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21/05/2012
BRITISH OPEN (Men) 2012

Nick Matthew Wins Historic British Open Crown

Reports
  Final      Semi Finals      Quarter Finals     2nd Round    1st Round   Preview

Allam British Open 2012
Men's Draw

The 02, London,  $150k

Round ONE
14th/15th May
Round 2
16/17 May
Quarter Finals
18 May
Semi Finals
19 May
Final
20
May
[1] James Willstrop (Eng)
11-3, 11-5, 11-7 (49m)
Simon Rosner (Ger)
James Willstrop
9-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-5 (79m)
Alister Walker
James Willstrop
11-4, 11-7, 11-9 (45m)
Mohamed El Shorbagy
James Willstrop
8-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-8 (59m)
Ramy Ashour
Ramy Ashour
11-9, 11-4, 11-8 (49m)
Nick Matthew
Alister Walker (Bot)
11-7, 11-6, 11-7 (43m)
[Q] Chris Simpson (ENG)
Adrian Grant (Eng)
11-6, 11-8, 11-4 (36m)
Adrian Waller (Eng)
Adrian Grant
12-10, 11-4, 11-8 (37m)
Mohamed El Shorbagy
[7] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy)
11-7, 9-11, 11-7, 12-10 (61m)
[Q] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA)
[5] Amr Shabana (Egy)
11-7, 7-11, 6-11, 11-3, 11-6 (55m)
Tarek Momen (Egy)
Amr Shabana
12-10, 11-4, 11-4 (32m)
Olli Tuominen
Amr Shabana
11-8, 12-10, 5-11, 1-11, 11-4 (45m)
Ramy Ashour
Olli Tuominen (Fin)
11-6, 12-10, 11-6 (40m)
Ali Anwar Reda (Egy)
Cameron Pilley (Aus)
12-10, 12-10, 11-4 (63m)
Borja Golan (Esp)
Borja Golan
7-11, 3-11, 11-9, 11-1, 11-6 (49m)
Ramy Ashour
[4] Ramy Ashour (Egy)
8-11, 11-7, 11-5, 16-14 (55m)
Daryl Selby (Eng)
[3] Nick Matthew (Eng)
11-8, 11-4, 11-6 (45m)
[Q] Max Lee (HKG)
Nick Matthew
11-5, 8-11, 11-4, 11-6 (68m)
Tom Richards
Nick Matthew
4-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-5 (60m)
Laurens Jan Anjema
Nick Matthew
11-5, 11-8, 11-6 (45m)
Peter Barker
Tom Richards (Eng)
11-7, 10-12, 11-4, 11-4 (49m)
Ong Beng Hee (Mas)
Steve Coppinger (Rsa)
11-9, 11-13, 11-6, 11-3 (61m)
[Q] Alan Clyne (SCO)
Steve Coppinger
12-10, 9-11, 11-2, 11-3 (58m)
Laurens Jan Anjema
[8] Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned)
11-2, 11-1, 11-5 (30m)
[Q] Gregoire Marche (FRA)
[6] Peter Barker (Eng)
11-3, 11-9, 11-9 (50m)
[Q] Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
Peter Barker
7-11, 11-2, 11-6, 11-6 (57m)
Saurav Ghosal
Peter Barker
11-8, 2-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-6 (89m)
Gregory Gaultier
Saurav Ghosal (Ind)
11-7, 11-6, 11-5 (35m)
[Q] Marwan El Shorbagy (EGY)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Col)
11-5, 11-6, 8-11, 9-11, 11-1 (64m)
[Q] Jonathan Kemp (ENG)
 Jonathan Kemp
11-5, 11-8, 11-7 (33m)
Gregory Gaultier
[2] Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
11-6, 11-4, 11-3 (33m)
Nicolas Mueller (Sui)

Qualifying finals:

