Dunlop British Open 2008

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ECHO Arena Liverpool, Liverpool, England


David Palmer & Nicol David Foil English British Open Double


Hopes of an English double were foiled in the finals of the Dunlop British Open - Liverpool 2008 squash championships when Australia's David Palmer clinched the men's title for the fourth time and Malaysian Nicol David the women's crown for a third time at the ECHO Arena in Liverpool.


In what will go down as one of the most dramatic men's finals in the prestigious event's 80-year-old history, fifth seed Palmer squandered a 2/0 lead against England's James Willstrop, then saved two championship balls in the decider to beat the fourth seed 11-9, 11-9, 8-11, 6-11, 11-10 (3-1) in a 111-minute thriller.


Underdog Palmer, who had reached the final after his semi-final opponent Karim Darwish conceded the match he was leading after sustaining an Achilles injury, was in commanding form in the first two games and well into the third.


But Willstrop, 24, from Leeds, showed true Yorkshire grit by fighting back to level the match and moving 9-6 ahead.


Both players were clearly exhausted, but fought for every point - causing gasps of amazement from the capacity Arena crowd as irretrievable balls were retrieved.


The Englishman had match balls at 10-9 and 11-10 - but it was the 31-year-old from New South Wales who ultimately prevailed in the longest match of the tournament - and the longest British Open final since 1997.


"You've got to take your hat off to him," said British National champion Willstrop afterwards.  "I didn't have an answer in the first two games - but then I dug in.  He's a true champion - it's no disgrace, I've just got to accept it!"


Palmer admitted that he thought he was 'home and dry' at 6-4 up in the fourth.  "I then got a bit slow - and he took advantage.  James is a great guy and a great ambassador for the sport."


After a seesaw last half of the final game, Palmer reached match ball at 12-11, then noticed that his racket was cracked and walked off court to replace it.  Amazingly, the winning shot that followed was a miss hit off the frame, which ended in the sidewall nick!


"We both had a few lucky bounces - I don't know what happened in the final shot, it came off my frame for a cross-court nick.  'I'll take that', I thought."


Earlier, Nicol David, in her fourth successive women's final, faced final debutante Jenny Duncalf, the fifth seed from Harrogate who beat Australia's defending champion Rachael Grinham en-route to the climax.


David, eager to make up for the disappointment of her shock defeat in last year's final, romped to a first game win in just eight minutes - then forged a 7-2 lead in the second.


But Duncalf, buoyed by a near capacity home crowd at the brand new ECHO Arena, fought back to level the game then moved to within a point of taking the game.


However, the 24-year-old from Penang rallied to save the game-ball and went on to win the match 9-1, 10-8, 9-0 in 40 minutes to secure her third title in four years.


"She's a very special player," said Duncalf of her opponent afterwards.  "I just couldn't make any headway.  I certainly could have done with that second game - it would have given me a lot of momentum."


Nicol David, now celebrating her fifth successive WISPA World Tour title and her 17th in 20 events, admitted that losing the title last year hit her hard:  "I was really devastated - it was there for the taking.


"But you get stronger - you learn what you have to do.  You don't let anything get in your way.


"I knew she was going for it in the second game - she had nothing to lose.  I had to make sure I didn't let her in."


When asked about her feelings about the new 'Pro Scoring' system which will be in place by the time she seeks to reclaim her World Open title in Manchester in October, David said:  "It'll be interesting.  We'll see what happens."

2007 Event
2006 Event

click pictures to go to report

Australian David Palmer celebrates fourth British Open win in Liverpool

Nicol David reclaims British Open title in style

Jenny Duncalf beats Isabelle Stoehr to reach her first British Open final

England's Jenny Duncalf goes through to semi-final after beating title holder and world champion Rachael Grinham

Karim Darwish knocks out defending champion Gregory Gaultier in straight games


Nick Matthew Withdraws From British Open


click pictures to go to match report

Malaysia's Mohd Azlan Iskandar knocks out 2nd seed Ramy Ashour

2nd Round Exit For Egypts Ramy Ashour

Nicol David Looking For Revenge

Dunlop British Open
Men's Draw 
Revised 30th April after Nick Matthew withdraws injured
Round One
8 May
Round Two
9 May
10 May
11 May
12 May
[1] Amr Shabana (EGY)
11-5, 11-8, 11-5 (33m)
Davide Bianchetti (ITA)
 Amr Shabana
11-9, 7-11, 11-5, 11-10 (2-0) (52m)
 John White
 Amr Shabana
11-6, 3-11, 11-5, 11-8 (49m)
David Palmer
David Palmer
11-7, 3-11, 4-8 ret. (47m)
Karim Darwish

David Palmer
11-9, 11-9, 8-11, 6-11, 11-10 (3-1) (111m)
 James Willstrop

[14] John White (SCO)
11-4, 11-7, 11-5 (26m)
[Q] Aaron Frankcomb (AUS)
[5] David Palmer (AUS)
11-3, 11-5, 11-6 (32m)
[Q] Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS)
David Palmer
11-6, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6 (70m)
Adrian Grant
[13] Adrian Grant (ENG)
11-10 (2-0), 11-2, 4-11, 11-9 (49m)
[Q] Tom Richards (ENG)
[3] Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
11-8, 11-3, 11-8 (37m)
Mansoor Zaman (PAK)
Gregory Gaultier
11-4, 11-4, 11-5 (34m)
Olli Tuominen
Gregory Gaultier
11-9, 11-7, 11-3 (39m)
Karim Darwish
[15] Olli Tuominen (FIN)
9-11, 11-5, 11-9, 3-11, 11-7 (77m)
Joey Barrington (ENG)
[8] Karim Darwish (EGY)
11-10 (3-1), 11-8, 11-7 (40m)
Jonathan Kemp (ENG)
Karim Darwish
11-7, 11-5, 11-10 (2-0) (47m)
Laurens Jan Anjema
[16] Laurens Jan Anjema (NED)
11-6, 4-11, 11-6, 11-2 (36m)
[Q] Jesse Engelbrecht (RSA)
[10] Lee Beachill (ENG)
11-8, 11-4, 11-5 (49m)
Daryl Selby (WAL)
Lee Beachill
11-9, 4-11, 11-10 (2-0), 9-11, 11-8 (83m)
 Peter Barker
 Peter Barker
11-9, 4-11, 11-9, 11-8 (61m)
 James Willstrop
 James Willstrop
11-7, 11-3, 11-7 (50m)
Thierry Lincou
[6] Peter Barker (ENG)
11-4, 11-9, 11-8 (40m)
Tom Pashley (ENG)
[11] Ong Beng Hee (MAS)
6-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-7 (85m)
[Q] Farhan Mehboob (PAK)
Ong Beng Hee
11-9, 11-9, 11-7 (47m)
 James Willstrop
[4] James Willstrop (ENG)
11-5, 7-11, 11-8, 11-2 (53m)
Aamir Atlas Khan (PAK)
[9] Alex Gough (ENG)
6-11, 11-1, 11-1, 0-11, 11-9 (60m)
[Q] Scott Arnold (AUS)
 Alex Gough
11-6, 11-3, 11-5 (37m)
 Thierry Lincou
 Thierry Lincou
11-8, 11-7, 11-8 (50m)
Mohd Azlan Iskandar
[7] Thierry Lincou (FRA)
11-10 (2-0), 11-5, 11-3 (33m)
[Q] Jonathan Harford (ENG)
[12] Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS)
11-4, 11-5, 11-5 (29m)
[Q] Wade Johnstone (AUS)
Mohd Azlan Iskandar
11-1, 5-11, 11-8, 11-8 (41m)
Ramy Ashour
[2] Ramy Ashour (EGY)
11-8, 7-11, 11-10 (2-0), 11-7 (65m)
Alister Walker (ENG)


Men's qualifying finals:
Aaron Frankcomb (AUS) bt Ben Ford (ENG) 11-4, 11-6, 7-11, 11-7 (57m)
Jonathan Harford (ENG) bt Robbie Temple (ENG) 11-7, 7-11, 11-5, 11-5 (61m)
Wade Johnstone (AUS) bt Mark Fuller (ENG) 11-6, 11-9, 11-10 (3-1) (38m)
Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) bt Shaun le Roux (ENG) 11-4, 11-9, 11-9 (46m)
Jesse Engelbrecht (RSA) bt Stephen Coppinger (RSA) 4-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-10 (5-3), 11-3 (68m)
Scott Arnold (AUS) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 11-9, 11-7, 11-5 (51m)
Tom Richards (ENG) bt Scott Handley (ENG) 11-3, 11-4, 11-10 (3-1) (30m)
Farhan Mehboob (PAK) bt Campbell Grayson (NZL) 11-6, 7-11, 11-6, 11-4 (45m)

Men's 1st qualifying round:

Aaron Frankcomb (AUS) bt Eddie Charlton (ENG)                       11-10 (2-0), 11-9, 11-9 (53m)

Ben Ford (ENG) bt Siddharth Suchde (IND)                               11-7, 5-11, 11-6, 11-6 (53m)

Jonathan Harford (ENG) bt Stephen Siveter (ENG)                    11-8, 11-9, 10-11 (0-2), 11-7 (56m)

Robbie Temple (ENG) bt John Rooney (IRL)                                 11-7 ret. (7m)

Mark Fuller (ENG) bt Julien Balbo (FRA)                                     11-8, 11-5, 11-9 (41m)

