English Grand Prix 2007

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Prince Willstrop Clinches English Grand Prix Crown

In a dream outcome for event sponsors Prince, new signing James Willstrop clinched the Prince English Grand Prix – Birmingham 2007 title in the Great Hall at the University of Birmingham - upsetting higher-seeded Thierry Lincou in a dramatic climax of the inaugural 5-star PSA Tour championship in the West Midlands city.


Just 24 hours after being hailed as the new global face of the racquet brand, fourth-seeded Englishman Willstrop secured an unexpected place in the English Grand Prix final after battling to a five-game victory in 95 minutes over world champion David Palmer, the top seed from Australia.


And at two games and 6-0 up over third seed Lincou in the final, it looked as if the 24-year-old Yorkshireman had the title in the bag.


But the wily Frenchman, who had also prevailed in a marathon five-game semi-final, had other ideas - and reclaimed the advantage to force the match into a fifth game decider.


However, Willstrop was not to be outdone:  The former world junior champion quickly raced to a 7-1 lead - and after 77 minutes secured his fairytale 11-8, 11-8, 9-11, 7-11, 11-3 triumph.


"It's a real honour to win this one, especially as it's my first Prince tournament, absolutely brilliant," Willstrop said.  "Thierry is a fantastic squash player - I've been watching him for so long, and he is the king for three things: one, king of starting slow, then, at getting better as the matches go on, and three, at coming back!


"And when I was 2/0 and 7/1 up, I treated it differently as I would have with anybody else, because I've seen him coming back from that position so many times.  But he was so accurate, I was scraping balls off the wall and I just couldn't do anything.  It's nothing fancy, nothing complicated, simple squash but so efficient.  I came through just by sticking at it, and giving it everything I had," added the new champion, after claiming the 7th PSA Tour title of his career.


A disappointed Lincou explained:  "I lacked patience in particular in the first two games.  I did train and work into a more offensive game, but I would say that I used it wrongly tonight, and that I didn't find the right tempo."


Both players will now be focussing their attention on the forthcoming Dunlop British Open, which takes place at the National Squash Centre in Manchester from 20-24 September.  Incredibly, Willstrop is scheduled to meet Palmer in the quarter-finals, with the winner likely to face Lincou in the following round!


Willstrop & Lincou To Contest Prince English Grand Prix Final

It took three hours of dramatic squash on an all-glass court in the spectacular setting of the Great Hall at the University of Birmingham to produce the two players - James Willstrop of England and Thierry Lincou of France - who will contest the final of the Prince English Grand Prix – Birmingham 2007.


Fourth seed Willstrop was the first through to the climax of the inaugural 5-star PSA Tour championship in the West Midlands city after beating Australian favourite David Palmer in a semi-final clash between the reigning British National champion and the World Open champion.


In his third successive encounter in the event with an Englishman, Palmer recovered from a game down to take a 2/1 lead - and looked in ominous form.  But Willstrop, the 24-year-old England number one from Leeds, immediately regained the upper hand to draw level after taking the fourth game for the loss of just two points.


It was nip and tuck in the decider until the Englishman moved to match ball at 10-9 - when, to add the already intense drama, Willstrop broke a string and had to enforce an untimely break as he left the court to replace the racquet. 


Shortly after his return, however - and to a huge roar of delight from the packed crowd - Willstrop finally clinched the point to earn an 11-9, 8-11, 6-11, 11-2, 11-9 victory in 95 minutes to claim his 10th appearance in a PSA Tour final.


"I got a brilliant start - but at 2/1 down, he was totally in control and I was on the ropes," admitted Willstrop.  "You have to believe you can come back against any opponent, so I just dug in and it came together.


"It's great for Prince reasons and great for me too," added the world No7, referring to his recent signing to title sponsor Prince.  "I just love competing in these events and I hate waking up on the final day knowing I'm not playing."


The other semi-final was an all-French affair between the country's two top players - Thierry Lincou, the third seed and nine times winner of the French national title, and Gregory Gaultier, the 24-year-old second seed from Aix-en-Provence who has now overtaken his compatriot in the world rankings.


It was another gruelling encounter in which the lead changed a number of times.  However, it was the experienced Lincou who ultimately prevailed, winning 3-11, 11-8, 11-9, 6-11, 11-5 in 87 minutes.


The triumph takes the 31-year-old from Marseille - who won three Tour titles in England last year - into the 33rd PSA Tour final of his career.

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James Willstrop celebrates his new Prince contract by winning the inaugural Prince English Grand Prix, beating Thierry Lincou 3-2 in the final

James Willstrop, Eng, beats world champion David Palmer, Aus, 3-2.

Thierry Lincou, comes through a hard five-setter against Lee Beachill.