Alan Clyne (SCO) bt Siddharth Suchde (IND) 11-6, 11-5, 11-7 (38m)
Chris Simpson (ENG) bt Zac Alexander (AUS) 11-4, 11-7, 12-10 (56m)
Jonathan Kemp (ENG) bt Robbie Temple (ENG) 11-8, 11-7, 13-11 (43m)
Marwan El Shorbagy (EGY) bt Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) 13-11, 11-4, 9-11, 8-11, 11-9 (59m)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) 11-13, 11-9, 8-11, 11-8, 12-10 (112m)
Max Lee (HKG) bt Amr Khaled Khalifa (EGY) 5-11, 11-8, 11-5, 13-11 (67m)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt Abdullah Al Muzayen (KUW) 5-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-7 (67m)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 12-10, 9-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-8 (100m)

 

RESULTS: PSA World Series Allam British Open, London, England

Click on Images for Larger View

Final

Nick Matthew Wins Historic British Open Crown

Nick Matthew overcame fiery Egyptian Ramy Ashour in straight games in today's final of the Allam British Open to secure his place in history as the first Englishman to win the world's most famous squash title for a third time.

The 31-year-old from Sheffield produced a high level of accuracy throughout the match to win 11-9, 11-4, 11-8 in 49 minutes in front of a near capacity audience watching the PSA World Series event at the O2 Arena in London.

Ashour hit the tin 14 times during the match as Matthew's precision squash forced him into mistakes. The 24-year-old from Cairo surrendered an 8-6 lead in the first game and was totally outplayed in the second as Matthew dominated the middle of the court and worked his opponent from corner to corner with tight drives, drops and volleys.

The Yorkshireman continued to dominate in the third game and led 6-2 before Ashour responded with his best spell of the match to draw level at 8-8. However, Matthew regained control and more loose play from Ashour gave him the next three points.

As Matthew moved to match ball, Ashour demanded a video replay but the world champion reminded the referee that the Egyptian had already used his appeal earlier in the game.

After collecting his trophy, Matthew thanked the title sponsor Dr Assem Allam for resurrecting the most celebrated tournament in squash, founded in 1930.

"It's great to have the British Open back on the calendar again and we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Dr Allam for making it happen," said Matthew, previous winner of the title in 2006 and 2009.

"I am 32 in July and may not have too many more finals left, but Ramy has many more to come.

"He is a genius and a magician with the racket but he made a lot of errors today. There is a fine margin with those shots and had they been a few millimetres higher they would have been winners.

"This was a brilliant tournament and I'm already looking forward to next year's event in Yorkshire. And if Ramy and the others are thinking that London is our home territory, wait until you come to Hull!"

Ashour said: "Nick was really in the zone and was several steps ahead of me today in every department. I can't be too downhearted because I have played well this week and am proud of what I did.

"There is a thin margin between success and failure at the top level and a lot of shots did not work for me today.

"I have been struggling a lot with injuries in the past year but I love this game and I consider squash one of God's gifts.

"In the third game I did not want to give up and tried to get a grip on myself. The British Open is one of the most important titles in the world and although it was a painful lesson today you need to learn from your defeats.

"I am so glad that the British Open is back and stronger than ever."

Matthew's historic triumph strengthens his hold on second place in the PSA world rankings behind fellow Yorkshireman James Willstrop, who succumbed to Ashour's rampant racket skills in the best match of the tournament in the semi-finals.

 

Semi Finals

Matthew On Course For Historic British Open Success

After beating England team-mate Peter Barker in today's semi-finals of the Allam British Open, world champion Nick Matthew is on course to make history by becoming the first Englishman in the event's 82-year history to win the world's most famous squash title for a third time.

The 31-year-old from Sheffield - winner of the title in 2006 and 2009 - faced surprise opponent Barker in the last four match in the PSA World Series event after the sixth seed from London upset second-seeded Frenchman Gregory Gaultier in the quarter-finals.

But Matthew was too strong for the left-hander, winning 11-5, 11-8, 11-6 in 45 minutes in front of a sell-out crowd at the O2 Arena in London.

"I was pleased with the way I started," said Matthew. "I knew Peter had a hard match last night so I wanted to get on top early and I managed to do that.

"Last time was a long time ago, 2009, so it doesn't really feel like I'm defending champion, but it's great that Dr Allam and everyone involved has got this great event back on the calendar, and I'm looking forward to playing the final tomorrow in such a tremendous venue and atmosphere."