Wade Johnstone (AUS) bt Lewis Walters (ENG)                         6-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-3

Shaun le Roux (ENG) bt Ritwik Bhattacharya (IND)                    11-7, 4-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-9 (65m)

Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) bt Adam Murrills (ENG)              8-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-3 (46m)

Stephen Coppinger (RSA) bt Rob Sutherland (WAL)                    11-9, 11-3, 7-11, 11-7 (57m)

Jesse Engelbrecht (RSA) bt Jens Schoor (GER)                          11-7, 7-11, 11-10 (2-0), 11-5 (44m)

Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt Jethro Binns (WAL)                     10-11 (0-2), 11-4, 11-7, 8-11, 11-3 (71m)

Scott Arnold (AUS) bt James Snell (ENG)                                  11-8, 11-10 (3-1), 11-9 (46m)

Tom Richards (ENG) bt Romain Tenant (FRA)                              11-5, 11-4, 11-6 (27m)

Scott Handley (ENG) bt Andrew Widdison (ENG)                        11-5, 11-7, 11-4 (27m)

Campbell Grayson (NZL) bt Khawaja Adil Maqbool (PAK)             11-1, 11-6 ret. (14m)

Farhan Mehboob (PAK) bt Chris Fuller (ENG)                              11-2, 11-10 (3-1), 11-6 (37m)

Dunlop British Open 2007
's Draw 

Round One
9 May
10 May
11 May
12 May
[1] Nicol David (MAS)
9-0, 9-4, 9-4 (37m)
[Q] Madeline Perry (IRL)
Nicol David
7-9, 9-7, 9-5, 9-2 (63m)
Shelley Kitchen
Nicol David
9-5, 9-1, 9-0 (27m)
Natalie Grainger

Nicol David
9-1, 10-8, 9-0 (40m)
Jenny Duncalf

[6] Shelley Kitchen (NZL)
8-10, 9-3, 9-4, 9-2 (57m)
Vanessa Atkinson (NED)
[4] Natalie Grainger (USA)
9-5, 9-3, 9-7 (36m)
[Q] Kasey Brown (AUS)
Natalie Grainger
9-3, 10-9, 9-6 (46m)
Laura Lengthorn-Massaro
[7] Vicky Botwright (ENG)
9-6, 2-9, 4-9, 9-6, 9-6 (80m)
Laura Lengthorn-Massaro (ENG)
[5] Jenny Duncalf (ENG)
4-9, 9-2, 10-8, 9-1 (59m)
Alison Waters (ENG)
Jenny Duncalf
9-5, 1-9, 9-6, 9-1 (54m)
Rachael Grinham
Jenny Duncalf
4-9, 9-3, 9-6, 9-6 (73m)
Isabelle Stoehr
[3] Rachael Grinham (AUS)
9-6, 9-1, 9-2 (38m)
[Q] Engy Kheirallah (EGY)
[8] Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY)
9-2, 2-9, 9-6, 9-6 (66m)
[Q] Isabelle Stoehr (FRA)
Isabelle Stoehr
6-9, 9-4, 1-0 ret. (28m)
Natalie Grinham
[2] Natalie Grinham (NED)
9-4, 9-0, 6-9, 9-4 (72m)
Rebecca Chiu (HKG)


Women's qualifying finals:

Madeline Perry (IRL) bt Emma Beddoes (ENG)                                  9-0, 6-9, 3-9, 9-1, 9-2 (69m)

Engy Kheirallah (EGY) bt Dominique Lloyd-Walter (ENG)                  5-9, 9-4, 9-2, 9-4 (67m)

Isabelle Stoehr (FRA) bt Jaclyn Hawkes (NZL)                                10-8, 9-0, 5-9, 9-0 (54m)

Kasey Brown (AUS) bt Annelize Naude (NED)                                   9-3, 9-2, 9-0 (35m)

Women's 2nd qualifying round:
Madeline Perry (IRL) bt Joshna Chinappa (IND) 9-4, 10-8, 9-1 (25m)
Emma Beddoes (ENG) bt Lauren Briggs (ENG) 9-1, 9-6, 3-9, 10-8 (64m)
Engy Kheirallah (EGY) bt Delia Arnold (MAS) 9-5, 3-9, 9-3, 10-8 (85m)
Dominique Lloyd-Walter (ENG) bt Sarah Kippax (ENG) 9-0, 9-1, 9-2 (43m)
Isabelle Stoehr (FRA) bt Lauren Siddall (ENG) 10-9, 9-2, 9-0 (46m)
Jaclyn Hawkes (NZL) bt Louise Crome (NZL) 9-5, 9-3, 4-9, 9-1 (56m)
Annelize Naude (NED) bt Suzie Pierrepont (ENG) 9-6, 10-8, 4-9, 9-2 (67m)
Kasey Brown (AUS) bt Dipika Pallikal (IND) 9-2, 9-0, 9-1 (24m)

Women's 1st qualifying round:

Madeline Perry (IRL) bt Kylie Lindsay (NZL)                                9-4, 9-1, 9-3 (23m)

Joshna Chinappa (IND) bt Kirsty McPhee (ENG)                          10-9, 0-9, 9-2, 9-7 (42m)

Lauren Briggs (ENG) bt Vicky Hynes (ENG)                                  10-8, 9-4, 9-4 (38m)

Emma Beddoes (ENG) bt Emma Chorley (ENG)                             9-7, 9-3, 9-1 (32m)

Engy Kheirallah (EGY) bt Birgit Coufal (AUT)                              9-6, 9-4, 9-4 (29m)

Delia Arnold (MAS) bt Fiona Moverley (ENG)                              9-3, 9-0, 9-5 (37m)

Dominique Lloyd-Walter (ENG) bt Carrie Hastings (ENG)             9-7, 9-0, 9-0 (24m)

Sarah Kippax (ENG) bt Joelle King (NZL)                                    0-9, 9-6, 9-2, 9-1 (46m)

Lauren Siddall (ENG) bt Lauren Selby (ENG)                               9-4, 9-2, 9-3 (25m)

Isabelle Stoehr (FRA) bt Rebecca Botwright (ENG)                    9-1, 9-7, 10-8 (34m)

Louise Crome (NZL) bt Leonie Holt (ENG)                                    9-6, 9-1, 5-9, 9-2 (40m)

Jaclyn Hawkes (NZL) bt Olivia Blatchford (USA)                        9-1, 9-1, 9-2 (21m)

Suzie Pierrepont (ENG) bt Luz Etchechoury (ARG)                      9-1, 9-3, 9-3 (23m)

Annelize Naude (NED) bt Jeannine Cowie (ENG)                          9-3, 9-1, 9-1 (20m)

Dipika Pallikal (IND) bt Kerri Shields (IRL)                                 9-4, 9-1, 9-3 (23m)

Kasey Brown (AUS) bt Belen Etchechoury (ARG)                         9-0, 9-2, 9-0 (18m)




Historic British Open Double For Willstrop & Duncalf


Yorkshireman James Willstrop ensured that there will be English interest in both finals of the Dunlop British Open - Liverpool 2008 squash championships for only the second time in 44 years when he overwhelmed Frenchman Thierry Lincou in straight games in Sunday's men's semi-finals at the ECHO Arena in Liverpool.


The 24-year-old world No3 from Leeds avenged his recent defeat by the former world number one in Kuwait, winning 11-7, 11-3, 11-7 in 50 minutes to reach the final for the second time. 


Earlier Jenny Duncalf - also from Yorkshire - beat French qualifier Isabelle Stoehr to claim a maiden place in the women's final. 


Willstrop, now in his sixth PSA Tour final in seven events, was in stunning form against Lincou.  The British national champion had answers for everything that the experienced Frenchman could throw at him.


After winning the first two games, Willstrop returned to the court knowing that only two weeks earlier he had been in a similar position in the Kuwait Open - yet lost in a five-game thriller!


"Kuwait was a good lesson for me - tonight I kept it simple and had to be as positive and tough as I could," said the Englishman.


"For a squash player to be in the British Open final is a bit special."


When asked to comment on the comparison with his 2005 British Open final appearance, the now 24-year-old said:  "My little muscles have become a bit stronger since then.  Hopefully I've got a bigger engine now - and I hope I'll be able to use it!"


A forlorn Lincou admitted that his opponent never showed any signs of fatigue nor gave him any easy points.  "He was just too good - he played amazing squash," said the 32-year-old from Marseille.  "I think he's in good shape to win it if he wants it."


Willstrop will face Australia's three times champion David Palmer in Monday's final.  The fifth seed, appearing in his seventh semi-final in nine years, led throughout the opening game against Karim Darwish, the No7 seed from Egypt who knocked out France's defending champion Gregory Gaultier in the previous round.


But it was all-change in the second as the 26-year-old from Cairo claimed the upper hand and took the game for the loss of just three points.


And Darwish continued to press home his advantage in the third until referee Wendy Danzey stopped the game, instructing the Egyptian to leave the court to have a 'blood injury to the knee' attended to.


Amazingly, it was only seconds after walking back on court that the former world junior champion turned back - signalling that he could no longer continue.  It later transpired that he had also strained his Achilles tendon earlier in the match.


"It feels great to be in the final - but a little strange," said the 31-year-old Australian who was also taken aback by the abrupt curtailment of the match.


