01-06 November 2004 Nottingham, England
 


  

  British Open Squash  1998  
 

 

 
 

BRITISH OPEN 1998

 
 

The 1998 Event was held at
Birmingham's National Indoor Arena ...

NICOL ACHIEVES HISTORIC 
BRITISH OPEN SQUASH VICTORY

 

A capacity crowd in the 2,300 seater National Indoor Arena (NIA) in Birmingham witnessed a thrilling conclusion to the 1998 British Open Squash Championships, presented by the Mike Corby Group in association with Hi-Tec Sports and Ikon Office Solutions. On his 25th birthday, Scotland's world No1 Peter Nicol beat Pakistan's defending champion Jansher Khan 17/16 15/5 15/4 in 57 minutes to become the first Briton to win the world's most prestigious squash title for a quarter of a century.

 In the women's final, Australia's Michelle Martin was in formidable form as she decisively defeated compatriot and favourite Sarah Fitz-Gerald, the world No1 and world champion, 9/4 9/2 9/1 in 30 minutes to claim the title for the sixth successive year.

"It was the best birthday present I could ever have hoped for," said Aberdeenshire's Inverurie hero Nicol as he put his hands on the trophy for the first time and collected his 7,420 winner's cheque. His father Pat was court-side as Peter dedicated the victory to his mother Sigrid, who died six years ago before he took up squash full-time. It was in January 1973 - three months before Nicol was born - that the prestigious title was last in British hands, those of the sport's legendary Jonah Barrington who was ending his six-title run.

The NIA success was a magnificent conclusion to a highly-significant twelve months for the London-based Scot, which began in the 1997 final when he extended Jansher in his tenth year of domination in the sport. After five games and 126 minutes - making it one of the longest British Open finals on record - the Pakistani secured his sixth title in a row, but acknowledged that the win had been his toughest. Since then, three major tournament wins over his famous adversary enabled Nicol to overtake Khan in the world rankings, becoming Britain's first ever world No1 on 1st February this year. The new British Open champion will undoubtedly return to a hero's welcome this Thursday (9 April) when he arrives in Scotland to open the first 'Peter Nicol Squash & Fitness Centre' in Westhill near Aberdeen.

Nicol achieved his anticipated place in the 98 British Open final without conceding a game, and provided maximum entertainment for the impressive Birmingham crowds throughout the week: A 15/12 15/7 15/9 victory over fellow left-hander and England captain Chris Walker in his opening NIA match led to a quarter-final meeting with British champion Simon Parke - who late the previous night had starred in the most talked-about match of the tournament when he came back from 2-0 down to beat Mark Chaloner, Nicol's surprise conqueror in February's National Championships, 13/15 8/15 15/12 15/7 15/11 in a 110-minute repeat of the Nationals' final. Parke showed no signs of these earlier demands as he extended the top seed in the exhilarating opening two games of their last eight encounter. By the third, however, the Yorkshireman was spent, and Nicol claimed a 15/13 15/13 15/6 victory which brought him into a semi-final against Rodney Eyles, the Australian who beat him to take the World Open title last November. Nicol stifled the Aussie onslaught 15/9 15/13 15/11 in just 49 minutes to gain his revenge and a return fixture against the defending champion in the final.

Birmingham's National Indoor ArenaNumerous players played starring roles in this year's hugely-successful British Open debut at Birmingham's National Indoor Arena, the UK's principal purpose-built indoor sports arena which is situated in the heart of the country. Australia's Adelaide-based No10 seed Dan Jenson had to overcome a two-game deficit to beat Canada's Graham Ryding, the earlier conqueror of Egypt's No5 seed Ahmed Barada, and set up a quarter-final clash with qualifier David Evans, the Welshman who ended the run of No3 seed Jonathon Power after the Canadian withdrew at two games up when he aggravated an ankle injury sustained in February. Jenson needed four games to defeat Evans, earning him a place in the last four in only his third British Open appearance. It took Khan 68 minutes to overcome the 22-year-old Australian in four games to reach his ninth Open final.

Fellow Australian John White, from Mount Isa in Queensland, became a rare British Open qualifier to reach the last eight when he survived a five game encounter with compatriot Joseph Kneipp, an Open qualifier for the second successive year, to reach an all-Queensland quarter-final against Rodney Eyles - the first two games of which went to the wire before the world champion triumphed 17/16 17/16 15/12. Another unseeded quarter-finalist was Paul Johnson - the 25-year-old England No3 from Kent who on 1st April moved up to a career high No11 in the Dunlop PSA world rankings, and then demonstrated the validity of his new status by defeating Australia's No8 seed Anthony Hill 15/12 9/15 15/10 15/6 in the second round - before losing in straight games to Khan.

The women's event was dominated by favourite Sarah Fitz-Gerald's third successive final defeat by compatriot Michelle Martin - at 3-0, the No2 seed's most decisive of them all. "This win comes a close second to the feeling I got from the first," said the jubilant 30-year-old six-times champion from Sydney after the game. Fitz-Gerald, who had won seven of their eight encounters last year, was clearly anxious at the prospect of securing the only title which has hitherto eluded her. Both players were untroubled until the semi-finals - with Martin dropping her only games in the tournament when she had to fight back from 1-0 and 2-1 down to overcome Kent's Aylesbury-based British champion Sue Wright, the No3 seed, 1/9 9/4 7/9 9/2 9/4, and Fitz-Gerald losing a fast and furious first game to an inspired Cassie Jackman, the No4 seed from Norfolk, before taking the match 6/9 9/4 9/4 9/4.

 

  

 

 

 

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