Earlier, top seed James Willstrop failed to make it an all-English final when Egyptian whirlwind Ramy Ashour blew him away in four games.

After losing a tight first game, No4 seed Ashour overwhelmed the world number one from Leeds with some dazzling racket skills and breathtaking dives around the court to keep the ball coming back.

Willstrop rallied in the fourth game but from 6-4 ahead he was unable to push on as Ashour produced some incredible retrieving and clinched the match with an astonishing volley kill shot.

 

Quarter Finals

English Trio Home in On British Open Crown

Londoner Peter Barker's shock five-game dismissal of No2 seed Gregory Gaultier in tonight's quarter-finals of the Allam British Open means that three Englishmen will contest the semi-finals of the PSA World Series squash event at the O2 Arena in London for only the second time in the professional era of the sport's most historic championship.

Sixth seed Barker fought back from 2/1 down to topple former champion Gaultier, the world number two, 11-8, 2-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-6 in a physical encounter lasting 89 minutes.

The local hero went into the match as the underdog, having won only one of their ten career meetings since 2005.

"I pulled out everything I had today," said Barker afterwards. "Fortunately it was just about enough.

"I'll enjoy today then prepare as I did today - I'm not ready to go home yet," insisted the 28-year-old left-hander.

Earlier, Yorkshire rivals James Willstrop and Nick Matthew moved one step closer to a showdown clash as they powered to quarter-final victories.

World number one Willstrop beat Egyptian Mohamed El Shorbagy, the No7 seed, and world champion Matthew overcame eighth-seeded Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema after losing the opening game.

The 6ft 4in top seed Willstrop won 11-4, 11-7, 11-9 in 45 minutes of compelling, intelligent squash as he contained and ultimately subdued his hard-hitting opponent, weathering a fierce storm towards the end of the third game.

Matthew began sluggishly against another powerful adversary but from 5-5 in the second game took control to dominate the rest of the match.

Anjema hit some outrageous kills in the opening game and Matthew made some unaccustomed mistakes, especially, on the volley.

But as the match wore on the 31-year-old from Sheffield, who is bidding for a historic third British Open title, produced tight, error-free squash to book a semi-final clash with Londoner Barker, who was roared home by a vociferous local crowd savouring the prospect of seeing three English players in the semi-finals.

The same trio also reached the last four in 2009, the last time the Open was held.

Willstrop meets the mercurial Ramy Ashour, who beat fellow Egyptian Amr Shabana in a match that provided a dramatic mixture of blinding skill and another mental meltdown from Ashour.

After opening up a two-game lead, Ashour lost the third and fourth games in a total time of 12 minutes and admitted: "I have so many crazy things going on in my head. I am not quite sane."

Regarding his lapses in concentration, Ashour added: "I think it has always been like that between us. You can only play well against Shabana in patches and for a 20-minute spell he got in a place that was unbelievable. When he is in that zone he can beat anyone in the world in 20 minutes. It was surreal.

"You have to play the right shots at the right time and there is a lot of mental stuff going on. Playing him it is more mental squash than physical squash."

Willstrop said: "Ramy is a very exciting player and to play him in the semi-finals of the British Open is an enthralling proposition. He makes squash great to watch and we all know what he can do with a racket."

 

2nd Round Bottom Half

World Champion Matthew Puts Richards In His Lace

World champion Nick Matthew reached the quarter-finals of the Allam British Open with a ruthless performance against Tom Richards - having lent his England team-mate a shoelace in the middle of the second game of the second round match of the PSA World Series squash event at the O2 Arena in London.

Unseeded Richards stopped play as his lace broke and, without a spare, he could only play on when Matthew went to his own bag to find a spare.

When the players returned to the court, Richards won the second game - but third seed Matthew regained control in ruthless and disciplined fashion to win the third and fourth as Richards' challenge faded.

"I wish I hadn't lent him that shoelace," said the two-time champion after his 11-5, 8-11, 11-4, 11-6 victory in 68 minutes. "It was a ridiculous decision to give Tom a let for a broken shoelace. I've never heard that one before.

