James Willstrop -18- (ENG) def Max Lee -14- (HKG)
Match recap from Squash Announcer Andy Taylor, Voice of the Qatar Classic.
Round-2 Final: 11-6, 4-11, 11-8, 11-9 (48m)
James Willstrop knows a thing or two about squash. In 2012, he reached the pinnacle of the sport, and held the World #1 ranking for nearly a year. 13-years-ago, at just 22-years-old, he captured the Qatar Classic title – losing only a single game in 5 consecutive victories. That’s insane.
A 2-time Doha Finalist, today the Marksman earned his 4th Tour-level victory over Hong Kong’s Max Lee, who James has owned since their first meeting 8-years-ago.
► May 2017 – Bellevue Classic (R1) – James Willstrop | Score: 9-11, 11-5, 11-5, 4-11, 11-9 (73m)
► Nov 2011 – World Championship (R1) – James Willstrop | Score: 11-8, 11-6, 11-7 (33m)
► Aug 2011 – World Team Championship – James Willstrop | Score: 11-4, 11-4, 11-9 (28m)
► Sep 2010 – British Grand Prix (R1) – James Willstrop | Score: 11-7, 11-5, 11-2 (26m)
But today’s Round-2 victory wasn’t cut and dry. After the match, James offered some player perspective on just how difficult the conditions can be in Doha. Tournament organizers lean on top-shelf air-conditioning to keep the venue as cold as possible. This creates favorable conditions for big-hitters who thrive on punishing rallies and fast play.
For Willstrop, who’s always excelled through technique, finesse and ball-placement, conditions like these can be just as challenging as the opponent sharing the court. Interesting insight from a decorated veteran of the game.
Each player’s announcer introduction for today’s Round-2 match…
James Willstrop -18- (ENG)
His remarkable career now spans nearly two decades, and at 35-years-old, he comes into this year’s Qatar Classic as England’s top-ranked player. He owns 8 Platinum-level titles, has competed in 20 Platinum-level Finals; and in 19 seasons on tour, has qualified for the year-end PSA World Tour Finals 10-times, where he reached the championship match in 2017.
A Commonwealth Games Gold and 2-time Silver Medalist, he’s a 2-time British National Champion, a 3-time World Team Championship Gold Medalist, and he reached the Final of sport’s most prestigious event at the 2010 World Championship. In 2012, he became World #1 for the first time, spent 11 months as the PSA’s top player, and over the past 19-years has been ranked inside the top-10 for astounding 12-years and 8-months. In total, he owns 19 PSA Tour titles, and started the new season in Nantes, France – where he reached his 43rd career Tour-level Final.
Competing in his 13th Qatar Classic Squash Championship – in 2005, he absolutely dominated on this court, dropping only a single game in 5-matches to capture the title. From England, please welcome 2005 Qatar Classic Champion – 2011 Finalist – and the #18 Player in the World – The Marksman – James Willstrop.
▲ R1 — Bye
Max Lee -14- (HKG)
At 30-years-old, this 2-time Hong Kong National Champion is enjoying a phenomenal season. He started in June by reaching his 11th consecutive championship match at the Hong Kong Nationals, then earned both individual and Team Silver at the Asian Games in Indonesia. In September, he couldn’t stop winning – earning four straight 3-game victories to capture his 14th career PSA title at the HKFC International in Happy Valley.
Now a 19-time Finalist on Tour, his best Platinum-level run came at the 2016 Hong Kong Open, where he reached the Semifinals. Competing in his 5th Qatar Classic Squash Championship, 3-years-ago he reached his first Platinum Quarterfinal right here in Doha, defeating World #6 Simon Rösner in the 2nd-Round. From Hong Kong, China – please welcome the #14 Player in the World, Max Lee.
▲ R1 — Bye