British Open 2006

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Dunlop British Open 2006

Above: Nick Matthew from England claims major British Open Title against Frenchman Thierry Lincou
 

Matthew Celebrates Historic Dunlop British Open Success

 

Yorkshireman Nick Matthew upset Frenchman Thierry Lincou in tonight's (Monday) nail-biting men's final of the Dunlop British Open Squash Championships at the University of Nottingham to become the first home-grown champion of the world's most prestigious event for 67 years.

 

While both finalists were seeking their maiden men's title, Malaysia's Nicol David beat Australia's two-times champion Rachael Grinham in the other main final to successfully defend her women's title.

 

Matthew, the 26-year-old sixth seed from Sheffield, came into the final knowing that his opponent had endured a marathon semi-final encounter less than 24 hours earlier – in which he had had to save five match balls before surviving against David Palmer, the world champion from Australia.

 

But the Englishman, loudly supported by a packed crowd swollen by supporters from both his home club Hallamshire and adopted Derbyshire club Duffield, also knew that he had only once before beaten the former world champion from Marseille in 11 meetings over the past five years.

 

Lincou twice levelled the match after the local hero forged game leads.  And in the decider, the third-seeded Frenchman moved 4-0 ahead.

 

But Matthew bravely stuck to his task and clinched eight points in a row to move within three of the title.  Long and tense rallies ensued before Matthew flung his racket in the air in jubilation to claim his sensational 11-8, 5-11, 11-4, 9-11, 11-6 victory after 82 minutes.

 

"The enormity of it hasn't sunk in yet – but most of my thoughts at this moment are for the people who have helped me get here, including my clubs (Hallamshire and Duffield), my family, and the England Squash team including coaches and physios," said an emotional Matthew afterwards.

 

When asked about his opponent, Matthew said:  "The respect that the whole world has for Thierry is incredible.  He's very proud and very strong – not just in his fitness, but in his mind.  What an effort by him tonight!

 

"How he dug out that performance was remarkable.  Only Peter Nicol was capable of that – and now he's taken over the mantle.

 

"I rang Peter last night and asked him a couple of things.  He's been a real mentor to all of us," explained the first home-grown champion since Jim Dear won the title in 1939.

 

"I learned a lot about myself after losing (to Wael El Hindi) in Cairo a few weeks ago – and worked hard with my coaches when I got back.  You can learn more from defeat than from a win.

 

"This has to be the pinnacle of my achievements," added the 2006 British Open champion.

 

Lincou was remarkably upbeat following his exhausting battle:  "I tried not to think about all the energy I used up last night – I tried to stay focussed.  It was very close, but I was just a bit flat at the end.

 

"But it's been a fantastic week with three good wins, including the world champion (David Palmer), Greg (Gregory Gaultier) and Lee Beachill.

 

"It would have been the icing on the cake to win tonight – but I am really pleased with the squash I produced," added the runner-up.

 

Nicol David extended her unbeaten record since the Commonwealth Games in March when she beat Australia 's two-times champion Rachael Grinham in an hour-long women's final.  The match took 41 minutes, but top seed Nicol was ahead from the outset before clinching her 9-4, 9-1, 9-4 win over the third-seeded Australian.

 

"She's just so dangerous and keeps changing her game – I had to really fight my way through," said David of her opponent after winning her fourth WISPA World Tour title in a row.

 

The world number acknowledged the great help Australia 's record five-times British Open champion Sarah Fitz-Gerald - who today won the British Open Over-35 title for the second time - had been to her in an eve-of-event training session in Manchester last week.

 

"Just being on court with Sarah is so inspiring," said the 23-year-old from Penang .  "She works the ball so well, no-one plays the way she does.  She was a fantastic help – I can't think of a better way of preparing for an event like this.

 

"Winning the British Open again is another important step up for me," added David.

 

Grinham was not unduly unhappy with her performance:  "I feel I could have been a little faster tonight, but I'm happy with the way I played.

 

"But Nicol is looking better than I've ever seen her before – she was clearly really up for this tournament.

 

"In fact, I hope she's peaked for this – I don't want to see her like this next time!" added the 29-year-old Queenslander.

 

 


SEMI-FINALS

Lincou Comeback Drama as Palmer Chokes

In the most dramatic British Open semi-final ever Frenchman Thierry Lincou, came back from 2/0 down and form 8-3 in the fifth game to save five matchballs and put World Champion David Palmer out of the British Open. It was an heroic performance in a sporting spectacle that will live in the memories of all those that watched it and stood and clapped and cheered to a man (and a woman) to honour both players and acknowledge Lincou’s achievement.

Palmer chocked. Memories of his failure at Liverpool earlier this year when Lincou came back from 2/0 down came to haunt him. At times the world champion was his strong imposing self, driving powerfully and striking incisively for winners. He felt good yesterday, almost frisky on the boards and was looking forward to improvement as he played on. He established leads in both the first two games, 10-5 in the first and 7-3 and 9-6 in the second, only to stumble as he tried to finish them. Perhaps it was that rashness in his finishing, the lose of his keen focus and then the faltering in his confidence that followed that was the key his demise. Perhaps it was this early in the match that the fears of a collapse from the traumatic experience of Liverpool came back to haunt him. All his experience (and no doubt the tactical advice he was receiving from his coach Shawn Moxham) told him to drive his opponent back and then attack at the openings, and to use a little more margin for error when he did attack. However he did not. He speculated in high-risk shots and as his opponent closed in on his lead there were the first signs of panic.

Palmer however did play well. The drama of what was about to unfold should not detract from the fact that this was brilliant compelling encounter. Palmer’s hard driving and volleying pressurised Lincou and although the Frenchman got back to 10-all in the second he tinned and tragically slipped when retrieving a backhand drop to screams of frustration. Two down and no one would have given Lincou a chance. Palmer, the world champion, had survived his impetuousness and started to look good for adding the British Open title to his world crown.

Palmer’s early lead in the third was soon turned around however and at 8-all he started to rattle the tin – a forehand drop , a forehand volley another forehand volley in the tin to give his opponent the chance to play the final crosscourt volley kill that gave the Frenchman the game 11-9. Palmer’s game had again fallen apart and this time he did not escape.