"I thought he'd caught his knee - I didn't realise it was anything to do with his ankle.  But I was in trouble at that point in the match - I'd played pretty well in the first game but he totally turned it round in the next."


Jenny Duncalf, the world number eight who had never before lost to Stoehr, admitted that she was "a little bit edgy" in the early part of the match against her lower-ranked opponent - and dropped the first game.


The 25-year-old fifth seed from Harrogate fought back and finally converted her fourth match ball to record a 4-9, 9-3, 9-6, 9-6 triumph after 73 minutes.


"I'm ecstatic to be in the final - this has to be the best result of my life," added Duncalf.


Later Malaysia's top seed Nicol David put in a powerful performance to beat Natalie Grainger, the Manchester-born fourth seed from the USA.


Grainger led 5-2 in the first game - but only scored one further point in the match as David took control and stormed to a 9-5, 9-1, 9-0 victory in just 27 minutes.


"I got my momentum midway through the first game and started playing a much more attacking game," said the two times champion who suffered a shock defeat in the 2007 event.

Willstrop & Duncalf Provide English Interest In British Open Semis

There will be English interest in both the men's and women's semi-finals of the Dunlop British Open - Liverpool 2008 squash championships after Yorkshireman James Willstrop survived a 61-minute battle against England team-mate Peter Barker in the men's quarter-finals at the ECHO Arena Liverpool.

Earlier England's chances of a finalist in the women's event were massively boosted when Jenny Duncalf, also from Yorkshire, upset defending champion Rachael Grinham 9-5, 1-9, 9-6, 9-1.

The 25-year-old fifth seed from Harrogate, who had never before beaten the three times champion from Australia, will now face Isabelle Stoehr in the semi-finals after the French qualifier earlier ousted Rachael's sister Natalie Grinham, the second seed.

In a hard-fought and relentless encounter, 24-year-old Willstrop recovered from a swift second game loss to defeat left-handed Londoner Barker 11-9, 4-11, 11-9, 11-8.

"It was an absolute scrap," said the England number one, who now reached the last four for the second time in four years.  "I didn't feel either of us controlled the game well - but it was a good game and an honest one against a good guy whose game has really come on.

"You get more motivated as the rounds go on," added the world number three from Leeds.

Barker, who came up against Willstrop countless times as a junior and senior, said:  "I'm very, very disappointed.  But it was no disgrace.  I'd be happy for James to go through to the final - and I know he'd have felt the same about me."

The men's event produced two successive shocks in the afternoon session when the defeat of defending champion Gregory Gaultier was followed by the surprise exit of top seed and world number one Amr Shabana.

Third seed Gaultier, the world number two who last year became the first ever French winner of the men's trophy, crashed out 11-9, 11-7, 11-3 to Egypt's Karim Darwish, the No8 seed.

"That was the best win of my career," said the 26-year-old from Cairo who was also a semi-finalist two years ago.  "I knew I could do it - but I had to stay focussed as Greg is one of the best players around.

"I kept thinking about the last time we played - in Kuwait, where I was ahead in all of the games but he won 3/0," explained Darwish, ranked eight in the world. 

"I wasn't focussed then, but I was today - I had to believe in myself."

It was a bad day at the office for Shabana, one of the game's most gifted and mercurial talents.  After dropping the first game, the favourite came back to level the match.

But Palmer, making his 12th appearance in the event since 1997 and champion three times, maintained the pressure to come through an 11-6, 3-11, 11-5, 11-8 winner after 49 minutes.

"I'm just happy to play at this level still - I've nothing to prove anymore," said the 31-year-old from New South Wales who recently settled in Boston, USA.

"I don't think either of us played particularly well - but maybe I wanted it a bit more," added Palmer, now in his seventh semi in nine years.

The lower half of the women's draw was thrown into disarray when Jenny Duncalf defeated Rachael Grinham, the reigning world champion and former world number one.

The 25-year-old fifth seed from Harrogate had never before beaten the three times champion from Australia:  "I don't know what happened," said a seemingly startled Duncalf later.  "I had to keep reminding myself to stay focused - you can't afford to relax for a moment with Rachael, she's so good with the racquet."

In the first British Open semi-final of her career, Duncalf will face Isabelle Stoehr after the French qualifier earlier ousted Rachael's sister Natalie Grinham, the second seed.

Grinham junior, a record three times Commonwealth Games gold medallist, won the opening game - but, at 4-0 in the second, took a lunge which caused pain in her left thigh.

"I called for the physio at 6-4.  In the break, he said I could go back on but it might make sit worse," explained the 30-year-old from Queensland who now flies the Dutch flag. 

"Sometimes pain just goes away, but when I tried a similar lunge at the beginning of the third game, the pain was so sharp I just had to stop.  Nothing like that has ever happened to me before."

Stoehr had mixed feelings about claiming her maiden appearance in the semi-finals:  "50% I'm happy and 50% I'm not," said the 28-year-old from Montpellier, who survived three qualifying matches before the first round.

"People say 'Isabelle is not fit'!  This is a good reply to those who say that. 

"Everything is now a bonus to me."

Later in the day, Malaysia's world number Nicol David recovered from a game and 5-2 down to beat difficult opponent Shelley Kitchen 7-9, 9-7, 9-5, 9-2.  The win avenged a shock second round loss to the New Zealander in last year's World Open in Madrid.

Shock British Open Exit For Ashour


Malaysia's Mohd Azlan Iskandar pulled off a sensational upset in the Dunlop British Open - Liverpool 2008 when he beat second-seeded Egyptian Ramy Ashour in four games to take an unexpected place in the quarter-finals of the PSA Super Series Silver event at the ECHO Arena in Liverpool.


It was clear from the outset that the 20-year-old world number four from Cairo - wearing full length white surgical stockings - was suffering in some way when the Malaysian outsider romped to a first game win in just five minutes.


Despite severely restricted movement, the sport's rising star was able to use his sensational racquet skills to win the second game - but it always looked unlikely that Ashour could win the match.


"It was hard dealing with that situation - but I must admit that I found it a bit intimidating when he came onto court wearing tights!" said the delighted 11th seed Iskandar after his 11-1, 5-11, 11-8, 11-8 victory.  "You think he's injured, then he gets the ball back with interest! 


"But when you win the first game 11-1, what do you do?  I got a bit excited, I admit, but I had to remind myself to go back to fundamentals:  the player who makes the most errors loses the match!


"Six months ago, I would have bottled it - so I'm glad I was able to concentrate on the job in hand."


It was a deeply downhearted Ashour that was finally able to explain what had happened.  "My injuries include both my ham strings, as well as my ankle and my lower back.


"I feel that I'm abusing myself - abusing my body.  I think I should rethink what I do - if I keep on like this, I won't keep going for another two years."


World No3 James Willstrop will meet career-long rival and England team-mate Peter Barker in Saturday's quarter-finals to ensure home interest in the semi-finals of the longest-established and most prestigious event in world squash.


In the second round match at the Liverpool Cricket Club, England number one Willstrop despatched Malaysian Ong Beng Hee, the tenth seed, 11-9, 11-9, 11-7 in 47 minutes to reach the last eight for the fifth time in the past six years.


The adjacent second round match which produced the fourth seed's next opponent featured the two team-mates who fought alongside him in England's victory over France in last week's European Team Championships final.  It was close and seesaw encounter between the two closest seeds in the last sixteen, in which left-handed Londoner Peter Barker, the eighth seed, ultimately prevailed 11-9, 4-11, 11-10 (2-0), 9-11, 11-8 over ninth-seeded Yorkshireman Lee Beachill in 83 minutes.


"Lee's probably moving better than he has done for a long time - and as his ball-striking is the best in the world, I feel delighted to have won," said Barker after the longest match of the day.


"But I have mixed emotions about beating him, as we have become close friends over the past year and he has become a massive influence to me.  He was a major factor in helping me win the deciding match in last year's World Team Championship final.


"But at the end of the day, it's just a game of squash," concluded the 24-year-old Londoner.


Top seed Amr Shabana survived a tough - but entertaining - match against US-based Scot John White, beating the game's hardest-hitter 11-9, 7-11, 11-5, 11-10 (2-0) in 52 minutes.  In fact, 13th seed White came off court midway through the fourth game thinking he'd won it to force a decider.  However, the referee ruled a let and asked the players to return to the court.


The favourite went on to save two game balls before converting his first match ball to secure a place in the quarter-finals for the second successive year.


"John and I always have fun matches - in fact, it was tough to concentrate, I was enjoying it so much.  I had to keep reminding myself that the point of the match was to win - not just have fun," explained the 28-year-old from Cairo who has topped the men's world rankings for the past two years. 


"I had to raise my game in the fourth to win the match - and I'll now have to get myself prepared for my quarter-final against David Palmer, "added Shabana, who has won major PSA Tour titles all over the globe, including three World Open crowns, but never the British Open.


"It's the one I haven't won.  When I was a junior, I used to dream about winning the British Open.  It would be great to win it now - then I would have the complete set!"


White, a veteran of the Tour for more than 17 years, revealed later that this would be his last British Open.  A quarter-finalist in his debut in 1996, the Australian-born 34-year-old has taken up the role as Director of Squash at Franklin & Marshall College in the USA.


"I've had great memories of the British Open, including my best win over Canadian Jonathon Power in the 2002 semi-finals which took me to the final for the first time," said the 13th seed, a former world number one.


