James Willstrop v Miguel Rodriguez the standout tie in a first-round draw with a heavy Anglo-French feel
By ALAN THATCHER
The revised first round draw at the GillenMarkets Canary Wharf Classic, made necessary by injury and Covid withdrawals, has a distinctly Anglo-French feel to it.
Six Englishmen and five French players are in action tomorrow
Five Frenchmen and six English players are in the draw so there will be plenty for the home crowd to cheer as James Willstrop, Adrian Waller, Patrick Rooney, George Parker, Nathan Lake and wild card Josh Masters all aim to progress to the second round, where the top eight seeds join the fray.
The opening tie sees Masters up against rising French star Victor Crouin, followed by Rooney meeting Egypt’s Mohamed ElSherbini.
Then comes an all-English tie featuring Waller and Parker with a place in the second round against former world champion Tarek Momen up for grabs, plus the added ingredient of a constant focus on England’s Commonwealth Games squad for all matches of this nature over the next few weeks.
As we approach the 19th edition of an event that has grown into one of the most popular on the PSA World Tour, nostalgia has been high on the agenda in recent years as we have bade farewell to so many players who have lit up the East Wintergarden down the years.
Both players have provided huge entertainment for squash audiences all over the world and Sunday’s showdown will be no exception.
Willstrop is now 38 and Rodriguez 36, but they are still competing at the highest level and, with the best of three games format in the early rounds, whoever wins through to play Fares Dessouky on Monday will hope to cause an upset.
As one era makes way for another it feels like a changing of the guard. And this year we will be welcoming six newcomers making their Canary Wharf main draw debuts: England’s Patrick Rooney and Josh Masters, French pair Auguste Dussourd and US College champion Victor Crouin, plus two Egyptians, Mohamed El Sherbini and Moustafa El Sirty.
In the French half of the draw, our 2016 champion Mathieu Castagnet is a late replacement for Youssef Ibrahim and he faces a tough first round tie against Malaysia’s world No.17 Eain Yow Ng.
Dussourd faces the in-form Swiss No.1 Nicolas Mueller, who is fresh from a wonderful week at Wimbledon where he reached the semi-finals and gave Ali Farag a hard time before bowing out. The first game score of 17-15 to the Egyptian maestro is proof of that.
Baptiste Masotti meets Egypt’s El Sirty, while Gregoire Marche faces Lake in the final match of the day with the winner meeting No.2 seed Mostafa Asal in the second round on Tuesday.
It’s a mouthwatering menu for squash-hungry fans who will be foregoing their Sunday lunches in exchange for some tasty entertainment on court.
There is the added potential of two of the best divers in the game, Rodriguez and Marche, thrilling the sellout crowd with some of their finest retrieving.
Bring it on!
GillenMarkets 2022 Canary Wharf Squash Classic, First Round Schedule
2pm: (9/16) Victor Crouin (France) v (WC) Josh Masters (England)
Winner v (1) Paul Coll (New Zealand) on Monday
2.45pm: (9/16) Mohamed Elsherbini (Egypt) v Patrick Rooney (England)
Winner v (8) Mazen Hesham (Egypt) on Monday
3.45pm: (9/16) Adrian Waller (England) v George Parker (England)
Winner v (3) Tarek Momen (Egypt) on Monday
4.30pm: (9/16) Miguel Rodriguez (Colombia) v James Willstrop (England)
Winner v (7) Fares Dessouky (Egypt) on Monday
6pm: (9/16) Eain Yow Ng (Malaysia) v Mathieu Castagnet (France)
Winner v (4) Diego Elias (Peru) on Tuesday
6.45pm: (9/16) Nicolas Mueller (Switzerland) v Auguste Dussourd (France)
Winner v (5) Marwan ElShorbagy (Egypt) on Tuesday
7.45pm: (9/16) Baptiste Masotti (France) v Moustafa El Sirty (Egypt)
Winner v (6) Joel Makin (Wales) on Tuesday
8.30pm: (9/16) Gregoire Marche (France) v Nathan Lake (England)
Winner v (2) Mostafa Asal (Egypt) on Tuesday