Palmer looked shaky and played shakily to loose the fourth 11-4 as Lincou, who had taken 80 minutes to subdue his opponent Gregory Gaultier the night before, kept resurrecting himself while Palmer banged away on the tin.

At two all Palmer desperately needed to get back into his game. He did, he rallied, rallied strongly but at the back of this observers mind was the nagging question of whether Palmer’s game would implode again.

Lets marred the contest. Three in a row at 2-all, another three, at 3-2 and all the while Palmer was building rallies properly, finishing with volleys and piling the pressure on his opponent as he pulled away. He was clear. He had made a mess of this match and that would damage his British Open title chances, for he should have been off 3/0 but he had survived. 6-2 and he was making good progress, there was applause for his winners and his confidence was back. Lincou, the desperately tired Lincou, stopped running for a shot at 8-3. Palmer was almost home. Then Lincou hit a forehand volley nick, an unbelievable nick virtually unplayable and so started one of the most brilliant comebacks in Open history. 4-8 and Lincou stopped to claim a stroke for a high loose ball to be rewarded with a let over his vocal protests. Referee Gingell rewarded him a moment later however with a stroke on a less certain infringement from Palmer - this in a charged atmosphere. Then another two before Palmer desperate to finish tinned to level the scores at 8-all.

Then in some of the most climatic moments in squash history Palmer struck with a deceptive backhand crosscourt kill that sent Lincou the wrong way and then pumped his fist and shouted “Yes” as his opponent slipped and he won matchball. But after the three successive strokes there were three not lets for Palmer as he desperately tried to convert a matchball. Five were squandered amongst acrobatic retrievals, all with much grunting and great agony from Lincou and a headlong dive from Palmer that did not earn a let. Lincou was warned as his struck Palmer with the ball going for the front wall but he earnt the point.

Palmer’s last play, his fifth matchball was a desperate intercept of Lincou’s frontcourt drive that ended up in the bottom of the tin. That leveled the scores at 13-all. Palmer tinned, again a high risk shot off the backhand wall and then desperately tinned a clinging ball off the forehand to put an exhausted Lincou in the final as the crowd stood in a standing ovation in the squash night of there lives.

“Each time he hit the tin it was a gift from God,” said Lincou. “I was exhausted but it was a mental battle.

“This is one of my greatest moments – to achieve a win like that and to live this moment.”

Miracles do happen, and it will be another one if Lincou can follow that draining performance with a British Open win. Nick Matthew will have a smile on his face.

 

Matthew in final

In the first semi-final Nick Matthew earnt the chance to add the Open title to the National one he holds with a convincing semi-final win over the Egyptian Karim Darwish 11-9, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6 in 61 minutes.

This was an intreging battle, scrappy at times, with a little edge, full of incisive shots and for a long time in doubt.

Matthew took the first 11-9 after Darwish had established a 6-3 lead in the long rallies, three unforced errors having ended in the tin following attacking backhands but he got it back with dying drives to level, and then take the lead 7-6 with a backhand drop that this time scored. He hung onto that miniscual lead as Darwish came back at him, disputed a no let and then as the Egyptian struck out with a crosscourt forehand volley nick off a nearly clinging ball that fortunately sat up, he caressed in a beautiful straight drop to take the vital first game.

Darwish’s clever front court play took the second despite falling foul of Referee Clayton with a series of no lets.

It was scrappy, Matthew admitted it afterwards, and the frustration Karim felt affected his performance. He faded markedly after a dispute with Mathew ahead 3-4 and errors and mishits marred with play thereafter. There were many fine rallies but Matthew now had the edge, went 9-4 ahead and secured the third 11-6.

“At one all I new the third was crucial,” said Matthew. “I upped the pace and got on top again.”

The fourth was competitiive again but from 2-3 Matthew was through to 7-3 in a hand and a no let and a conduct warning compoundd Darwish’s frustration. He went out 11-6 and immediately exited the venue.

Matthew was off in 61 minutes and with his brief foraries against Stewart Boswell and Willstrop will be able to compete in the final without depleted reserves.

“I have the advantage of the other guys playing tonight,” he explained of his afternoon semi-final. “After this I have three week off. Everything has to be left on the court.”

ROUND ONE
. Shabana Out

. Giant Killer White falls

QUALIFYING:
.
Barker Survives

.
Barker & Grant
. Parke Overcomes Hurdle

PREVIEW:
. Palmer In  Double Bid
. White  Home Coming

. Men's Qualifying
. Women's  Qualifying

MEN'S DRAW
W
OMEN'S DRAW

 



Peter Barker Survives qualifying to meet Karim Darwish ijn Main Draw

No 1 seed Nicol David safely through
Vanessa Atkinson,
the no.2 seed crashes
out in first round
England representative Alison Waters upsets former world no.1 Atkinson while her team-mate Jenny Duncalf falls to Grainger
Ong Beng Hee puts out titleholder Anthony Ricketts in first round
Dunlop British Open 2006: Men's Draw
9-17 October 2005
 
Round One
15-Sep
Quarters
16-Sep
Semis
17-Sep
Final
18-Sep
[1] Amr Shabana (Egy)
7-11, 10-11 (3-5), 9-11, 11-10 (2-0), 11-5 (75m)
John White (Sco)                 
John White
6-11, 9-11,
11-8, 11-8, 11-4
Karim Darwish
Karim Darwish

11-9, 9-11,
11-6, 11-6 (61m)

Nick Matthew
Nick Matthew
11-8, 5-11, 11-4, 9-11, 11-6 (82m)
Thierry Linco
u
[8] Karim Darwish (Egy)
11-8, 9-11, 11-4, 11-5 (57m)
[Q] Peter Barker (Eng)         
[4] James Willstrop (Eng)
11/4, 11/10(2-0), 8/11, 11/8
Azlan Iskandar (Mas)            
James Willstrop
11-7, 11-5 ret (33m)
Nick Matthew
[6] Nick Matthew (Eng)
11/7, 11/4, 11,7 (45m)
[Q] Stewart Boswell (Aus)      12.00
[Q] Mohammed Abbas (Egy) 
11-6, 11-3, 12-10
[7] Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
Gregory Gaultier
11-1, 5-11,
9-11, 11-7, 11-6 (80m)
Thierry Lincou
Thierry Lincou
8-11, 10-12, 11-9, 11-4,
11-10 (5-3)
David Palmer
 