"But, that apart, he is a top-16 player who has just made his England debut and I had to be on my guard the whole way through," explained the 31-year-old from Sheffield.

"When it went to one-all in games I had to respond in the third. I was pleased to win that and at the start of the fourth there were some stoppages and it took a while to get back into my rhythm.

"But overall I am very pleased with the win and am feeling good."

In Friday's quarter-finals, the Yorkshireman meets Dutch No1 Laurens Jan Anjema, who swept past South African Stephen Coppinger 12-10, 9-11, 11-2, 11-3.

Matthew added: "LJ is like Tom, another player knocking on the door and hungry for a major scalp. No more rest days now. I'm glad about that. We are at the business end of the tournament and it would be great to see the O2 Arena full up with squash fans making lots of noise at this amazing venue."

Second-seeded Frenchman Gregory Gaultier ended the run of English qualifier Jonathan Kemp in just 33 minutes and now faces a tough challenge from No6 seed Peter Barker. The Essex-based left-hander dropped the first game to Indian No1 Saurav Ghosal but recovered to control the rest of the match.

Top Half

Ramy Regroups To Beat Borja In British Open Battle

Egyptian squash superstar Ramy Ashour survived a massive scare as he fought back from two games down to beat Spanish No1 Borja Golan in today's second round of the Allam British Open in London.

The 24-year-old No4 seed from Cairo admitted that his head was all over the place at the start of the match at the O2 Arena.

Ashour recovered from a perilous position and suddenly transformed his game into an attacking whirlwind to reach the quarter-finals of the fourth PSA World Series event of the year.

"Mentally and physically I was two paces behind Borja," explained the former world number one later. "Footwork, movement, racket preparation - everything - he was so much better than me. That's the first time I have played him and he played incredibly well at the start.

"I would have been really disappointed if I'd lost that 3/0 - but not so much if it had been 3/2. Hopefully I learnt a lesson from that!

"I can't explain what goes on inside my head. I know it's something I should work on to find a solution.

"Sometimes I think I am just too nice. You walk on court, shake hands and smile at your opponent and it's difficult to find the right motivation. You lose concentration and you just can't seem to find your way out.

"It helped when Egyptian coach Amir Wagih came to my corner. Often my head is too crowded to take in information between games. But today, when Amir was talking, I was listening."

Ashour was so out of sorts, and Golan looking so in control of the match, that the Egyptian was on the brink of a shock defeat - but from 8-6 down in the third game he tightened up his game. He won that 11-9 and his game was transformed with a spell of electrifying squash as he produced a succession of astonishing winners to win the fourth 11-1.

Golan, ranked 20 in the world, looked broken and the drop shots that were earlier so reliable began to find a magnetic attraction to the tin. Ashour continued to conjure up more outrageous shots as he closed out the fifth 11-6.

He will need to be mentally alert throughout his quarter-final against fellow Egyptian Amr Shabana on Friday.

In contrast to Ashour, four-time world champion Shabana looked calm, controlled and confident as he overcame Finnish No1 Olli Tuominen in straight games.

Top seed James Willstrop won a physical 79-minute battle against former England team-mate Alister Walker, the world No13 who now represents Botswana, his country of birth. The first game included 31 refereeing decisions and Walker received a conduct warning for pushing after a succession of collisions and mid-court blocks.

Willstrop, the 28-year-old world No1 from Leeds, won 9-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-5 and now meets Mohamed El Shorbagy.

The 21-year-old seventh-seeded Egyptian saw off Londoner Adrian Grant in straight games - and immediately caught a train back to Bristol for a university exam on his tournament rest day.

 

1st Round Bottom Half

Matthew & Richards Set For O2 British Open Clash

Rising England star Tom Richards is out to hijack world champion Nick Matthew in Thursday's second round of the Allam British Open, the fourth PSA World Series squash event of the year at the O2 Arena in London.

The two were room-mates a week ago as Richards made his senior international debut, helping England to win the European Team Championship in Germany.