David Palmer seeded No 1 for this years event

High hopes for Gregory Gaultier after his recent run to the final of the Super Series

English Grand Prix 2007
Men's Draw
First Round
6th Sep
Quarter Finals
7th Sep
Semi Finals
8th Sep
9th Sep
[1] David Palmer (Aus)
7-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-9 (98m)
[Q] Daryl Selby (Eng)
David Palmer
11-10 (5-3), 11-4, 11-8 (54m)
Nick Matthew
David Palmer
11-9, 8-11, 6-11, 11-2, 11-9 (95m)
James Willstrop
James Willstrop
11-8, 11-8, 9-11, 7-11, 11-3 (77m)
Thierry Lincou
[5] Nick Matthew (Eng)
11-7, 11-4, 11-1 (42m)
Cameron Pilley (Aus)
[4] James Willstrop (Eng)
11-10 (3-1), 11-8, 11-6 (48m)
[LL] Bradley Ball (Eng)
 James Willstrop
6-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-3 (56m)
Peter Barker
[8] Peter Barker (Eng)
11-6, 11-8, 11-8 (57m)
Alister Walker (Eng)
[Q] Jan Koukal (Cze)
8-11, 11-5, 7-0 ret. (23m)
[7] Lee Beachill (Eng)
 Lee Beachill
9-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-5, 11-8 (64m)
Thierry Lincou
Thierry Lincou
3-11, 11-8, 11-9, 6-11, 11-5 (87m)
Gregory Gaultier
Jonathan Harford (Eng)
11-4, 11-4, 11-6 (29m)
[3] Thierry Lincou (Fra)
[Q] Davide Bianchetti (Ita)
11-10 (2-0), 11-10 (2-0), 11-8 (82m)
Alex Gough (Wal)
Davide Bianchetti
11-8, 10-11 (2-4), 11-8, 11-7 (68m)
Gregory Gaultier
[Q] Tarek Momen (Egy)
11-5, 11-4 ret. (24m)
[2] Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
Qualifying Finals


Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Bradley Ball (ENG)                11-8, 11-4, 5-11, 10-11 (2-4), 11-9 (63m)

Jan Koukal (CZE) bt Alex Stait (ENG)                      4-11, 2-11, 11-10 (2-0), 11-1, 11-7 (53m)

Daryl Selby (ENG) bt Shaun le Roux (ENG)               11-9, 11-4, 11-3 (37m)

Davide Bianchetti (ITA) bt Chris Ryder (ENG)         11-6, 11-3, 11-3 (40m)




Willstrop Shoulders Home Hopes In Prince English Grand Prix

Defeats by his three England team-mates in the quarter-finals of the Prince English Grand Prix – Birmingham 2007 leaves home hopes in the inaugural 5-star PSA Tour squash championship at the University of Birmingham resting solely on the shoulders of England number one James Willstrop.


On the opening day of action on the all-glass court in the University's impressive Great Hall, the fourth-seeded Yorkshireman from Leeds recovered from a game down to beat compatriot and long-time rival Peter Barker 6-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-3 in 56 minutes.


"I was very loose tonight in the first game - I don't know why, but I never felt confident enough to play shots tonight," said 24-year-old Willstrop afterwards.


"You always have to give 100%.  I had a good record against Peter in the juniors and I want to keep that going - a bit like Lee's (Beachill) good record against me, you never want to lose in matches like that."


Willstrop, the British National champion, will now face Australia's David Palmer, the World Open champion, for a place in the final. 


Top seed Palmer showed little sign of his 98-minute encounter 24 hours earlier when he beat England's British Open champion Nick Matthew 11-10 (5-3), 11-4, 11-8 in 54 minutes.


"I was frustrated at last night's match - all credit to Daryl (Selby) - but I think I should have done better," said Palmer.  "All day I got stuck into being positive, and because Nick is someone who can win every tournament, the game plan was to have a very good start - if possible, take the first game and then put the pressure back on him."


The other semi-final will be an all-French affair between second seed Gregory Gaultier and third seed Thierry Lincou


Gaultier battled for 68 minutes to overcome Italian qualifier Davide Bianchetti 11-8, 10-11 (2-4), 11-8, 11-7, while Lincou prevailed in a see-saw encounter with Lee Beachill, beating the sixth seed from England 9-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-5, 11-8 in 64 minutes.


Lincou, the 31-year-old former world number one from Marseille, has enjoyed notable success in England - winning three PSA Tour events in the country in 2006 - while Gaultier, the four times European champion from Aix-en-Provence, has yet score an English Tour title.

Willstrop Leads England Team-Mates Into Prince English Grand Prix Quarters

England number one James Willstrop comfortably came through the opening round of the Prince English Grand Prix – Birmingham 2007 to join his three England team-mates Nick Matthew, Lee Beachill and Peter Barker in the quarter-finals of the inaugural 5-star PSA Tour squash championship which is taking place at the Edgbaston Priory Club and University of Birmingham.


Fourth seed Willstrop, the 24-year-old world No7 from Leeds, survived a tie-break first game before easing to an 11-10 (3-1), 11-8, 11-6 victory over compatriot Bradley Ball in 48 minutes.


The Yorkshireman now takes on career-long rival Peter Barker, the 23-year-old from Essex whom he regularly faced in junior competition finals around the world.  Barker, the No7 seed, beat fellow countryman Alister Walker 11-6, 11-8, 11-8.


Top seed David Palmer was taken the full distance by English qualifier Daryl Selby in a dramatic 98-minute first round marathon.  The 24-year-old outsider from Essex stunned the crowd by taking the first two games against the former world number one.