Lee Beachill (Eng)                
5-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-10 (3-1)
[3] Thierry Lincou (Fra)
[Q] Ong Beng Hee (Mas)      
11-10 (2-0), 11-10 (2-0, 11-8 (56m)
[5] Anthony Ricketts (Aus)
Ong Beng Hee
11-9, 12-10,
11-6
David Palmer
Chris Simpson (Eng)  
11-5, 11-1, 11-4
[2] David Palmer (Aus)

Men's Qualifying

 

Men's qualifying finals:

Ong Beng Hee (MAS) bt Davide Bianchetti (ITA)                  11-10 (2-0), 11-6, 10-11 (0-2), 11-5 (63m)

Mohammed Abbas (EGY) bt Laurens Jan Anjema (NED)      11-7, 11-5, 11-9 (39m)

Peter Barker (ENG) bt Adrian Grant (ENG)                           11-6, 11-10 (3-1), 2-11, 2-11, 11-7 (96m)

Stewart Boswell (AUS) bt Alex Gough (WAL)                       11-7, 11-5, 10-11 (0-2), 4-11, 11-4 (76m)

    Women's qualifying finals:

Natalie Grainger (USA) bt Tegwen Malik (WAL)                    w/o

Lauren Briggs (ENG) bt Dominique Lloyd-Walter (ENG)        8-10, 9-6, 9-2, 9-2 (75m)

Isabelle Stoehr (FRA) bt Manuela Manetta (ITA)                  6-9, 9-3, 9-1, 9-3 (58m)

Annelize Naude (NED) bt Rebecca Botwright (ENG)             9-4, 9-1, 9-3 (33m)

 

Men's 2nd qualifying round:

Ong Beng Hee (MAS) bt Simon Parke (ENG)                                        11-7, 11-7, 11-8 (46m)

Davide Bianchetti (ITA) bt Aamir Atlas Khan (PAK)                               11-6, 11-7, 6-11, 10-11 (0-2), 11-4 (77m)

Mohammed Abbas (EGY) bt Joseph Kneipp (AUS)                             11-6, 11-7, 11-5 (26m)

Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) bt Alister Walker (ENG)                           11-5, 7-11, 11-9, 11-10 (2-0) (69m)

Peter Barker (ENG) bt Mansoor Zaman (PAK)                                      11-9, 11-7, 11-4 (35m)

Adrian Grant (ENG) bt Joey Barrington (ENG)                                       11-10 (2-0), 11-5, 8-11, 11-8 (57m)

Alex Gough (WAL) bt Daryl Selby (ENG)                                                 11-1, 11-1 ret. (16m)

Stewart Boswell (AUS) bt Lee Drew (ENG)                                            11-5, 11-3, 11-7 (30m)

    Women's 2nd qualifying round:

Natalie Grainger (USA) bt Georgina Stoker (ENG)                               9-5, 9-3, 9-4 (26m)

Tegwen Malik (WAL) bt Laura Hill (ENG)                                                9-4, 9-6, 9-4 (40m)

Dominique Lloyd-Walter (ENG) bt Runa Reta (CAN)                           9-3, 9-3, 6-9, 7-9, 9-0 (84m)

Lauren Briggs (ENG) bt Soraya Renai (FRA)                                        9-3, 9-1, 9-2 (22m)

Manuela Manetta (ITA) bt Tricia Chuah (MAS)                                       9-6, 4-9, 9-7, 10-8 (75m)

Isabelle Stoehr (FRA) bt Jenna Gates (ENG)                                        9-2, 9-0, 9-3 (27m)

Rebecca Botwright (ENG) bt Line Hansen (DEN)                                9-2, 9-2, 9-5 (34m)

Annelize Naude (NED) bt Sarah Kippax (ENG)                                     9-1, 9-2, 8-10, 9-7 (54m)

 

Men's 1st qualifying round:

Ong Beng Hee (MAS) bt Shawn Delierre (CAN)                                    11-8, 11-4, 11-4 (25m)

Simon Parke (ENG) bt Scott Handley (ENG)                                         11-5, 11-7, 11-5 (40m)

Aamir Atlas Khan (PAK) bt Wael El Hindi (EGY)                                    7-11, 8-11, 11-10 (3-1), 11-10 (2-0), 11-7 (77m)

Davide Bianchetti (ITA) bt Tom Pashley (ENG)                                     11-8, 11-4, 11-3 (33m)

Mohammed Abbas (EGY) bt Laurence Delasaux (ENG)                    11-3, 11-3, 11-6 (19m)

Joseph Kneipp (AUS) bt Andrew Whipp (ENG)                                     11-6, 11-9, 10-11 (0-2), 11-7 (48m)

Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) bt Jethro Binns (WAL)                             11-4, 11-5, 11-3 (26m)

Alister Walker (ENG) bt Jonathan Harford (GBR)                                 11-2, 4-11, 11-3, 11-1 (40m)

Mansoor Zaman (PAK) bt Joe Lee (ENG)                                              11-2, 11-2, 11-4 (21m)

Peter Barker (ENG) bt Tom Richards (ENG)                                         11-6, 11-7, 11-6 (37m)

Joey Barrington (ENG) bt Jesse Engelbrecht (ZIM)                              11-8, 11-9, 11-7 (38m)

Adrian Grant (ENG) bt Shaun le Roux (ENG)                                         11-4, 11-2, 11-5 (32m)

Daryl Selby (ENG) bt Stacey Ross (ENG)                                               2-0 ret.