Now the 25-year-old Londoner is aiming to claim the most significant PSA Tour victory of his career, having beaten the experienced Malaysian Ong Beng Hee in four games in the first round at the London Piazza.

Richards reached a career-high position of 15 in the April rankings and a good showing in the Open will help him to climb even further.

"I have played Nick several times in the past, but the last was in the Nationals a year and a half ago," said Richards after the 11-7, 10-12, 11-4, 11-4 victory which takes him into the last sixteen of the world's most famous event for the first time.

"I have seen him play so often in tournaments and watched dozens of his matches on TV, so I know what to expect.

"It will be a very tough match but I want to test myself, to see how far I have come in this game. I feel I am moving well and enjoyed playing on the glass court against Beng Hee.

"It's a cold court so it will obviously favour the players who can play tight balls into the front corners."

Matthew, who is bidding for a historic third British Open title, was pleased to get acclimatised on the cold court in his hard-fought 11-8, 11-4, 11-6 win over Hong Kong number one Max Lee.

The third-seeded Yorkshireman said: "It should be a good match. Tom is hungry and will believe he can win. At this stage of his career he is ready for a big scalp so I will have to be aware."

Matthew invited British hurdles star Colin Jackson to watch the action - and the silver medallist at the 1988 Seoul Games was keen to back squash's bid for a place in the Olympic Games.

"I used to play a bit of squash down in Cardiff but it's amazing to watch the top guys in action," said Jackson. "As an athlete myself, I have an enormous respect for them and simply can't understand why squash is not in the Olympics.

"This is a very exciting sport and the glass court here in the O2 looks amazing.

"With Nick as world champion and James Willstrop the current world number one, it's such a shame that squash is not in the London Games this year because it would mean at least a couple of extra medals for Team GB.

"We are used to seeing squash in the Commonwealth Games.

"My message to the players is to keep trying and battling away because you are the trailblazers," added the three-time world champion athlete. "Never give up. One day squash will be in the Olympics and you deserve to be there."

Click on ImageThere was further good home news later when Englishmen Peter Barker and Jonathan Kemp (left) also won through to the second round - Kemp becoming the only qualifier to survive the first round.

The Wolverhampton-born 31-year-old beat higher-ranked Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez, who seized up after suffering an injury in the fifth game. The win puts Kemp, the former world No20 making his fifth British Open appearance since 2004, into the last 16 for the first time.

Kemp meets Gregory Gaultier, the No2 seed from France who beat rising Swiss star Nicolas Mueller 11-6, 11-4, 11-3 - while sixth seed Barker, who overcame Australian qualifier Ryan Cuskelly in straight games, faces Indian No1 Saurav Ghosal.

Top Half

Willstrop Powers Through O2 Opener

England's top seed James Willstrop powered past Germany's Simon Rosner to book his place in the second round of the Allam British Open, the fourth PSA World Series squash event of the year at the O2 Arena in London.

The world number one from Leeds produced a mixture of precision squash with outstanding court coverage to triumph 11-3, 11-5, 11-7 in 49 minutes.

Rosner is an attacking player but struggled to get the ball past the 6ft 4in Willstrop, who produced a succession of sublime winners at the front of the court.

Click on ImageWillstrop said: "It's fairly cool in the arena and it makes the glass court rather dead, so the ball stays short and doesn't bounce as much as usual.

"I was pleased with my movement and with those conditions I knew that I would have a lot of ground to cover, so I was well prepared for it."

Willstrop's father, Malcolm, was back in his corner after a well-publicised disagreement aired in his book, Shot And A Ghost.

The 28-year-old Yorkshireman added: "I seem to have spent the last few months telling the world all my secrets, which is fairly unusual for a shy person like myself - but it feels good to have the old team back together again."

In the second round Willstrop meets his old sparring partner Alister Walker, who is now based in New York and recently switched his national allegiance to Botswana.

Walker removed English qualifier Chris Simpson and Willstrop added: "We used to see a lot of each other in Yorkshire and have played each other a million times."

In a clash between two London-based left-handers, 31-year-old Adrian Grant beat Adrian Waller in straight games.

