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Willstrop wins back-to-back World Series - November 29, 2011
The Englishman’s 11-7, 10-12, 11-4, 11-2 win in the final over Karim Darwish, the former world number one from Egypt, also made it likely that he will equal his career highest ranking of world number two next month.
He has worked his way to relentless successes with a rhythmic, less flamboyant attack than we he first emerged on the tour, applying pressure with fewer risks, and closing out matches with a sharp eye for the moment of telling pressure.
“It’s not like it’s come out of the blue,” said Willstrop who won the title in Hong Kong nine days ago. “It was certainly good to pick up a win last week, and yes, I just feel good.
“You go through with the ups and the downs of so often. It happens almost week on week at the moment. You could be up and you are flying. Or it could be a less good week.
“You just have to keep battling away and keep learning as much as you can. And just focusing on each little section, each tournament at a time.”
In fact there have not been any ups and downs at all for Willstrop for quite a while. He had not dropped a game in two tournaments, winning 28 in a row, until Darwish sneaked the second game in the final.
After a collision sent Darwish tumbling for a third time, Willstrop advanced rapidly to 6-1 in the third game, gaining a psychological hold on the match. The Egyptian played intelligently and determinedly but gradually found the Englishman’s weight of shot and consistent pressure too much.
When Willstrop fell heavily early in the fourth, it seemed to turn the contest completely. He got up and took the next three rallies with brilliantly taken much quicker winners, and extended the streak into an unstoppable sequence of ten successive points.
“I am tapping into my strengths a little bit better,” he said. “I have been helped physically by some fantastic people and have adapted my squash to suit my physical constitution which has been one of my weaker areas.”
Willstrop added, perhaps significantly:”I’m just trying to keep a relaxed attitude and hope this can be maintained.
If it is, and if world number one Nick Matthew fails to recover from an adductor injury before next month’s World Series in Delhi next month, he may even come close to the pinnacle before 2011 is out.
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