Alex Gough (WAL) bt Bradley Ball (ENG)                                                11-6, 11-5, 11-10 (3-1) (40m)

Lee Drew (ENG) bt Shahid Zaman (PAK)                                              11-2, 8-11, 11-10 (3-1), 11-9 (36m)

Stewart Boswell (AUS) bt Alex Stait (ENG)                                             11-7, 11-7, 5-11, 11-3 (48m)

   Women's 1st qualifying round:

Natalie Grainger (USA) bt Aisling Blake (IRL)                                       9-2, 9-10, 9-6, 9-6 (46m)

Georgina Stoker (ENG) bt Laura Mylotte (IRL)                                       7-9, 9-7, 9-6, 10-9 (69m)

Tegwen Malik (WAL) bt Celia Allamargot (FRA)                                    9-0, 9-1, 9-3 (20m)

Laura Hill (ENG) bt Suzie Pierrepont (ENG)                                          9-3, 10-9, 9-4 (40m)

Dominique Lloyd-Walter (ENG) bt Kirsty McPhee (ENG)                    9-3, 9-2, 9-1 (31m)

Runa Reta (CAN) bt Susannah King (ENG)                                          9-4, 9-4, 9-6 (31m)

Lauren Briggs (ENG) bt Emma Beddoes (GBR)                                  9-2, 9-1, 9-2 (23m)

Soraya Renai (FRA) bt Camille Serme (FRA)                                        9-4, 9-7, 9-5 (33m)

Manuela Manetta (ITA) bt Adel Weir (RSA)                                             9-1, 9-4, 9-6 (34m)

Tricia Chuah (MAS) bt Daniela Schumann (GER)                                9-5, 9-2, 9-3 (34m)

Jenna Gates (ENG) bt Jenny Wright (WAL)                                            9-6, 9-7, 9-2 (36m)

Isabelle Stoehr (FRA) bt Amnah El Trabolsy (EGY)                              9-1, 9-2, 9-5 (23m)

Line Hansen (DEN) bt Leonie Holt (ENG)                                             9-3, 5-9, 10-9, 9-4 (51m)

Rebecca Botwright (ENG) bt Harriet Ingham (ENG)                            9-0, 9-0, 9-0 (11m)

Sarah Kippax (ENG) bt Milja Dorenbos (NED)                                      9-2, 9-3, 9-2 (26m)

Annelize Naude (NED) bt Lauren Siddall (GBR)                                   9-2, 9-3, 9-5 (36m)

 

Dunlop British Open 2006
Women's Draw  
Round One
15-Sep
Quarters
16-Sep
Semis
17-Sep
Final
18-Sep
[1] Nicol David (Mas)
9-6, 9-1, 9-5 (44m)
Shelley Kitchen (Nzl)         
Nicol David
9-4, 9-0, 9-0
Vicky Botwright

Nicol David
9-3, 9-3, 9-5
Natalie Grinham
Nicol David
9-4, 9-1, 9-4 (41m)
Rachael Grinham
[5] Vicky Botwright (Eng)
9-6, 9-2, 9-3 (35m)
[Q] Lauren Briggs (Eng)      19.00
[4] Natalie Grinham (Aus)
9-1l 9-1, 9-5 (39m)
[Q] Isabelle Stoehr (Fra)    18.00
Natalie Grinham
9-4, 9-7, 7-9, 9-1 (60m)
Tania Bailey
[7] Tania Bailey (Eng)
9-1, 9-0, 9-4 (26m)
[Q] Annelize Naude (Ned)   17.00
[Q] Natalie Grainger (US) 
9-3, 9-5, 9-0 (31m)
[6] Jenny Duncalf (Eng)
Natalie Grainger
9-2, 9-1, 9-1 (26m)
Rachael Grinham
Rachael Grinham
9-7, 9-0, 9-2
Engy Kheirallah
Laura Lengthorn (Eng)
5-9, 9-2, 4-9, 10-9, 9-4 (83m)
[3] Rachael Grinham (Aus)
Engy Kheirallah (Egy)        
8-10, 9-4, 7-9, 9-5, 9-4 (83m)
[8] Madeline Perry (Irl)
Engy Kheirallah
8-10, 9-7, 9-2,
3-9, 9-6
Alison Waters
Alison Waters (Eng)          
8-10, 9-6, 9-1, 4-9, 9-7 (71m)
[2] Vanessa Atkinson (Ned)

Women's Qualifying:

Natalie Grainger (USA) v Tegwen Malik (WAL)

Dominique Lloyd-Walter (ENG) v Lauren Briggs (ENG)

Isabelle Stoehr (FRA) v Manuela Manetta (ITA)

Annelize Naude (NED) v Rebecca Botwright (ENG)

 

QUARTER-FINALS

GIANT-KILLER WHITE OUT

John White, the giant-killer who put out the top seed Amr Shabana in the first round failed to convert a two game lead in the quarter-finals when his old enemies ¬¬– unforced errors, wavering concentration and a fading physical performance saw the opportunity of a semi-final place and another chance at a major title slip away from him.



White’s high risk strategy paid off in the first two games – there were errors aplenty but also glorious winners and his opponent Karim Darwish could not live with him for a game and a half. White took the first 11-6 and saw out the second 11-9 but then his intensity slackened as Darwish came onto his game.

White got to 8-all in the third, but lost it 11-8. Disappointed he fell away in the fourth as Darwish established a 10-2 lead but the Egyptian did not see it out as his opponent came back to 8-10. White dominated the rally forcing Darwish to retrieve desperately and then gamble with a nick from nowhere, achieve an outright winner and level the game scores. White’s tried challenge faded in the fifth.

Darwish won 6-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-4.

David Palmer, the second seed, who has moved into the favourites position following John White's distruction of Amr Shabana, had to come back in both the first two games to dispatch Ong Beng Hee but he did so to win 11-9, 12-10, 11-6 and that win puts him in a strong position here.

I had a slow start but I was enjoying it. I felt sharp but was happy to get off 3/0.

All the hard work I put in over the winter back in Australia has played off. He was tired at the end of the second and third but the fact that he beat Anthony Ricketts was in the back of my mind.

Palmer may be fresh but Lincou will not be. He had to come back from 2/1 down against his compatriot Gregory Gaultier in a distracting and concentration sapping performance but did so. Gaultier played well stinging in low kills unexpectedly and sudden drops. Only at the end of the fifth, a game that levelled at 4-all did Lincou look assured of victory winning 11-1, 5-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6 in 80 minutes.

