15 May 2010


Maestro Marcus Berrett (current captain of the Italian national squash team) says that the Matthew-Willstrop semifinal at the 2010 Canary Wharf was the greatest squash match he has ever seen. In my eyes it was for sure a dramatic, extremely tight match played at an outrageous rhythm coupled with outstanding precision, very accurate shot selection and above all, incredible retrieving and recovering; with constant changes of domination within one rally; the third set itself (20:18) could be used in schoolbooks to demonstrate how to remain focused and how to turn defence into offence through perfect movement patterns and timing. But: I was missing some creativity, some artistry (which maybe is asking too much at such rhythm and speed though). There was, for example, not a single cross-court drop shot from the back (one of Ramy's trademark shots); there was not a single low cross-court kill into the nick from the back (the way Shabana or Gaultier do it frequently); if I was counting right, there were altogether 2 service returns into the nick (Shabana, Ramy and Darwish play 2-3 per game in average, basically at any loose service); the volley drops (the ones where you look to take off the pace of the shot with an extreme soft touch) in general were maybe a fraction less gentle compared to David Palmer's. I am talking obviously about things that make the game spectacular, enjoyable even for the outsiders. Don't take me wrong, of course Matthew and Willstrop are both a world class act and it was definitely a match with a lots of initiatives to go short (no other way to be a top5 player today), but still, all in all, I missed the above mentioned variations a bit - even if the rally below in the video contradicts me (one of the very few cross drops from the front in the match). So this is why I do not agree totally to call it the greatest ever squash match; I would though agree to call it the greatest ever squash battle, because it was so incredibly fast and physical, and still so precise and accurate. YES LET!