"But I couldn't have planned a better way to go out than with a match against Amr Shabana.  Since going through qualifiers together some 15 years ago, we've become great friends and always have really enjoyable matches.


"He's really picked up his game over the past few years and become an unbelievable player.  I hope he goes on to win the title here - I'd be delighted for him," concluded White.


The event's first upset took place in the women's event when Isabelle Stoehr, a qualifier from France, beat eighth-seeded Egyptian Omneya Abdel Kawy 9-2, 2-9, 9-6, 9-6 in 66 minutes.


Abdel Kawy - fresh from victory in last month's Hurghada International in her home country, where she beat world champion Rachael Grinham in the final - was playing her opening match of the tournament, whereas Stoehr had already battled through three qualifying rounds.


"It was her first match, so I knew I had capitalise on the fact that I'd played three times on the courts - and get a strong start," said the 28-year-old from Montpellier.  "I tried to play it really tight - she's got such good racquet skills.  But I also knew she could give me a few easy points.


"Even when I lost the second game, I still felt strong - and just had to push, push, push.


"I'm pleased with my game - I'm feeling confident and I'm happy in my life," added Stoehr, who now faces second seed Natalie Grinham in the quarter-finals on the all-glass court at the ECHO Arena.


"A few years ago I would have approached tomorrow's match expecting to lose - but now my confidence is high.  It's all about being relaxed and happy."


The longest women's match was an all-Lancashire bout between Manchester Vicky Botwright, the No7 seed, and unseeded Laura Lengthorn-Massaro, from Preston.  It was the pair's sixth meeting this year - and eventually the fifth upset by Lengthorn-Massaro over her higher-ranked county compatriot.


"I feel I've been playing really well recently - and felt I deserved to get into the quarter-finals," said 24-year-old Laura, ranked 12 in the world, after her 9-6, 2-9, 4-9, 9-6, 9-6 victory.


British Open action now moves to the brand new ECHO Arena Liverpool where quarter-finals matches on the all-glass showcourt kick off at midday on Saturday.


Ramy Tested In British Open Debut In Liverpool


Second seed Ramy Ashour, the 20-year-old 'wonder kid' from Egypt who has already netted three PSA Tour titles this year, was severely tested by unseeded Englishman Alister Walker in the men's first round of the Dunlop British Open - Liverpool 2008 at Liverpool Cricket Club.


The 'Wimbledon' of squash - being held in Liverpool for the first time - will be staged at the new ECHO Arena Liverpool from 10-12 May, following qualifying and early rounds at the Cricket Club.


Walker, a Botswana-born 25-year-old raised in Gloucestershire and now based in Leeds, led in all four games, winning the second.  But Ashour - the world number two who, amazingly, was making his debut in the event - dug deep to win the first, then fought back from 10-5 down to take the third. 


It took the squash star 65 minutes to finally overcome Walker 11-8, 7-11, 11-10 (2-0), 11-7 and claim a place in the second round.


Gregory Gaultier, the third seed who last year became the first ever Frenchman to win the title, successfully began his defence with an 11-8, 11-3, 11-8 win over Pakistan's Mansoor Zaman in 37 minutes.


Surprisingly described in a British national newspaper as "the biggest name in squash", unseeded Zaman was the first of three Pakistanis to exit at the first round stage.


It was a decisive win by Gaultier - only five days after cramp caused him to writhe in agony on a court in Amsterdam at the end of the match which led to England's triumph in the European Team Championships.


The 25-year-old world number two from Aix-en-Provence proclaimed before the event that he was going to ignore the fact that he was title-holder - and prepare as if he were going for the title for the first time.


"I didn't come here with any pressure," said Gaultier.  "Of course, I've got targets and it would be nice to win it again, but it's wide open."


About his first round win over Zaman, the Frenchman explained:  "It was 3/0, so I'm not complaining.  It's good to win my first match, but now I want to relax and try to be ready for tomorrow."


David Palmer is the only other former champion in the men's field.  The fifth-seeded Australian - three times winner of the title between 2001 and 2004 - despatched Malaysian qualifier Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan 11-3, 11-5, 11-6 in 32 minutes.


"I was happy to get through that - it was a good run and not too hard," said the 31-year-old from New South Wales who is now based in Boston, USA.


"But I'm expecting a tough game tomorrow - so I need to get ready for that," added the former world champion and world number one who now plays Englishman Adrian Grant.


The 12th seed is one of two left-handers from London who made it through to the last sixteen.  Grant, the 27-year-old world No15 who is now based in Leeds, beat Surrey qualifier Tom Richards 11-10 (2-0), 11-2, 4-11, 11-9 - while Peter Barker, the eighth seed who kicked off England's victory trail last week by beating higher-ranked Frenchman Thierry Lincou for the first time, defeated Sussex wild card opponent Tom Pashley 11-4, 11-9, 11-8.


England's bid for success in the event is being led by James Willstrop, the fourth seed.  But the world No3 expressed surprise at the lack of 'home' support from the crowd after his 11-5, 7-11, 11-8, 11-2 victory over Pakistan's 17-year-old Aamir Atlas Khan.


"I always thought that if you played in your home country, you'd get the bulk of the support - but the crowd seemed to be full of Pakistanis, all cheering every good shot by my opponent.  I felt there was very little coming my way," said the perplexed 24-year-old England number one. 


"But it was hard work - which I knew it would be, as Aamir is one of the most talented prospects to come out of Pakistan for a good few years.  He's still young - and he's going to be very tough to beat in the future."


Sadly the Barrington name will not live on in the 2008 staging of the event after England rising star Joey Barrington crashed out after a five-game marathon.  The son of squash legend Jonah Barrington - who established a six British Open title record in the early 1970s - Joey failed to repeat his recent upset over Olli Tuominen, losing 9-11, 11-5, 11-9, 3-11, 11-7 to the Finn in 77 minutes.


A major upset seemed on the cards when Pakistan qualifier Farhan Mehboob romped to a 2/0 lead over Ong Beng Hee, the tenth seed.


But the Malaysian, who has achieved quarter-final berths in the event on five occasions, fought back to claim a 6-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-7 win after 85 minutes.


"When you play someone who has no pressure, who's fresh, and hungry, it's never going to be easy," the 28-year-old from Kuala Lumpur said afterwards.  "In the first two games he was just too good, attacking with no fear and hitting some great shots.


"I just needed to wake up mentally, I went 2/0 down so quickly, and even in the third it was eight-all. I always knew he was very talented and fast - definitely one to watch for the future."


In the qualifying finals of the women's event, Madeline Perry led the charge to claim places in the main draw.  Since reaching the quarter-finals of the event last year, the 31-year-old from Ireland suffered a life-threatening head injury in a mugging in Italy late last year and has been fighting back to full fitness since recovering from her ordeal.


The former world No6 from Belfast, who has slipped to 15th place, came back from 2/1 down to beat English qualifier Emma Beddoes 9-0, 6-9, 3-9, 9-1, 9-2 to make it through to the main draw for the seventh time in her career. 


However, Perry's reward is a first round clash with Nicol David, the top seed from Malaysia who is in her third year as world number one.


Egypt's Engy Kheirallah was also seeking to return to the event in which she has starred before - after achieving a semi-final berth two years ago.  The 26-year-old from Alexandria recovered from a game down to beat England's Dominique Lloyd-Walter 5-9, 9-4, 9-2, 9-4 in 67 minutes - and will now face Australia's defending champion Rachael Grinham - who is also based in Egypt - in the first round.

Third Time Lucky For Englishmen Harford & Richards In Liverpool

It was third time lucky for Jonathan Harford and Tom Richards in the men's qualifying finals of the Dunlop British Open - Liverpool 2008 at Liverpool Cricket Club when the pair made it through to the main draw of the longest-established and most prestigious event in world squash for the first time.

The 'Wimbledon' of squash - being held in Liverpool for the first time - will be staged at the new ECHO Arena Liverpool from 10-12 May, following qualifying and early rounds at the Cricket Club.

Originally from Stroud and now based in Leeds, Jonathan Harford was facing fellow Gloucestershire-born Robbie Temple, ranked 23 places lower in the world. 

Eager to make up for the disappointment of failing to qualify for the past two years, Harford battled for 61 minutes against his 21-year-old opponent before coming through an 11-7, 7-11, 11-5, 11-5 winner.

"We actually grew up together - I met him the first time when he was three," explained Harford.  "He is such a talented player.  Did you see the shots he got - from behind him, from everywhere?  He really is one of the players I want to see do well.

"Last year, I lost 3/2 in the finals of the qualifiers, so I’m so happy to qualify this year for my first British Open, and so looking forward to tomorrow," added Harford, who meets Frenchman Thierry Lincou, the sixth seed.

Tom Richards, a former England Junior International from Surrey, is fighting back to full fitness after undergoing knee surgery a year ago.  The 21-year-old world No64 despatched compatriot Scott Handley - a 33-year-old from Oxfordshire making his eighth attempt to qualify - 11-3, 11-4, 11-10 (3-1) in 30 minutes.

"He was just awesome," said Handley, a former world No41, after the quickest men's match of the day.  "He's the best player I've played in a long time. 

"I should have had him in the third when I had a game ball - but he stepped up the pace and won the important shots."