Click on ImageEarlier, England's Daryl Selby won the opening game of his first round match against fourth seed Ramy Ashour, but walked into a juggernaut of inspired squash from the former world champion from Egypt and capitulated 3/1 in a 55-minute thriller.

Selby took his game to the Egyptian, attacking short balls and really putting Ashour under extreme pressure, taking the opening game 11-8 in 10 minutes. But Ashour knuckled down to turn the game around and went in to the fourth game with a 2/1 advantage.

In the fourth, Selby found himself with two game balls to draw level at 10-8 before Ashour got three match balls all saved by the 29-year-old Englishman. The suspense among the big crowd at the O2 was tangible, with the home crowd pushing for their man, but all to no avail as the Egyptian took the match 8-11, 11-7, 11-5, 16-14.

Ashour commented: "The first time I came and saw the venue, I thought whoaaaa, it's just huge. It is different and I'm so happy to be back. I haven't played in the tournament for a while, and it's nice to be back. England sets up the model for the rest of the world, and all the players are so happy to come and playing in the prestigious British Open.

"As long as I keep doing what I'm told, that I'm careful with what I eat, and manage my regime to take care of my body - which is probably a bit more fragile than others, my doctors told me - things will be fine…. I can't be ok, it's 0% or 100%…"

Whilst happy with his performance, Selby was disappointed that the draw had paired him up with Ashour in the first round. "Though it's the first time we've ever played each other, it's the third time that the PSA have drawn us together in the opening round - the first was at last year's PSA Masters in Delhi, where a redraw then split us up, and the second was at the Tournament of Champions in New York where Ramy pulled out with his injury," explained Selby, the world No10.

"The court was dead today and I just couldn't get into a rhythm with him - he's so difficult to play.

"He played some unbelievable shots - one minute it's in the nick, the next it's in the tin. It's fantastic to see him moving so well - his court coverage is amazing. He's great for the game.

"It's disappointing, as I think I'm playing my best squash and would like to have done well here at a home venue," concluded Selby.

Click on ImageIt was a good opening session for Egyptian squash as four-time world champion Amr Shabana, who has won everything the sport has to offer with the exception of the British Open, commenced his challenge for this year's title with a hard fought victory against his young compatriot Tarek Momen.

In the fantastic setting of the London Piazza, O2 Arena, Shabana started hard and fast, winning the first game. But Momen, 15 ranking places lower and eight years his junior, battled back to open up a 2/1 lead.

But the 32-year-old maestro - who won his first title on English soil in London at the beginning of this year - drew level for the loss of just three points.

And in the decider, full motivation and confidence around the racket, Shabana zoomed to 9-4, before taking the match 11-7, 7-11, 6-11, 11-3, 11-6.

"I think this was an amazing match to win," said the fifth seed from Cairo afterwards. "But when I saw the draw the first time, I was not very happy really.

"Squash is now very healthy, there is now a very small gap between the top 50 players, and it's good to see people here that know their squash, they are making the tournament!"

The only upset of the day took place when Spaniard Borja Golan, ranked 20 in the world, beat Australia's world No18 Cameron Pilley 12-10, 12-10, 11-4 in 63 minutes.

"We've played each so many times before - since we were juniors - it's always tough with Cameron," said the victorious 29-year-old from Santiago de Compostela.

Golan is bidding to emulate the world No10 ranking he achieved in 2009, before undergoing career-threatening knee surgery. "Physically I am fine - and mentally I am more experienced - so I'm really motivated to get back into the world top ten.

"My main aim is to stay injury-free - but it would be nice to get back into the top ten."

 

Preview

Simpson & Kemp Boost Home Interest In British Open

Chris Simpson and Jonathan Kemp will boost home interest in the Allam British Open after surviving the qualifying finals of the fourth PSA World Series squash event of the year which gets underway at the O2 Piazza in the O2 Arena in London today.

In two of only three qualifying finals at St George's Hill club in Weybridge which were resolved in straight games, Simpson beat Australian contender Zac Alexander 11-4, 11-7, 12-10 and Kemp overcame fellow English left-hander Robbie Temple 11-8, 11-7, 13-11.