I'm relieved, he said. I had to try to fight and stay in the game, I was chasing the score and in the end my experience paid off.

Matthew was through comfortably. His opponent James Willstrop had not recovered fully from the gastro interitus he suffered in Cairo and withdrew after the second game.

 

Willstrop Wilts As Matthew Marches Into Dunlop British Open Semi-Finals

The battle between England team-mates James Willstrop and Nick Matthew in today's (Saturday) quarter-finals of the Dunlop British Open Squash Championships at the University of Nottingham proved to be a match too far for England number one Willstrop, who retired after two games when it was clear that he was still suffering from the effects of the illness which prevented him from competing in the World Open in Egypt earlier this month.

Struck down by a severe bout of food-poisoning, the 23-year-old world No4 from Pontefract was hospitalised in Cairo and ultimately laid low for ten days.

But, in the Yorkshire pair's tenth tour meeting in five years, Willstrop admitted that he just couldn't cope with "one of the best players in the world at the moment", and conceded the match at 11-7 11-5.

"I've been feeling fine generally, but it's the first time I've had to push myself against somebody of Nick's calibre," said a tired-looking Willstrop afterwards.

"I felt weirdly tired during some points of the match, which just wasn't right. There was no way I was going to win it," explained the fourth seed.

It was coach Malcolm Willstrop, his father, who advised James not to go on. "He's so good at things like that," said the younger Willstrop.

"I'm absolutely devastated – this event's really buzzing and it's awful to be missing out. Events with an atmosphere like this don't come along too often."

Matthew will face Karim Darwish for a place in the final after the eighth-seeded Egyptian came back from 2/0 down to beat local hope John White, the former world No1 who was based at the University for nearly five years.

Darwish's victory immediately followed a surprise win by his fiancée Engy Kheirallah over England's Alison Waters, ranked five places higher in the world.

"Usually, if I win, she loses, or the other way round, so it's one of the happiest days of my life that we have both won – especially in a British Open, which has such great importance in our country," said Darwish after his 6-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-4 victory over White in 57 minutes.

On the match, the 25-year-old from Cairo added: "I just couldn't live with the pace of the match for the first game and a half – he played so well – but then I was able to slow down the pace."

A despondent White rued the missed opportunity of not capitalising on his sensational first round win over another Egyptian, the world number and top seed Amr Shabana. "I shouldn't have let him get back in the third game.

"But overall I am playing better that I have for a long time – so at least I can take that away with me," added White as he made plans to head back to his new home in Philadelphia, USA.

Engy Kheirallah's earlier 8-10, 9-7, 9-2, 3-9, 9-6 triumph in 74 minutes over Waters makes her the first Egyptian woman to reach a British Open semi-final.

"I don't think I've ever played that well in my life," said the ecstatic 24-year-old from Alexandria. "Doing well in the British Open is something you dream about."

Kheirallah will now face Australia's Egypt-based third seed Rachael Grinham in the semi-finals. In a battle between two former world number ones, the two-times British Open champion crushed USA qualifier Natalie Grainger 9-2, 9-1, 9-1 in 26 minutes.

Younger sister Natalie Grinham later set up the possibility of an all-Grinham final when she booked herself a place in the semi-final in the top half of the draw, by beating England's seventh seed Tania Bailey 9-4, 9-7, 7-9, 9-1. Bailey, from nearby Lincolnshire, was a finalist four years ago – but was unable to prevent Commonwealth Games gold medallist Grinham from beating her in the event for the second time in a row.

Australia's David Palmer continued his relentless charge towards a fourth British Open crown with a hard-fought 11-9, 11-10 (2-0), 11-6 win over Malaysian qualifier Ong Beng Hee in 51 minutes.

The second seed is in buoyant form after winning the World Open title for a second time earlier in the month – and happy to have gained revenge for his loss to the world No14 from Kuala Lumpur last year.

"It was nice to give him a pay back," said the 30-year-old from New South Wales.

When asked about his success in Egypt, Palmer said: "I was happy to win the Worlds, but it would be good to do the British again as well.

"These are the two titles you're remembered by."

Palmer will face Thierry Lincou after the third seed maintained his 100% PSA Tour record against his French compatriot Gregory Gaultier. The former world number one from Marseille raced to a first game lead for the loss of just a single point, but Gaultier – runner-up in this year's World Open – recovered to forge a two-games-to-one lead.

"I'm relieved – I was chasing the score for most of the time, just trying to stay in the game," admitted the 30-year-old former world number one after his 11-1, 5-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-6 victory in 80 minutes.
 

 

________________________________________________________

ROUND ONE

Shabana Crashes Out

Former world number one John White marked his homecoming to Nottingham in perfect style in today's (Friday) first round match in the Dunlop British Open Squash Championships when he fought back from 2/1 down to beat Egypt's reigning world number one Amr Shabana, the event favourite, at the University Sports Centre.

The unseeded Scot, who was based at the University for almost five years until moving to the USA last year, won the first game on the all-glass court - and had a game-ball in the second to go 2/0 up.

But Shabana's racket wizardry took the top-seeded Egyptian on to a two-games-to-one lead, then two points away from victory in the fourth game.

White dug deep, however, to win the game after a tie-break - then thrilled the packed partisan crowd in the decider to claim a stunning 11-7, 10-11 (3-5), 9-11, 11-10 (2-0), 11-5 victory in 75 minutes.

"I had a game-plan and stuck to it – which I haven't done for a long time," said the delighted 33-year-old after his dramatic upset. "That's the best I've played for a long time – and it's good to do it here at the University.

"I had to try and keep Amr away from the front of the court – he's just too good, his rackets skills are one of the best out there."

White's final preparation for the match was a workout with the University's Director of Sport Vaughan Williams. "It was just like old times, back in the old training room we used to use – it brought all the memories flooding back.

"And just before the fifth game, Vaughan came up to me and said 'you can do it – give it 100%, do it for me' – and that was really inspiring," added White, who now plays another Egyptian, eight seed Karim Darwish, for a place in the semi-finals.