Richards acknowledged that he's now back to the level he was before his surgery:  "In fact, I'm probably stronger now - all the hard work I have done has finally kicked in," said the 21-year-old from Walton-on-Thames, who failed to qualify in both 2005 and 2006

"It's fantastic to be in the British Open for the first time.  I remember watching the event, years ago in Cardiff - it's difficult to believe that I'm now in it!

"The knee is much better than I expected.  I'm now just ten positions away from my best world ranking - and this result today will be a great help," said Richards, who faces fellow countryman Adrian Grant, the 12th seed.

British Open history was achieved today when Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan beat England's Shaun le Roux, from Yorkshire, 11-4, 11-9, 11-9 to ensure that three Malaysians will compete in the first round of the men's event for the first time.

"I am so happy to make it into this world-famous event for the first time," said the 22-year-old from Kuala Lumpur, who joins 10th seed Ong Beng Hee and 11th seed Mohd Azlan Iskandar in the main draw.

Nottingham-based Emma Beddoes pulled off the most notable upset in the women's qualifying event when she downed Essex's world No25 Lauren Briggs 9-1, 9-6, 3-9, 10-8 in 64 minutes to earn a place in the qualifying finals. 

The Warwickshire 22-year-old will now face Madeline Perry for a place in the main draw after the Irish number one dismissed India's Joshna Chinappa 9-4, 10-8, 9-1 in just 25 minutes.

Surprisingly, the longest match of the day was played out by two women - when Engy Kheirallah battled to a 9-5, 3-9, 9-3, 10-8 win over Malaysian Delia Arnold in an 85-minutes marathon.

Homecoming Fails To Lift Siveter In Dunlop British Open Qualifiers


Years after representing the club in the local leagues, Merseysider Stephen Siveter returned to the Liverpool Cricket Club to compete in today's first qualifying round of the Dunlop British Open - Liverpool 2008 squash championships - but was unable to progress through to his maiden appearance in the longest-established and most prestigious event in world squash, which is being held in Liverpool for the first time.


Born in St Helens, and a Merseyside county player for many years, Siveter faced fellow Englishman Jonathan Harford.  It was a David v Goliath encounter, with 289 world ranking positions separating the two - 32-year-old Siveter having only recently joined the Professional Squash Association (PSA) and currently ranked 349.


The local hero, who now lives in Stafford, pushed Harford all the way - and took the third game on a tie-break.  But the 24-year-old from Leeds ultimately prevailed after 56 minutes to record an 11-8, 11-9, 10-11 (0-2), 11-7 victory.


"I know Stephen, I’ve played in the leagues up here a few times, he is a very good non professional player," Harford said.  "I’m lucky to win that one 3/1 - he was 7-1 up in the first, and the second was pretty tight too. He was the local player, with nothing to lose - me, a top eight qualifying seed, a bit of pressure. He played very well, it was tough the whole way."


English outsider Mark Fuller pulled off a notable upset, beating French international Julien Balbo in straight games.  Unranked either in England or the world, the 23-year-old from Northamptonshire was making his first ever appearance in the event. 


But, undaunted, Fuller despatched the Frenchman - who helped his country through to last week's European Team Championships' finals - 11-8, 11-5, 11-9 in 41 minutes.


"That wasn’t expected to happen," conceded the English debutant.  "I think we play both a similar type of game, up and down the wall, steady, not too much with the ball, no flashy shots… And today, that’s what I stuck to, trying not to do too many mistakes.


"I just need to say a big thank you to my training partners, and my little brother," added Fuller.


Sadly, his 'little brother' failed to make it a Fuller double later in the day.  Chris Fuller, the reigning British National U17 champion, went down 11-2, 11-10 (3-1), 11-6 to Pakistan's Farhan Mehboob.


Women's qualifying also got underway at the Liverpool Cricket Club, with Cheshire's Sarah Kippax making a strong start against New Zealand's Joelle King


Kippax, a multi-talented sportswoman who has represented her county in netball, hockey, football, cross-country and squash, eventually chose to focus on squash and is now ranked 30 in the world.


The 24-year-old, now based in Halifax, recovered from a game down to defeat her Kiwi opponent 0-9, 9-6, 9-2, 9-1 - and will now face compatriot Dominique Lloyd-Walter for a place in the qualifying finals.


The Dunlop British Open - Liverpool 2008 will be staged at the new ECHO Arena Liverpool from 10-12 May, following qualifying and early rounds at the Liverpool Cricket Club.


Nick Matthew Withdraws From British Open


England's Nick Matthew has been forced to withdraw from next month's Dunlop British Open – Liverpool 2008, to be staged in Liverpool from 8-12 May.


The 27-year-old from Sheffield made an indelible mark on squash history in 2006 when he became the event's first home-grown champion for 67 years.


Matthew, who became England's highest-ranked player at the end of last year after winning the US Open in October, sustained a shoulder ligament tear whilst leading England to their successful defence of the Men's World Team Championship in Chennai - and was hopeful of making his return to the World Tour at the British Open following corrective surgery in January.


"I'm absolutely gutted to be missing the British Open," said the sixth seed.  "The Dunlop British Open – Liverpool 2008 was always my target and not being able to play in the championships is disappointing. However, I have to look at the bigger picture and it is essential that I do not push too hard too soon. My surgeon has told me that the operation was successful and overall my rehabilitation has gone very well. I am confident that with the continued support of the English Institute of Sport (EIS) in Sheffield that I am very close to being back to full fitness," added the world No6.


Matthew's England team-mate Peter Barker is the prime benefactor in the revised draw - rising to No8 seed and now lining up against wildcard Tom Pashley in the first round.


Welshman Alex Gough is elevated to the position of 16th seed - while Englishman Daryl Selby now avoids the qualifiers to earn a place in the main draw.


Nicol David Looking For Revenge In Dunlop British Open – Liverpool 2008

World number one Nicol David will be after revenge when she takes on a qualifier in the opening round of the Dunlop British Open - Liverpool 2008 squash championships in Liverpool next month, according to the women's draw.

The longest-established and most prestigious event in world squash, the Dunlop British Open - Liverpool 2008 will be staged at the city's new ECHO Arena Liverpool from 10-12 May following qualifying and early rounds at the Liverpool Cricket Club from 6 May.

David, who is in her third year at the top of the world rankings, is expected to reach the final for the fourth successive year.  The 24-year-old two times champion from Malaysia will be eager to make up for the disappointment of a shock loss to Australian Rachael Grinham in last year's final in Manchester

Nicol David notched up her 40th WISPA World Tour final appearance when she won last month's KL Open on home soil.  In a remarkable run since winning the British Open title for the first time in October 2005, Nicol David has competed in 25 Tour events - reaching the finals on all but two occasions!

Title-holder Rachael Grinham is one of three players making their 12th consecutive appearances in the event since debuting in 1997.  Winner of the prestigious trophy in 2003, 2004 and 2007, the 31-year-old former world number one from Queensland enjoyed a stunning return to form last year - when she also won the World Open title, for the first time, in Madrid.

Rachael, the third seed who is also drawn to face a qualifier in the first round, will be joined in the field by her younger sister Natalie Grinham.  The second seed will be competing in the event for the first time as a Dutch player after switching allegiance to the country in which she has lived for more than ten years in February.  Grinham junior, who in October battled with Rachael in the first World Open final featuring two sisters, is looking for her first British Open title after finishing as runner-up in 2005.

Jenny Duncalf, the world No6 from Harrogate, leads British interest in the women's draw.  The 2007 British National champion and the reigning European Champion, is the event's fifth seed - and leads the domestic attack in the absence of England number one Tania Bailey, the world No5 from Lincolnshire who underwent surgery this month to repair a tear in the cartilage in her right knee.

But Duncalf faces a formidable first opponent in England team-mate Alison Waters, the 24-year-old world number 11 from London who succeeded 25-year-old Duncalf as British champion in February.

The draw for the first staging of the British Open in Liverpool has - remarkably - thrown up an all-Lancashire first round clash between two England team-mates.  Vicky Botwright, the 30-year-old No7 seed from Manchester, will face unseeded Laura Lengthorn-Massaro, a 24-year-old from Preston who is ranked just four places lower. 

Whilst Botwright dominated the early exchanges between the pair, Lengthorn emerged victorious in four of their five meetings so far this year.  The pair's career head-to-head tally in national and international meetings stands at 8-6 to Botwright:  County, national and international pride will be at stake when the two next meet in Liverpool!

Willstrop Eager To Get Hands On Dunlop British Open Trophy

England number one James Willstrop heads to Liverpool this week to compete in the Dunlop British Open - Liverpool 2008 squash championships after leading England to success in last week's European Championships - and admits that he would love to get his hands on the trophy of this "massive event".

The Yorkshireman, who rose to three in the world rankings this month, leads home interest in the 'Wimbledon of Squash' which will be staged for the first time in the city at the new ECHO Arena Liverpool from 10-12 May, following qualifying and early rounds at the Liverpool Cricket Club from 6 May.

In Saturday's European Team Championships' final in Holland, Willstrop fought back from 2/1 down to overcame career-long rival Gregory Gaultier, the world number two, in a 101-minute marathon as England forged a hard-fought 3/0.victory over France to clinch the title.

"Going into a tournament with a big win like that behind you can only boost your confidence," said the 24-year-old from Leeds.  In the opening match in Amsterdam, team-mate Peter Barker achieved a career-first win over world No5 Thierry Lincou, the former world number one.