Harrogate-based Simpson, the world No45 from Guernsey, will line up against Botswana's Alister Walker in the main draw at the O2 Piazza, while Kemp - the 31-year-old world No40 who first attempted to qualify for a place in the British Open back in 2000 and is now making his fifth appearance in the main draw - will face Colombia's sole entry Miguel Angel Rodriguez.

A pair of Frenchmen survived the two longest battles at St George's Hill: Mathieu Castagnet twice came from behind to overcome Malaysian Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan 11-13, 11-9, 8-11, 11-8, 12-10 in 112 minutes and - in the final match of the day - Gregoire Marche beat Egyptian Karim Abdel Gawad 12-10, 9-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-8 in exactly 100 minutes.

World No48 Marche, the lowest-ranked qualifier, will meet Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema, the eighth seed, while Castagnet, also based n Aix-en-Provence, will face Egypt's Mohamed El Shorbagy, the No7 seed.

Mohamed's younger brother Marwan El Shorbagy became the only Egyptian to qualify after surviving a tough 59-minute battle with fellow countryman Mohamed Abouelghar 13-11, 11-4, 9-11, 8-11, 11-9.

The 18-year-old from Alexandria - the only teenager competing in the main draw - will now meet Indian number one Saurav Ghosal.

Alan Clyne became Scotland's sole entry in the main draw after defeating India's Siddharth Suchde 11-6, 11-5, 11-7. The 25-year-old world No28 from Edinburgh now faces South African Stephen Coppinger.

Max Lee became the only Hong Kong player in the main draw after beating Egypt's Amr Khaled Khalifa 5-11, 11-8, 11-5, 13-11. The 24-year-old's reward is a clash with third seed Nick Matthew, the title-holder from Sheffield who is bidding to become the first Englishman in the history of the event to win the title a third time.

Ryan Cuskelly doubled Australian interest in the event after beating Kuwait's Abdullah Al Muzayen 5-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-7. The New York-based 24-year-old meets sixth-seeded Londoner Peter Barker in the first round.

World No1 Willstrop In Fourth-Time-Lucky British Open Bid

England's James Willstrop is one of only three players in the 82-year history of the British Open to reach the final of the world's most famous squash event three times without winning the title.

But the world number one from Leeds is aiming to remove his name from this inauspicious list by fulfilling his top seeding in this week's Allam British Open, the fourth PSA World Series event of the year which will be staged at the O2 Piazza in O2 Arena in London, from 14-20 May.

England's most successful junior player of all-time, Willstrop has enjoyed a distinguished international career in the sport. But it was last November that the 28-year-old Yorkshireman began his most sensational run, winning three PSA World Series titles in quick succession and going on to make the final in his next four Tour appearances, picking up another victory - at the North American Open - on the way.

The success took him to the top of the world rankings for the first time in January.

It was in 2005 that Willstrop reached his first British Open final after defeating Canadian legend Jonathon Power in the semis. But, seeded seven, he went down in straight games to the higher-ranked and more experienced Australian Anthony Ricketts.

Three years later, Willstrop was again back in the final - where he fought back from two games down to take the match into a decider, and had two match-balls before going down to Australia's mighty David Palmer after 111 minutes.

Incredibly, a year later, he suffered the same fate - again unable to convert a championship ball in the decider before losing out to Yorkshire rival Nick Matthew in a dramatic 122-minute marathon.

"It was hard to take because it was so close," recalls Willstrop. "Despite the animosity that day, I didn't have any regrets about it. I did all I could but lost.

"I probably felt more disappointed the time before in 2008 when it all seemed to go out of my control.

"It's not the end of the world though. It could always be worse. It has still been wonderful to compete in British Open finals. Hopefully there is still time to grab a title! You must move on without delay."

How much would it mean to finally win the title and put the three final defeats behind him?

"A great deal. I would prefer not to look at them negatively, as 'defeats': Reaching the British Open final is an outstanding achievement. Just because they weren't wins doesn't mean they were failures.