Showing little sign of the illness which prevented him from playing in the World Open in Egypt earlier in the month, James Willstrop successfully led the English assault on the British Open title with an 11-4, 11-10 (2-0), 8-11, 11-8 victory over Malaysia's Mohd Azlan Iskandar in 51 minutes.

"It was a hard battle with Azlan – as I expected it to be – and I'm very happy to have beaten him 3/1," said the fourth seed who was hospitalised in Cairo after contracting food poisoning. "To be able to play like that after ten days of inactivity is better than I could have hoped for.

"But I'm just trying to put that out of my mind, hoping that the reserves I built up over the hard summer of training will carry me through," added the England number one from Pontefract in Yorkshire.

"One thing you learn about having time off is how much you love playing squash."

Willstrop was full of praise for the 2006 staging of the historic event with roots back to the early 1920s. "It’s the best presentation of the British Open I've ever seen, here at the University," said Willstrop. "We're used to seeing squash staged in some pretty spectacular venues around the world, but some places just naturally create a great atmosphere – like here.

"You can't beat the British Open in terms of prestige – I'm desperate to do well," added the 23-year-old

National interest in the semi-finals is guaranteed as Willstrop faces England team-mate Nick Matthew in Saturday's quarter-finals. The sixth seed from Sheffield beat Australian qualifier Stewart Boswell 11-7, 11-4, 11-7.

"It won't have been easy for him, playing the last match of the qualifiers last night on one of the back courts – especially a five-setter – then coming on here first thing in the morning on the glass court. All the factors were against him," said Matthew.

Another notable Australian casualty followed when title-holder Anthony Ricketts fell to Ong Beng Hee. The Malaysian qualifier saved game balls in the first two games before going on to record a notable 11-10 (2-0), 11-10 (2-0), 11-8 win over the fifth seed from Sydney who won the event for the first time last year.

There were a host of upsets in the women's event, led by the opening match of the day when USA qualifier Natalie Grainger beat England's sixth seed Jenny Duncalf 9-3, 9-5, 9-0. "I'm just happy to be on court playing again and having some fun out there," said Grainger, in her first tournament for almost six months.

English hopes were restored later when Londoner Alison Waters claimed the biggest upset in the women's event by beating second seed Vanessa Atkinson 8-10, 9-6, 9-1, 4-9, 9-7 in 71 minutes. It was Waters' second British Open upset in a row over the former world number one from the Netherlands, following the 22-year-old's straight games win in the first round of the 2005 event.

Waters will meet fellow non-seed Engy Kheirallah after the 24-year-old Egyptian upset Ireland's eighth seed Madeline Perry 8-10, 9-4, 7-9, 9-5, 9-4 in 75 minutes. It was Perry's fifth successive first round defeat in the British Open.

"I can't believe it - I've never won a match in the British Open," conceded the 29-year-old from Ulster. "It's not because it's the British Open, but the fact that it always takes place at the beginning of the season."

A major upset was averted when Australia's two-times champion Rachael Grinham, the third seed, saved a matchball against Laura-Jane Lengthorn to beat the unseeded 22-year-old from Preston 5-9, 9-2, 4-9, 10-9, 9-4 in 83 minutes.

"I was gutted afterwards," said Lengthorn, ranked 11 in the world. "I've never played a match like that before, with so much intensity."


 

QUALIFYING FINALS

Barker Survives
Marathon Open Qualifier

 

Peter Barker vindicated his England team selection over Adrian Grant in this year's European Championships when he beat his fellow left-hander in a 96-minute marathon in today's (Thursday) qualifying finals of the Dunlop British Open Squash Championships at the University of Nottingham.

 

Barker, the world No26 from Upminster in Essex , took the opening two games – but Londoner Grant, ranked nine places higher, stormed back to draw level for the loss of only four further points. 

 

Barker regained the initiative, however, and clinched his first ever win over Grant 11-6, 11-10 (3-1), 2-11, 2-11, 11-7 in the longest clash in the event so far.

 

"That was a bit of a pressure match," conceded Barker.  "He seemed a bit more tense than I was."

 

When asked how he rated the win, 22-year-old said:  "That certainly ranks up with the best of them.  He's in the top 16 after all, and it's nice that he hasn't become a bogey player for me.

 

"But, to be honest, the significance of beating him for the first time ever hasn't really sunk in yet," added Barker, who now meets Egypt 's No8 seed Karim Darwish in the first round on Friday.

 

Welshman Alex Gough came near to pulling off an upset over Stewart Boswell, the world No13 from Australia .  After Boswell took the opening two games, the former Nottingham stalwart fought back to level the match.  Boswell took command of the encounter in the fifth game and clinched an 11-7, 11-5, 10-11 (0-2), 4-11, 11-4 victory in 76 minutes.

 

Showing few signs of the effect of her 84-minute marathon encounter 24 hours earlier, Harrow's Dominique Lloyd-Walter took the opening game in her women's qualifying final against fellow Englishwoman Lauren Briggs

 

But the world No25 from Chingford in London bounced back to beat Lloyd-Walter 8-10, 9-6, 9-2, 9-2 in 75 minutes to earn herself a place in the main draw against compatriot Vicky Botwright, the fifth seed from Manchester. 

 

There were Manchester links in the easiest victory in the women's event when USA 's Natalie Grainger, the Manchester-born former world No1, claimed a place in the main draw after Welsh champion Tegwen Malik conceded the match as the result of a sore Achilles tendon.

 

Grainger, the 29-year-old world No13 from Washington DC , has suffered mixed fortunes since topping the world rankings in June 2003. 

 

"But I am really enjoying my squash now and feeling on top form," said Grainger, on the eve of her first WISPA World Tour event since April.

 

"All I can say now is, bring on my first round opponent – I'm ready for whoever it is!"

 

Grainger, runner-up in the event two years ago in Nottingham, has been drawn to face England's sixth seed Jenny Duncalf, from Harrogate in Yorkshire, in the first round.