But Palmer, the reigning world champion from Australia, clawed his way back into the game to beat Selby 7-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-9 in one of the longest matches in both players' careers.


The only upset on the opening day's play at Edgbaston Priory came when Italian qualifier Davide Bianchetti defeated Alex Gough, the No8 seed from Wales, 11-10 (2-0), 11-10 (2-0), 11-8 in 82 minutes.


Bianchetti, the world No33 from Brescia, will now face Frenchman Gregory Gaultier for a place in the semi-finals.  Second seed Gaultier had a trouble-free first round win, claiming his quarter-final place when his teenage Egyptian opponent Tarek Momen retired injured after two games.

Play continues on the all-glass court in the Great Hall at the University of Birmingham


Home Hopes Led By Sole Survivor Selby In English Grand Prix Qualifiers

Despite English presence in all four matches, Essex's Daryl Selby was the sole domestic survivor in the qualifying finals of the Prince English Grand Prix – Birmingham 2007, the new 5-star PSA Tour squash championship which is taking place at the Edgbaston Priory Club and University of Birmingham.


The 24-year-old from Essex despatched compatriot Shaun le Roux 11-9, 11-4, 11-3 in 37 minutes to earn a first round clash with top seed David Palmer, the world champion from Australia who arrives in the West Midlands fresh from his victory in last week's Forexx Dutch Open in Amsterdam.


The 31-year-old from New South Wales is a popular figure in Birmingham where he led Edgbaston Priory in the English Premier League for three seasons.  Palmer, who boasts more PSA Tour titles than any other current player, is looking to extend his career haul to 22 in Birmingham.


Despite having a comfortable 2/0 lead in his qualifying final, Manchester-based Englishman Alex Stait went down 4-11, 2-11, 11-10 (2-0), 11-1, 11-7 to Jan Koukal.  The Czech number one now faces England's Lee Beachill, the sixth seed from Yorkshire, in the main draw.


But the luckiest player was Bradley Ball, the world No32 from Ipswich.  Top-seeded in the qualifiers, Ball crashed out to Egypt's Tarek Momen after a 63-minute marathon.  The 11-8, 11-4, 5-11, 10-11 (2-4), 11-9 victory takes 19-year-old Momen - now the youngest player in the event - through to a first round clash with France's No2 seed Gregory Gaultier.


But Ball was drawn as 'Lucky Loser' - and now has a second lease of life following the last-minute withdrawal of Australia's Stewart Boswell, the original sixth seed.


Boswell, who also has a strong following in Birmingham after representing Edgbaston Priory for a number of years, is suffering with a rib injury:  "It flared up two weeks ago during training back home in Australia, and I was hoping it would have cleared in time for me to play - but it hasn't," said the disconsolate Manchester-based 29-year-old.


"I love playing in England and was looking forward to being back in Birmingham after such a long time."


Thus Ball bounces back - and will face England's leading player in the event James Willstrop, the fourth seed from Leeds in Yorkshire.


World Champion Palmer Heads World-Class Prince English Grand Prix Field

Australia's World Open squash champion David Palmer heads a world-class field which will compete in the Prince English Grand Prix – Birmingham 2007, a new 5-star PSA Tour championship which will take place at the Edgbaston Priory Club and University of Birmingham from 6-9 September.


It will be popular return to the city for the world No3 from New South Wales who represented Edgbaston Priory in the English Premier League for three seasons, leading the team to the 2004 final.


But the four members of the England squad which won the European Team Championship title for the 15th time in a row this year will also be seeking individual glory on the all-glass court in Birmingham.  England number one James Willstrop leads the home challenge:  the 24-year-old from Leeds, seeded four, is joined by fellow Yorkshiremen Nick Matthew, the British Open champion from Sheffield who is seeded five, and Pontefract club-mate Lee Beachill, the seventh seed; and Essex's Peter Barker, the No8 seed who will arrive in Birmingham fresh from his third successive PSA Tour win in the Colombian Open in Bogotá.


Palmer, who faces a qualifier in the first round, is expected to meet world No7 Willstrop in the semi-finals - en-route to a final showdown with top-ranked Frenchman Gregory Gaultier, the No2 seed.  Gaultier, the four-times European champion from Aix-en-Provence was runner-up in this month's ATCO Super Series Finals in Manchester.


Gaultier is joined by compatriot Thierry Lincou in the Birmingham draw.  Like Palmer and Beachill, Lincou is also a former world number one.  Seeded three, the 31-year-old from Marseille faces local hero Jonathan Harford in the first round. 


Harford, a former student at the University of Birmingham, led the University team to the Premier League national play-offs in their debut season in the league this year.  The 24-year-old from Gloucestershire, now based in Leeds, has been awarded the wildcard into the event.


Australian Stewart Boswell also provides further local interest in the event.  The sixth seed from Canberra represented Edgbaston Priory with distinction in the Premier League - establishing a league-record 25-match unbeaten run over four seasons.


The Prince English Grand Prix – Birmingham 2007 will boast a $50,000 prize fund and will be supported by a full programme of masters and junior events which are expected to attract over four hundred competitors.