"I am simply looking forward to going to London, hoping to play good squash and progress as well as I can."

Willstrop competes in his tenth British Open this week not only for the first time as world number one, but also as an author, after the publication earlier this year of his lauded book 'Shot and a Ghost'.

"Writing has made me a better player," Willstrop told Guardian journalist Donald McRae last week. "It's helped me put down some painful thoughts and, as I was reaching the culmination, I began winning one big event after another.

"The first tournament was in Hong Kong when I was in the final stages of writing and redrafting. I remember winning matches and, straightaway, heading off to a cafe to write."

Willstrop begins his 2012 British Open campaign against German number one Simon Rosner - and is expected to meet Egyptian rival Ramy Ashour in the semi-finals before a final clash with second-seeded Frenchman Gregory Gaultier.

 

Matthew In Historic British Open Hat-Trick Bid

When Yorkshire's world champion Nick Matthew begins the defence of his title in this month's Allam British Open Squash Championships in London, he will be bidding to achieve a first in the event's 82-year history: become the first Englishman ever to win the world's most famous squash title for a third time.

After a two-year gap, the 2012 British Open - the fourth PSA World Series event of the year - will be staged at the O2 Piazza in London's O2 Arena, from 14-20 May.

British squash legend Jonah Barrington, representing Ireland, won a historic six British Open titles from 1967 - and in 2009 Matthew won the trophy for a second time, three years after ending a 67-year drought by becoming the first English winner since 1939.

But it was in 1932, two years after the inaugural men's championship, that Don Butcher became the first two-time English winner - beginning an illustrious history which included champions from Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and also from Egypt (including FD Amr Bey and AA AbouTaleb), Pakistan (from brothers Hashim Khan and Azam Khan through to Jansher Khan and record 10-time winner Jahangir Khan) and Australia (including seven-time champion Geoff Hunt and more recent four times winner David Palmer).

Matthew, who topped the world rankings throughout last year and is currently ranked two in the world, is the event's third seed - behind fellow Yorkshireman James Willstrop, the world No1, and Frenchman Gregory Gaultier, the second seed.

"Winning my first British Open in 2006 was my major breakthrough in the sport," admitted Matthew on the eve of his ninth appearance in the championship since trying to qualify in 2000.

"I think I played pre-qualifying at Lambs and made it through to the actual qualifying when I was about 17 - only to get well and truly beaten by Aussie John Williams in the first qualifying round. Even those qualifying rounds had an amazing atmosphere back then and I'm glad pre-qualifying has been reintroduced this year.

"After winning it, I couldn't believe my name was on the same trophy as the likes of Jonah Barrington, Geoff Hunt and Jahangir Khan, not to mention others. To become the first English winner for 67 years was something that will live with me forever.

"The manner in which I won in 2009, after my shoulder surgery in 2008, was also equally memorable and I would dearly love to get my hands on the trophy for a third time in 2012. All of this year's training has been building up to this event," added the 31-year-old from Sheffield.

Matthew recalls his earliest memories of the British Open as "travelling to Wembley Conference Centre every Easter to watch the likes of Jahangir, Jansher, Rodney Martin, Chris Dittmar and Chris Robertson fight it out for the biggest title in squash.

"I remember one particularly brilliant weekend in 1991 when we went to the squash at the Conference Centre on the Saturday, then watched Sheffield Wednesday win the Rumbelows (League) Cup against Manchester United over the road at Wembley Stadium on the Sunday!"

Were those early visits to the British Open inspirational? "Absolutely - it was the pinnacle of the sport and was the first time I thought 'I want to do that'."

Matthew meets a qualifier in the first round and is expected to progress to the semi-finals where he is scheduled to meet Gaultier.

Willstrop, runner-up to Matthew in 2009 and to Palmer the previous year, opens his 2012 campaign against German number one Simon Rosner. The 28-year-old from Leeds is expected to meet Ramy Ashour, the third seed from Egypt on semi-finals day.

The pair contested last month's final of the El Gouna International Open, the third World Series event of the year in Egypt - where Ashour prevailed in three games.

 

 

   

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