 

Barker & Grant Qualifying Bid

 

Adrian Grant and Peter Barker, the only two Englishmen to survive the second qualifying round of the Dunlop British Open Squash Championships, meet each other in today's (Thursday) qualifying finals for a place in the main draw of the blue riband event which is being staged at the University of Nottingham for the first time.

 

Barker, the world No26 from Upminster in Essex, despatched fellow left-hander Mansoor Zaman, of Pakistan, 11-9, 11-7, 11-4 in 35 minutes, while Londoner Grant, the world No17 now based in Halifax, Yorkshire, defeated compatriot Joey Barrington, from Somerset, 11-10 (2-0), 11-5, 8-11, 11-8 in 57 minutes.

 

Long-time local Nottingham hero Simon Parke failed in his bid to earn a 14th appearance in the sport's most prestigious event.  The 34-year-old Yorkshireman from Leeds – a former world No3 – battled for 46 minutes against Ong Beng Hee before bowing out 11-7, 11-7, 11-8 to the world No14 from Malaysia .

 

Welshman Alex Gough, also a former Nottingham stalwart, is now one place away from a tenth appearance in the PSA Tour event in which he has made the quarter-finals on three occasions.  The 35-year-old from Fleet in Hampshire dropped just two points against Daryl Selby before the 23-year-old from Essex was forced to retire with injury with the score at 11-1, 11-1.

 

Gough now faces Australian international Stewart Boswell, who beat England 's Lee Drew, from Colchester , 11-5, 11-3, 11-7.

 

Domestic interest is being led by three English players in the women's qualifying event.  Essex's Lauren Briggs claimed the swiftest second round win of the day, while Harrow 's Dominique Lloyd-Walter survived the longest – and the pair now meet each other for a place in the main draw. 

 

Briggs, the world No25 from Chingford in London , crushed France 's Soraya Renai 9-3, 9-1, 9-2 in just 22 minutes.

 

In what turned out to be the longest ever match in her career on the WISPA World Tour, Lloyd-Walter battled to a 9-3, 9-3, 6-9, 7-9, 9-0 win over Canada 's Runa Reta in an 84-minute marathon. 

 

Rebecca Botwright is one match away from the chance of joining her illustrious sister Vicky Botwright in the main draw of the Dunlop-sponsored championship.  The 24-year-old from Manchester beat Denmark 's Line Hansen 9-2, 9-2, 9-5 and now takes on world No17 Annelize Naude after the Netherlands player overcame England 's Sarah Kippax, from Cheshire , 9-1, 9-2, 8-10, 9-7 in 54 minutes.

 

Interestingly, the winner of this qualifying final match could face Botwright senior, the world No5, in Friday's first round.

 

World Champion Palmer
 In Rare Double Bid

 

Australia's David Palmer arrives in Nottingham this week for the Dunlop British Open Squash Championships with a double in his sights.

 

The 30-year-old from Lithgow in New South Wales won the World Open crown earlier this month, and now aims to be the first man since 1996 to also win the British Open title in the same year.  Palmer would be only the fourth player in squash history to achieve this, after compatriot Geoff Hunt and legendary Pakistanis Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan.

 

Staged at the University of Nottingham for the first time, the historic British Open – with roots back to the early 1920s and including world-class men's, women's and masters events – gets underway on Friday (15 September) leading to finals next Monday (18 September).  The prestigious event will feature the first all-glass court ever to be seen at the University.

 

Palmer, a three-times winner of the British Open crown (in 2001, 2003 and 2004 – the second two also in Nottingham), survived the most dramatic final in the history of the World Open, coming back from two games down, and saving five match balls, to beat young Frenchman Gregory Gaultier in one of the longest finals on record.

 

"I always seem to struggle in finals, and didn't play that well in the final – but thought I played exceptionally well in my earlier matches against Anthony Ricketts and Thierry Lincou," explained the two-times world champion on the eve of the British Open.

 

"I feel I played well on the big points.  I wasn't going to hand it over – it's not over till the last point's won!  It's not about playing good squash, but winning the points – and I guess that's what champions are made of.

 

"I'm very proud of my performance, considering that I took three months off, and only had 10 days working with my coach Shaun Moxham.  Normally it takes a few tournaments to work your way back into it," explained the world number two, the second seed in Nottingham.

 

Palmer enjoyed a life-changing experience in June with the birth of his first child, daughter Kayla, at home in Australia.

 

"She's had a huge impact on my life – for the past ten years squash has been my whole life.  People say I'm more relaxed, and perhaps I am," suggested Palmer.

 

While many of his fellow players were probably admiring the Pyramids during the World Open in Giza, Palmer could be found staring at the computer screen in his room, hooked up to a webcam focussed on his baby daughter on the other side of the world.

 

"I hate being away from her – but today's technology helps.  I can see her every day, wherever I am, just by switching on my laptop and looking at her on the webcam.  It really relaxes me and takes the pressure off," explained the squash star.

 

Palmer's wife Mel and Kayla will be in Nottingham during the British Open:  "Having Kayla with me will be a huge advantage – it'll be the first time she's been to an event.  Being able to go back and relax with her after my matches will be fantastic."

 

Palmer begins his bid to win a third British Open title in the East Midlands city with a first round match against England's 19-year-old Chris Simpson, the British Junior champion from Guernsey who has been given a wild card into the event.

 

"I guess I should consider myself lucky, facing the wildcard player in the first round.  It'll be a big match for him, no doubt - but I won't underestimate him," said the Australian who celebrated his 40th PSA Tour final appearance in Egypt.

 

"But I've got a tough draw – I think the bottom half of the draw is much stronger than the top, with players like Anthony Ricketts, Thierry Lincou, Lee Beachill and Gregory Gaultier. 

 

"I've got a few days to freshen up before the British Open, and I'm really looking forward to going for the double – which hasn't been done since the Jansher/Jahangir days.  It would definitely be good to get close to the Khans!

 

"I feel confident – and winning the Worlds takes the pressure off me – I've got nothing to lose.  If I won a fourth title, it would really put me amongst an elite group of former champions – and that would be excellent.

 

"I've won it a few times before – but most of the other guys haven't.  I just hope I can reproduce the form I had in Egypt," concluded Palmer.

