Willstrop left searching for magic formula to down Matthew

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NICK Matthew continued his dominance over Yorkshire rival James Willstrop to clinch his third Canary Wharf Classic title in London.

The world No 2, from Sheffield, made it 20 straight wins over his Leeds-based opponent, who replaced him as world No 1 at the start of March for the second time since the turn of the year.

Last night’s 11-7, 11-8, 11-9 defeat – secured after a typically gruelling 78 minutes between the two – will have been particularly hard to take for 28-year-old Willstrop, this being the third time this year that he has lost to Matthew at the final stage.

Matthew’s earlier triumphs over his fellow Yorkshireman came in the Tournament of Champions in New York and the British National Championships in Manchester.

The last time Willstrop enjoyed success over 31-year-old Matthew was in the English Open final in Sheffield back in December 2007.

“James has played well and been the best player in the world over the past five or six months so any win over him at the moment has to be earned the hard way,” said a delighted Matthew who, along with his opponent had endured a number of tough matches at the East Wintergarden throughout the week.

“We both spent a lot of time on court before reaching the final and maybe that was the reason some of the squash was a bit scrappy at times. But the intensity was always there.

“I’m 31 now and know the end of my career is not too far away. But the hunger is still there and especially for matches like this.”

Willstrop, who will remain world No 1 next month despite the result, said he was still happy with his overall game despite the obvious disappointment.

“I have to take something positive out of that match,” he said. “I am happy with my game and am enjoying being at No 1.

“It’s been an amazing few months with Nick and I swapping over at No 1 and it’s nice to hear that I can open another bottle of champagne at the end of the month knowing that I will still be No 1 in April.

“Nick was too good for me (last night) and he has the edge at the moment.”