"People think it's just going to happen - but it's not.  Greg and Thierry are formidable opponents - both ranked higher than us.  It was a hard task for both of us.

"But now we have to start all over again, and come down from the high and be ready for Liverpool.  Hopefully we'll take confidence from the achievements," explained Willstrop 

The British National champion is enjoying his best ever run on the PSA Tour.  In his seventh successive final appearance in March, Willstrop claimed his sixth major title win at the ISS Canary Wharf Classic in London - and went on to notch up 15 matches without defeat.

"I'm pleased with my recent form - but I don't feel I'm playing spectacularly well.  I've had some spectacular wins, but other times I've just had to grind it out.  I couldn't be going into the British Open in any better form - but I don't want to get carried away with it!"

The longest-established and most prestigious event in world squash, the British Open was first held more than 80 years ago and attracts elite international fields from all over the world. 

"The British Open is a massive event with huge prestige and lots of history.  Winning it is part of every squash player's hopes and aspirations - it's certainly part of mine," said the English star. 

"Furthermore, it's in my home country - which makes it even more special.

"I'd be very happy to get my hands on that trophy - so I just hope I can stay focussed and relaxed," added Willstrop.  "And just enjoy it!"

Willstrop, the runner-up in 2005, is seeded to reach the semi-finals.  He faces Pakistan teenager Aamir Atlas Khan - at 17, the youngest competitor in the main draw - in the first round.

Willstrop's England team-mates will all be in action in the first round of the Dunlop British Open - Liverpool 2008 at Liverpool Cricket Club.  Peter Barker, the No8 seed from Essex, faces wild card player Tom Pashley, from Sussex, while ninth-seeded Yorkshireman Lee Beachill - Willstrop's Pontefract club-mate - takes on Essex's Daryl Selby.

Adrian Grant, the left-hander from London who won the deciding match in the European final, faces a qualifier in the opening round, and England debutant Joey Barrington, meets Finland's 14th seed Olli Tuominen.

Champions Return To Defend Dunlop British Open Masters Titles In Liverpool

Nine defending champions will compete in the Dunlop British Open Masters - Liverpool 2008 in one of the strongest entries in the history of the world's largest annual Masters squash event.

Thirteen age-group events, ranging from men's and women's Over-35 categories to men's Over-70, will run in conjunction with Dunlop British Open – Liverpool 2008 men’s and women’s championships which will be held at the city's new ECHO Arena Liverpool from 10-12 May, following qualifying and early rounds at the Liverpool Cricket Club from 6 May.

Such has been the demand for places in the Masters draws in the event's first ever appearance in Liverpool that Crosby Northern Sports Club have agreed to support the championships as a hosting partner, alongside the ECHO Arena Liverpool and Liverpool Cricket Club.

Crosby Northern Sports Club will host Masters matches on Thursday 8th and Friday 9th May 2008 from 9.00am to 10.00pm. 

"I would just like to say how pleased we are at Crosby Northern Sports Club to have been selected to host the first two days of the Dunlop British Open Masters Tournament," said the club's Squash Chairman Roy Grainger.   "As this is the premier event in the squash calendar, we are eagerly looking forward to seeing some of the best squash in the country being played on our own doorstep."

England High Performance Coach David Campion is top seed in the Men's Over-35 championship.  Runner-up in the 1990 World Junior Championship, the Yorkshireman is appearing in his first Masters event.

Dutchman Lucas Buit is seeded to retain his title in the Over-40 event.  The nine-time national champion is expected to face Manchester's Yawar Abbas, the British National Over-40 champion, in the final.

Gloucestershire's 2006 champion Mark Woodliffe is expected to reclaim the Over-45 crown he lost last year.  It could be a Woodliffe family double - as father John Woodliffe is also seeded to reach the Over-70 final.  But the reigning World Masters champion will have stiff opposition from fellow Surrey veteran Pat Kirton, the defending champion who is seeded to win his ninth Masters title!

Peter Alexander, the Over-50 title-holder from Suffolk, is seeded to reach the 2008 final - but it is Lancashire's Ian Bradburn, the reigning National champion in the age-group who is seeded to win.

Yorkshireman Ian Parke is returning from his home in Brno, in the Czech Republic, to defend his title in the Men's Over-55 event.  Philip Ayton is the overwhelming favourite in the Over-60 championship having followed his victory in last year's British Open event by winning the National title too in February.

Further Yorkshire success is also expected in the Men's Over-65 event where Hull-based Mike Clemson is expected to retain the title.

A new champion is predicted in the Women's Over-35 championship where National champion Jeannine Cowie, from Wigan, is expected to face last year's runner-up Claire Walker, from Yorkshire, in the final.

In the Over-40 event, former Dutch international Nicole Beumer is favourite to win her maiden British Masters crown in a final featuring last year's winner Ellie Pierce, from the USA.

The 2007 Women's Over-45 champion Victoria King, from Middlesex, is also expected to reach the 2008 final - but the event's top seed is Lincolnshire's Fran Wallis, the National champion in the age category.

Reigning Over-50 National champion Helen Gould, from Avon, is expected to add the British Open crown to her collection in Liverpool. 

It is a similar tale in the Over-55 championship where National champion Averil Murphy is the favourite.  But the Essex veteran will undoubtedly have still opposition from Worcestershire's defending champion Bett Dryhurst.

Champion Gaultier Set To Win Maiden Dunlop British Open Title In Liverpool

Defending champion Gregory Gaultier will arrive in Liverpool next month preparing to win the men's title in the Dunlop British Open Squash Championships for the first time!

The longest-established and most prestigious event in world squash, the Dunlop British Open - Liverpool 2008 will be staged at the city's new ECHO Arena Liverpool from 10-12 May, following qualifying and early rounds at the Liverpool Cricket Club from 6 May.

In some ways it seemed typical that the Frenchman had not thought much about the psychology of defending the sport's most prestigious title. 

Yet the world No3 from Aix-en-Provence will approach this year's championships knowing better than anyone that mind games influence the destiny of major titles - so blanking it may have been skilful too.

Gaultier thought intently about winning the World Open and twice got as far as the final hurdle. His approach was more relaxed leading up to last year's British Open in Manchester - and he became the first French winner in its 80-year history.

"Winning the British was a dream of mine - it's my biggest win ever," Gaultier said.  It was also a dream he had previously experienced, as a junior, which helped take some of the tension away.

Still, the feeling of trying to win a big title is not at all like the feeling of defending it, so whilst acknowledging that the difference between the two needed addressing, he wasn't going to get too focused on it.

“I didn't think about how I will take it,” he said. “I don't know. There are not many tournaments that I win and have to defend titles!

“Probably my coach and I will talk about it. But I won't be thinking about defending something. I'm going to try to win something, you know. I'll try to think it's a new thing to win.”

That's not just a mental device, it's an accurate description in quite specific ways. This time he will be competing in May, not September, and in a quite different ambience at the hugely impressive ECHO Arena Liverpool - and the opposition will likely be different too.

Last time Gaultier overcame Englishmen Jonathan Kemp and Adrian Grant; Egyptian Amr Shabana; and France's Thierry Lincou.  It was a great effort to get the better of his more senior compatriot in the final and the world number one in the semis.

This time though there will be another Egyptian, Ramy Ashour, the reigning ATCO Super Series Finals champion and the brightest new star in a decade, contending for the title.

Nor should he rule out some of the other usual suspects - two former British Open champions, David Palmer and Nick Matthew; one nearly champion in James Willstrop; and one still-could-be champion in Karim Darwish.

Can Gaultier fight them off?  Much will depend on his recovery from a wrist injury which spoiled the first three months of his year.  He took two weeks off but the pain returned and he then took another three weeks off which he believes may have solved the problem.

There have been injury problems too for Ashour, who nevertheless won the Tournament of Champions in New York, PACE Canadian Classic and Hurghada International - while Shabana, who finished 2007 with five successive titles and exhaustion, has looked generally unimpressive and his form is very much an unknown quantity.

If Gaultier doesn't win again, his eight-month tenure will have made him the briefest British Open champion, but don't count on that being the Frenchman's latest record - it is already a tournament where he has repeated his dreams.

Champion Gaultier Gets Zaman In Dunlop British Open Draw

Frenchman Gregory Gaultier will begin the defence of his men's title in next month's Dunlop British Open Squash Championships in Liverpool against Pakistan number one Mansoor Zaman, according to the draw for the PSA Tour Super Series event.

The longest-established and most prestigious event in world squash, the Dunlop British Open - Liverpool 2008 will be staged at the city's new ECHO Arena Liverpool from 10-12 May following qualifying and early rounds at the Liverpool Cricket Club from 6 May.

Gaultier beat compatriot Thierry Lincou in last year's Dunlop British Open final in Manchester to become the first French champion in the 80-year history of the event.  The 25-year-old from Aix-en-Provence is the event's third seed - and would expect to meet Egypt's world number one Amr Shabana in the semi-final in the top half of the draw.

Shabana, who won the World Open crown for the third time in December, is seeded to win the British Open for the first time.  The 28-year-old from Cairo faces Italy's highest-ranked player Davide Bianchetti in the opening round.

All eyes will be on the sport's rising star Ramy Ashour, the 20-year-old Egyptian who shot to second place in the world rankings last year in only his third year on the World Tour.  The No2 seed - who beat Shabana for the second time this year in last week's Hurghada International final in his homeland - will meet Gloucestershire's up-and-coming Alister Walker, the 25-year-old England No7 who is based in Leeds.