 

Parke Overcomes First Hurdle

 

Simon Parke, formerly based in Nottingham for almost two decades, made a successful return to the city when he beat Oxfordshire's Scott Handley 11-5, 11-7, 11-5 in the first qualifying round of the Dunlop British Open Squash Championships, being staged at the University of Nottingham for the first time.

 

The 34-year-old Yorkshireman from Leeds – a former world No3 - will now take on Malaysia's Ong Beng Hee in his bid to make a 14th appearance in the sport's most prestigious event, which has roots back to the early 1920s. 

 

Beng Hee, who stopped Parke in last year's first round, brushed aside Canada 's Shawn Delierre 11-8, 11-4, 11-4.

 

Six other Englishmen will compete in today's (Wednesday) second qualifying round matches – including Alister Walker, the Leeds-based 23-year-old from Gloucestershire; Peter Barker, the world No26 from Upminster in Essex; Joey Barrington, son of six-times British Open champion Jonah Barrington, from Glastonbury in Somerset; Londoner Adrian Grant, the world No17 based in Halifax in Yorkshire; Daryl Selby, 23, from Witham in Essex; and Cornwall-born Lee Drew, from Colchester. 

 

Drew, ranked 75 in the world, pulled off one of the notable upsets of the first qualifying round when he beat Pakistan's Shahid Zaman, the world No27 from Quetta, 11-2, 8-11, 11-10 (3-1), 11-9.

 

Derbyshire fire-fighter Laura Hill recorded an outstanding upset in the women's event when she beat English compatriot Suzie Pierrepont – ranked more than 100 places higher in the world - 9-3, 10-9, 9-4 to earn a surprise place in the second round.  The 30-year-old part-time player from Duffield will now take on Welsh No1 Tegwen Malik who beat France 's Celia Allamargot 9-0, 9-1, 9-3.

 

The longest women's battle saw Merseyside's Georgina Stoker overcome Ireland 's Stockport-based Laura Mylotte 7-9, 9-7, 9-6, 10-9 in 69 minutes.  The reward for the 20-year-old world No51 is a clash with the qualifying event's top seed Natalie Grainger, the former world No1 from the USA who also beat an Irish opponent Aisling Blake 9-2, 9-10, 9-6, 9-6.

 

Stoker and Hill are joined by five other English women in the next round, including Dominique Lloyd-Walter from Harrow in Middlesex; Lauren Briggs from Chingford in London; Jenna Gates from Brighton; Rebecca Botwright from Manchester; and Sarah Kippax from Cheshire.

 

The 2006 Dunlop British Open - featuring world-class men's, women's and masters events – gets underway with main draw first round action on Friday, leading to finals on Monday (18 September).

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


White Relishes Home-Coming

 

John White, the hard-hitting Scottish number one squash player who lived in Nottingham for five years until last year, returns to his training base at the University this week for the first time since moving to the USA to compete in the Dunlop British Open Squash Championships, which get underway on Friday (15 September).

 

Staged at the University of Nottingham for the first time, the historic British Open – with roots back to the early 1920s and including world-class men's, women's and masters events – will feature the first all-glass court ever to be seen at the University, leading to finals next Monday (18 September).

 

Whilst Nottingham has long been a magnet for the world's leading squash players, most are attracted to the thriving Nottingham Squash Club, which now has the England Squash Gold Charter.

 

But White, now based in Philadelphia with his wife and four young children, moved to Nottingham to work with the University's Director of Sport and Physical Recreation Vaughan Williams.  A highly successful partnership ensued which led White to the top of the world rankings in March 2004, following two major PSA Tour title victories the previous year (English Open and PSA Masters) and success in the British National Championships the previous month.

 

"It's going to be great to be in Nottingham again - back at my old training ground – I'm really looking forward to it," said White, on his return to the UK after competing in the World Open in Egypt.

 

"I've kept in touch with Vaughan since I've been in the States, and when he told me there was a chance of the British Open coming to the University, I assured him that, if so, mine would be the first entry!

 

"When we first met, we'd talked about hosting a major squash event at the University.  So, to get the British Open - one of the most prestigious tournaments on the international circuit – is fantastic and I'm really excited about it for Vaughan. 

 

"It'll be a great venue, the courts are excellent - and Vaughan and his team will really do a good job."

 

White will be joined by wife Susie on his return to the East Midlands city:  "We're looking forward to catching up with a lot of our old friends," said the 30-year-old, currently ranked 11 in the world.

 

"But as soon as I arrive in Nottingham, I've arranged to meet up with Vaughan to have a 'refresher' training session with him."

 

White, unseeded in the 5-star PSA Tour event, faces top seed Amr Shabana, the world No1 from Egypt, in the first round on Friday afternoon.

 

"Last time we met, he took me out in four games in the PSA Masters in Bermuda in April - but that was just after the Commonwealth Games, and I'd gone straight on to New Zealand for an exhibition series."

 

In fact, White boasts a 3/2 lead over Shabana in their head-to-head tally on the PSA Tour.  "I beat him in three in Chicago last year, in the final of the Windy City Open.  We've both got an attacking game – I like playing him," explained White, who holds the world record for hitting a squash ball – at 172 mph!

 

But White acknowledges that one aspect of the move to the USA is not ideal for his squash:  "The move to the states has been great for the family, and training is not a problem – but what you lack is match fitness, as you haven't got the same opportunity to hit with fellow world top 20 players like you have here in Europe."

 

He reached the second round of the World Open earlier this month after beating rising Dutch star Laurens Jan Anjema 11-6, 11-6, 7-11, 8-11, 11-8 in 68 minutes.

 

"I thought I played extremely well against Anjema in the World Open – it was as if the old John White came out that day!

 

"Then, after the World Open, I went to Dubai to play a series of exhibition matches with Peter Nicol for our racket brand Prince – and that provided a good workout and helped me sharpen up my game."

 

This will be White's ninth appearance in a British Open – and his third in Nottingham, after disappointing performances in the previous two in 2003 and 2004 at the Albert Hall.

 

"Being at the University is really going to inspire me, I'm sure.  I just can't wait to get my matches underway."

 

 

   

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