Thursday, 14 February 2008

Local boy Barker goes for glory in ISS Canary Wharf Squash Classic

ISS Canary Wharf Squash Classic 2008Courtesy of Alan Thatcher at www.squashuk.com:

Squash star Peter Barker has a special reason for wanting to do well in the forthcoming ISS Canary Wharf Squash Classic - he will soon be a local resident ...

World No.12 Barker is moving from Bethnal Green to Limehouse and is sure to enjoy huge local support when London's premier squash tournament takes place at the superb East Wintergarden venue from March 10-14.

Barker, the current world No.12, is moving from Bethnal Green to Limehouse in May and said: "If the tournament was two months later I could walk from home to the venue."

Barker is sure to enjoy considerable local support when the five-star PSA World Series event returns to the spectacular East Wintergarden venue from March 10-14.

The left-handed Londoner is enjoying the best form of his life, and warmed up for the Canary Wharf tournament by reaching the final of the Swedish Open on Sunday.

He lost to England team-mate James Willstrop in a superb match and the two could meet again in the ISS Canary Wharf final. However, for that to happen, Barker would need to remove the number one seed, French ace Gregory Gaultier, whom he is seeded to meet in the semi-final.

Barker, 24, admitted: "I have never beaten Greg before. I lost to him in Saudi Arabia last year and was not too happy with my performance. You know you’ve got to give everything when you play guys like him.

"I was very pleased with the way I played in Sweden and I hope to carry on that form. I beat Olli Tuominen of Finland in the semi-final and that was the best I have played for months.

"I felt I played well in the final against James, but everything I did he did just a little bit better. I am very optimistic about the next few months and I am really looking forward to playing at Canary Wharf.

"It’s a brilliant tournament and lots of my friends will be coming along to cheer me on."

Barker faces fellow Essex player Daryl Selby in the first round, just as he did in Sweden, and is scheduled to meet Cameron Pilley in the quarter-finals if the tall Australian can beat the mercurial Italian Davide Bianchetti.

Barker achieved a sensational victory over Pilley as England beat Australia to win the World Team Championship in India in December.

Barker added: “I beat world number one Amr Shabana in Qatar last year and I suppose that was a career highlight from an individual point of view, but winning the World Team Championship with England was definitely the greater achievement.”

In the draw for the ISS Canary Wharf Classic, Willstrop, the number two seed, is scheduled to meet a qualifier in the first round followed by Welsh veteran Alex Gough ahead of a possible semi-final clash with his Pontefract training partner Lee Beachill.

Willstrop achieved his first career victory over his Yorkshire and England team-mate at Canary Wharf last year and is bidding for a third triumph in London’s premier squash tournament, having beaten Thierry Lincou of France in the 2004 final and Scotland's John White last year.

Willstrop, the world number six, is seeded to meet French star Gaultier in the final. Their rivalry goes back to junior days and their matches are always absorbing physical and mental battles.

Gaultier, the reigning British Open champion from Aix-en-Provence, faces fellow Frenchman Renan Lavigne in the first round at Canary Wharf and is seeded to meet rising Egyptian star Mohammed Abbas, the number five seed, in the quarter finals.

The first round draw at Canary Wharf also includes an intriguing clash between Finland’s No.6 seed Olli Tuominen and Britain’s Joey Barrington, son of squash legend Jonah. Tuominen and Barrington are both noted for their attritional styles and spectators at the East Wintergarden could well be in for a marathon match.

The first round will be split over two evenings, meaning that office workers at Canary Wharf can stroll from their desks to the tournament venue in time for play to start at 5.30pm.

Sadly, England star Nick Matthew has been forced to take a long rest from squash because of a shoulder injury and will not be in action at Canary Wharf.

Tickets are on sale via the Ticket Hotline, 0844 847 2419, or via the website www.ticketmaster.co.uk.

ISS Canary Wharf Squash Classic

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