Remarkably, it will be Ashour's maiden appearance in the 'Wimbledon' of Squash.

Home interest in the world’s most prestigious championships will focus on Yorkshireman Nick Matthew who will make an emotional return to British Open action in Liverpool.  Two years ago in Nottingham, the world No6 from Sheffield became the first true Englishman for 67 years to become British Open champion.  Matthew underwent shoulder surgery in January and will be making his Tour comeback on Merseyside, where he will face fellow Englishman Tom Pashley, the wild card entrant from Sussex, in the opening round.

Fellow Yorkshireman James Willstrop, the runner-up in 2005, is seeded to reach the semi-finals and will take on Pakistan teenager Aamir Atlas Khan - at 17, the youngest competitor in the main draw - in the first round.

Australia's former world champion David Palmer will be making his 12th successive appearance in the event when he steps onto the court to face a qualifier in the first round.  The 31-year-old from Lithgow in New South Wales - now based in Boston, USA - is a three times winner of the British Open trophy and one of five former world number ones competing in the event.

Egyptian Stars Ashour & Shabana To Compete In Dunlop British Open

Egyptian squash stars Amr Shabana and Ramy Ashour - ranked one and two in the world, respectively - have confirmed their participation in the 2008 Dunlop British Open Squash Championships, the longest-established and most prestigious event in world squash which will take place first time in Liverpool next month.

Widely regarded as the 'Wimbledon' of Squash, the Dunlop British Open - Liverpool 2008 will be staged at the city's new Echo Arena from 8-12 May following qualifying and early rounds at the Liverpool Cricket Club.

Battles between Shabana and Ashour have become the most sought-after spectacle on the international squash circuit.  The pair contested the final of the 5-star Hurghada International in Egypt - and did not disappoint the capacity crowd surrounding the all-glass court on the promenade of the country's Red Sea resort.

Shabana, who this month celebrated his 25th successive month at the top of the men's world rankings, twice levelled the match after his prodigiously-talented 20-year-old opponent took early leads.  But it was Ashour who ultimately prevailed, upsetting his 'elder statesman' opponent 11-10 (2-0), 9-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-10 (2-0) in 79 minutes in their fourth successive meeting in a PSA Tour event final.

Ashour will make his maiden appearance in the British Open in Liverpool:  "Injury prevented me from playing last year and therefore this year's British Open will be extra special," said the Cairo-based Egyptian.  "English crowds have always given me a lot of support, and having not played in England since winning the ATCO Super Series Finals last August, I'm really looking forward to playing two back-to-back events," added Ashour, who will contest the British Open in Liverpool before defending his ATCO Super Series Finals title at the Broadgate Arena in London from the 19-23 May.

Following an enforced two-month injury break, Ashour capped a successful return to the Men's World Tour in January by capturing the Tournament of Champions title in New York, then the Canadian Classic in Toronto in February. The inclusion of the young Egyptian will ensure that the Dunlop British Open - Liverpool 2008 will be one of the most exciting and eagerly contested championships in its illustrious history.

Shabana, who won his third World Open title in December, has yet to win the British Open crown - the only major trophy to have eluded him so far in his illustrious career.

"I’m really looking forward to the British Open,” said the 28-year-old. “For some reason, I’ve never really performed to my best at the event and I’m determined to give it my best shot this year. Its amazing when you look back at the great players who have won the British Open and it would be fantastic to have my name on the trophy alongside the likes of Jonah Barrington, Geoff Hunt, Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan,” added Shabana.

Shabana's 25th month at the top of the world rankings celebrated the longest unbroken run as world No1 since the legendary Pakistani Jansher Khan more than ten years ago.

Amr’s record over the past three years has been incredible and it is therefore even more surprising that he still has not won the British Open.

"Like all of the Egyptian players, Amr has a real respect for the history of the sport and it will be fascinating to see how he is able to translate that into his challenge for the title this year.  Not only is he the most consistent player on the Men’s World Tour, but he is arguably the most exciting to watch and certainly one of the most charismatic.  His entry in this year’s championship will undoubtedly prove a major attraction for all spectators in Liverpool and is further testament to the highest regard that the players hold for the championships.".

Leading challengers will include three Egyptians, Amr Shabana, Ramy Ashour and Karim Darwish; two Frenchmen, Gregory Gaultier, the defending champion, and Thierry Lincou; an Australian, David Palmer, and England's Nick Matthew, the 2006 British Open Champion, and James Willstrop.

Dunlop British Open Unveils International Sport At Liverpool Echo Arena

The Dunlop British Open Squash Championships, the longest-established and most prestigious event in world squash, comes to Liverpool for the first time next month - and will become the first international sporting event to be staged in the city's new Echo Arena.

Widely regarded as the 'Wimbledon' of Squash, the British Open was first held more than 80 years ago and attracts elite international fields from all over the world. 

The Dunlop British Open - Liverpool 2008 boasts a galaxy of squash stars, led by the world's top ten men and women - and also features the world's largest and most successful annual Masters Championships, with 13 events ranging from men's and women's Over-35 age group categories to en's Over-70.

With the qualifying competitions and early rounds of the main events getting underway at the Liverpool Cricket Club from Tuesday 6 May, action moves onto the spectacular all-glass show court in the Echo Arena from Friday 9 May through to the finals on Monday 12 May. 

Liverpool Echo Arena is a state-of-the-art 10,000-seater arena, situated in the Kings Dock on the River Mersey.  Opened in January this year, the arena hosted the opening ceremony of the Capital of Culture Year.

Due to unprecedented demand for places in the Masters Championships, Crosby Northern Sports Club will become a hosting partner alongside the ECHO Arena Liverpool and Liverpool Cricket Club - staging Masters matches on 8th and 9th May.

World number ones Amr Shabana and Nicol David will head the distinguished casts in Liverpool.  Shabana, from Giza near Cairo, celebrated 25 consecutive months at the top of the men's world rankings this month, thereby becoming the longest-serving number one since Pakistan's legendary Jansher Khan more than ten years ago. 

Now in her third year as women's world number one, Nicol David has become Malaysia's most successful international sportsperson of all-time - and last December was voted the 'Asian Sportswoman of the Year'.



Men's Over 35 quarter-finals:

[1] David Campion (Yorks) bt [5/8] Jamie Goodrich (Norfolk)  9-3, 9-7, 10-8 (42m)

[3/4] Simon Frenz (Germany) bt Mike Lomas (Cheshire)  9-1, 9-1, 9-2 (23m)

[3/4] Kevin White (Derbyshire) bt Predi Fritsche (Germany)  6-9, 9-2, 9-0, 9-5 (58m)

[2] Steve Richardson (Ireland) bt [5/8] Jason Foster (Essex)  9-0, 9-3, 9-4 (25m)


[1] David Campion (Yorks) bt [3/4] Simon Frenz (Germany)  9-0, 9-5, 9-1 (28m)

[2] Steve Richardson (Ireland) bt [3/4] Kevin White (Derbyshire)  9-5, 9-0, 9-4 (32m)


[1] David Campion (Yorks) bt [2] Steve Richardson (Ireland)  3-9, 9-10, 9-5, 9-5, 9-4 (83m)


Men's Over 40 quarter-finals:

[1] Lucas Buit (Netherlands) bt [5/8] David Youngs (England)  9-3, 5-9, 9-1, 9-0 (31m)

[9/16] Cliff Martindale (Surrey) bt [9/16] Steve Evans (Wales)  2-9, 9-3, 7-9, 9-7, 9-2 (72m)

[5/8] Stephen McLoughlin (Hants) bt [3/4] Peter Gunter (Middx)  9-4, 9-2, 5-9, 4-9, 9-7 (98m)

[2] Yawar Abbas (D & C) bt [5/8] Gary Clarke (Warwicks)  9-3, 9-3, 9-1 (26m)


[1] Lucas Buit (Netherlands) bt [9/16] Cliff Martindale (Surrey)  9-3, 9-0, 9-1 (22m)

[2] Yawar Abbas (D & C) bt [5/8] Stephen McLoughlin (Hants)  9-0, 9-7, 9-3 (34m)


[1] Lucas Buit (Netherlands) bt [2] Yawar Abbas (D & C)  9-0, 9-0, 9-3 (30m)


Men's Over 45 quarter-finals:

[1] Mark Woodliffe (Glos) bt Steve Martin (Yorks)  9-3, 9-0, 9-2 (21m)

[3/4] Greg Pearman (Surrey) bt [5/8] Chris Harland (Yorks)  9-3, 9-2, 9-1 (22m)

[3/4] Steven Calvert (Northumbria) bt [5/8] Greg Loach (Derbyshire)  9-2, 9-2, 5-9, 9-0 (59m)

[2] Alan Thomson (Middx) bt [9/16] Mark Hurd (Dorset)  9-6, 10-8, 9-5 (29m)


[1] Mark Woodliffe (Glos) bt [3/4] Greg Pearman (Surrey)  5-9, 9-10, 9-6, 9-4, 9-1 (61m)

[2] Alan Thomson (Middx) bt [3/4] Steven Calvert (Northumbria)  9-1, 9-7, 9-2 (32m)


