdall from Redbridge, was invited on to court to meet his squash hero and celebrate in front of the crowd.
FIRST ROUND RESULTS
(6) Daryl Selby (Eng) beat (Q) Joe Lee 11-7, 17-15, 9-11, 11-7
(3) Borja Golan (Spain) beat Laurens Jan Anjema (Netherlands) 11-7, 11-4, 10-12, 11-7
(1) Nick Matthew (Eng) beat Eddie Charlton (Eng) 11-4, 11-5, 11-7
(8) Fares Dessouki (Egypt) beat Adrian Waller (England) 11-3, 11-4, 11-5
(7) Max Lee (Hong Kong) beat Mazen Hesham (Egypt) 9-11, 11-3, 11-9, 8-11, 11-9
(2) Peter Barker (Eng) beat (Q) Mohamed Abouelghar (Egypt) 11-7, 11-5, 11-8
(4) Simon Rosner (Germany) beat (Q) Lucas Serme 11-5, 11-9, 11-6
(5) James Willstrop (Eng) beat (Q) Omar Abdel Meguid (Egypt) 11-0, 11-9, 11-7
Full details on canarywharfsquash.com.