YORKSHIRE’S domination of the men’s game will continue in London tonight when the top two players in the world meet in the final of a major event for the third time this year.
World No 1 James Willstrop, from Leeds, will pit his skills once again against Sheffield’s Nick Matthew, currently one place below him in the PSA World Tour rankings.
The Canary Wharf Classic provides the latest opportunity for the fierce rivals to shine and, head-to-head, Matthew holds all the advantages, having not lost against his fellow Yorkshireman since December 2007.
The two have shared the top ranking since the turn of the year, after Matthew held on to the position throughout 2011.
Both have endured tough weeks at the prestigious London event and it was no different last night.
Willstrop, 28, had already been forced to go to five games in order to proceed – against Pontefract team-mate Saurav Ghosal and then Egypt’s Tarek Momen in Wednesday night’s quarter-finals.
He managed to reduce his time on court to four games last night, but still needed more than an hour to see off the challenge of Mohamed El Shorbagy, also from Egypt, eventually prevailing 11-6 8-11 11-5 11-5.
Matthew – a last-eight winner against fellow Englishman Daryl Selby the previous day, was made to work even harder on court earlier last night when he came up against England team-mate Peter Barker.
The Yorkshireman, going for his third win at the event, took 94 minutes to see off his Essex rival, winning through 8-11 11-7 11-5 9-11 11-3.
“There are very fine lines between winning and losing and Peter came out strongly in the first game, like he always does,” said Matthew. “He did the same in last year’s final and I was very pleased and relieved to get through.”