[1] Mark Woodliffe (Glos) bt [2] Alan Thomson (Middx)  9-7, 9-4, 9-4 (37m)


Men's Over 50 quarter-finals:

[1] Ian Bradburn (Lancs) bt [5/8] Stuart Hardy (Wilts)  9-0, 9-5, 4-9, 9-0 (27m)

Colin Shields (D & C) bt Martin Ballands (Kent)  9-4, 9-0, 9-4 (23m)

[3/4] Peter Upton (Lancs) bt Sergio Orduna (Switzerland)  9-2, 9-5, 9-4 (45m)

[5/8] Peter Carey (South Africa) bt [2] Peter Alexander (Suffolk)  7-9, 10-9, 9-3, 9-4 (47m)


[1] Ian Bradburn (Lancs) bt Colin Shields (D & C)  9-0, 9-2, 9-2 (21m)

[5/8] Peter Carey (South Africa) bt [3/4] Peter Upton (Lancs)  10-8, 5-9, 9-1, 9-3 (45m)


[1] Ian Bradburn (Lancs) v [5/8] Peter Carey (South Africa)


Men's Over 55 quarter-finals:

[5/8] Ian Holmes (Northants) bt [9/16] Andrew Larkin (Surrey)  9-5, 4-9, 9-4, 9-1 (33m)

[5/8] Bruce Turner (Australia) bt [3/4] John Duckworth (Cheshire)  6-9, 9-4, 9-6, 10-9 (44m)

[3/4] Geoff Redfern (Warwicks) bt [9/16] Bob Robinson (Yorks)  9-4, 9-1, 9-3 (23m)

[2] David Lumsden (D & C) bt [5/8] Paul Reader (Hants)  10-9, 6-9, 9-3, 9-5 (40m)


[5/8] Bruce Turner (Australia) bt [5/8] Ian Holmes (Northants)  1-9, 9-1, 9-6, 9-3 (34m)

[3/4] Geoff Redfern (Warwicks) bt [2] David Lumsden (D & C)  9-1, 9-7, 9-7 (36m)


[3/4] Geoff Redfern (Warwicks) bt [5/8] Bruce Turner (Australia)  9-2, 10-9, 9-3 (35m)


Men's Over 60 quarter-finals:

[1] Philip Ayton (Sussex) bt [5/8] Geoff Howes (Surrey)  9-4, 10-8, 9-1 (27m)

[3/4] Howard Cherlin (Middx) bt [5/8] Mike Taylor (England)  9-3, 9-10, 9-5, 9-4 (38m)

[3/4] Barry Featherstone (Hants) bt [5/8] John Smith (Northumbria)  9-0, 6-9, 9-4, 9-4 (40m)

[2] Brian Cook (Australia) bt [5/8] Chris Ansell (Berks)  9-6, 9-2, 9-5


[1] Philip Ayton (Sussex) bt [3/4] Howard Cherlin (Middx)  9-1, 9-0, 4-9, 9-7 (33m)

[2] Brian Cook (Australia) bt [3/4] Barry Featherstone (Hants)  9-5, 9-2, 7-9, 9-7 (48m)


[1] Philip Ayton (Sussex) bt [2] Brian Cook (Australia)  9-4, 9-1, 9-1 (27m)


Men's Over 65 quarter-finals:

[1] Mike Clemson (Yorks) bt John Preston (Herts)  9-1, 9-3, 9-0 (15m)

[3/4] William Wilson (Cheshire) bt Myron Evans (Ireland)  9-1, 9-0, 9-4 (25m)

[3/4] Len Froggitt (Herts) bt Brian Dobson (England)  9-3, 9-7, 10-8 (24m)

[2] Adrian Wright (Leics) bt Neil Thomson (Scotland)  9-1, 9-6, 9-4 (23m)


[1] Mike Clemson (Yorks) bt [3/4] William Wilson (Cheshire)  9-1, 8-10, 9-1, 9-1 (37m)

[2] Adrian Wright (Leics) bt [3/4] Len Froggitt (Herts)  10-8, 6-9, 4-9, 9-5, 9-5 (51m)


[1] Mike Clemson (Yorks) bt [2] Adrian Wright (Leics)  4-9, 9-2, 9-6, 10-9 (30m)


Men's Over 70 quarter-finals:

[1] Pat Kirton (Surrey) bt Gordon Ross (Middx)  9-2, 9-0, 9-1 (17m)

[3/4] Lance Kinder (Hants) bt Alex Richardson (Ireland)  3-9, 9-6, 8-10, 9-7, 9-4 (49m)

Anthony Seare (Sussex) bt [3/4] Malcolm Gilham (Suffolk)  9-1, 9-3, 9-5 (21m)

[2] John Woodliffe (Glos) bt Malcolm McArthur (D & C)  9-0, 9-2, 9-1 (17m)


[1] Pat Kirton (Surrey) bt [3/4] Lance Kinder (Hants)  9-4, 9-7, 9-5 (35m)

[2] John Woodliffe (Glos) bt Anthony Seare (Sussex)  9-3, 9-3, 9-5 (21m)


[1] Pat Kirton (Surrey) bt [2] John Woodliffe (Glos)  9-4, 9-4, 5-9, 9-5 (45m)


Women's Over 35 quarter-finals:

[1] Jeannine Cowie (Lancs)  bye

[3/4] Vaso Karasava (Cyprus) bt Linda Winder (Cumbria)  9-6, 9-3, 8-10, 10-9 (49m)

[3/4] Bea de Dreu-Spitse (Netherlands) bt Nicola Fowler (Cheshire)  9-4, 9-7, 9-4 (28m)

[2] Claire Walker (Yorks) bt Isabelle Tyrrell (Notts)  3-9, 9-6, 9-2, 9-1 (30m)


[1] Jeannine Cowie (Lancs) bt [3/4] Vaso Karasava (Cyprus)  4-9, 9-1, 9-0, 9-5 (33m)

[2] Claire Walker (Yorks) bt [3/4] Bea de Dreu-Spitse (Netherlands)  9-5, 9-2, 9-1 (22m)


[1] Jeannine Cowie (Lancs) bt [2] Claire Walker (Yorks)  9-3, 9-7, 6-9, 9-0 (40m)


Women's Over 40 quarter-finals:

[1] Ellie Pierce (USA) bt [5/8] Ashley Mears (Scotland)  9-10, 9-1, 9-4, 9-4 (52m)

[3/4] Bea de Dreu-Spitse (Netherlands) bt [5/8] Linda Winder (Cumbria)  5-9, 9-3, 9-0, 9-3 (39m)

[3/4] Vaso Karasava (Cyprus) bt [5/8] Jo Cooper (Leics)  9-6, 9-7, 5-9, 9-7 (49m)

[2] Samantha Willis (Northants) bt [5/8] Fiona McLean (Berks)  9-7, 9-1, 9-4 (28m)


[1] Ellie Pierce (USA) bt [3/4] Bea de Dreu-Spitse (Netherlands)  9-1, 9-1, 9-4 (28m)

[2] Samantha Willis (Northants) bt [3/4] Vaso Karasava (Cyprus)  4-9, 9-6, 9-0, 9-1 (25m)


[1] Ellie Pierce (USA) bt [2] Samantha Willis (Northants)  9-2, 6-9, 9-3, 9-0 (33m)


Women's Over 45 quarter-finals:

[1] Fran Wallis (Lincs) bt Jacky Gregory (Essex)  9-5, 9-1, 9-4 (24m)

[3/4] Heather Tweedle (Merseyside) bt [5/8] Susan Pynegar (Notts)  9-2, 9-3, 9-0 (17m)

[3/4] Mandy Akin (Kent) bt [5/8] Fiona McLean (Berks)  9-3, 9-1, 9-2 (17m)

[5/8] Lesley Sturgess (Derbyshire) bt [2] Victoria King (Middx)  w/o


[3/4] Heather Tweedle (Merseyside) bt [1] Fran Wallis (Lincs)  9-6, 9-6, 9-6 (36m)

[3/4] Mandy Akin (Kent) bt [5/8] Lesley Sturgess (Derbyshire)  9-4, 9-2, 5-9, 4-9, 9-7 (98m)


[3/4] Mandy Akin (Kent) bt [3/4] Heather Tweedle (Merseyside)  9-4, 8-10, 9-7, 9-4 (40m)


Women's Over 50 quarter-finals:

[1] Helen Gould (Avon)  bye

[3/4] Jacky Gardner (D & C) bt Carolyn Roylance (Lincs)  9-2, 9-3, 9-0 (17m)

[3/4] Karen Hume (Kent) bt Kath Kemp (Essex)  9-5, 9-1, 6-9, 9-4 (37m)

[2] Juliet O'Neill (Avon) bt Jane Law (Cheshire)  9-4, 9-3, 9-3 (23m)


[3/4] Jacky Gardner (D & C) bt [1] Helen Gould (Avon)  9-5, 5-9, 9-4, 9-5 (38m)

[3/4] Karen Hume (Kent) bt [2] Juliet O'Neill (Avon)  0-9, 2-9, 9-4, 9-3, 9-7 (49m)


[3/4] Jacky Gardner (D & C) bt [3/4] Karen Hume (Kent)  9-6, 9-2, 9-5 (45m)


Women's Over 55 final:

Maggie North (Surrey) bt Bett Dryhurst (Worcs)  9-5, 9-6, 2-9, 9-4 (45m)



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