BRITISH OPEN (Men) 2012
Nick Matthew Wins Historic British Open Crown
2nd Round 1st Round Preview
Allam British Open 2012
The 02, London, $150k
 James Willstrop (Eng)
11-3, 11-5, 11-7
Simon Rosner (Ger)
11-7, 11-7, 11-5 (79m)
11-7, 11-9 (45m)
Mohamed El Shorbagy
8-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-8 (59m)
11-9, 11-4, 11-8 (49m)
Alister Walker (Bot)
11-7, 11-6, 11-7
[Q] Chris Simpson
Adrian Grant (Eng)
11-6, 11-8, 11-4
Adrian Waller (Eng)
11-4, 11-8 (37m)
Mohamed El Shorbagy
 Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy)
11-7, 9-11, 11-7,
 Amr Shabana (Egy)
11-7, 7-11, 6-11,
11-3, 11-6 (55m)
Tarek Momen (Egy)
11-4, 11-4 (32m)
12-10, 5-11, 1-11, 11-4 (45m)
Olli Tuominen (Fin)
11-6, 12-10, 11-6
Ali Anwar Reda (Egy)
Cameron Pilley (Aus)
Borja Golan (Esp)
3-11, 11-9, 11-1, 11-6 (49m)
 Ramy Ashour (Egy)
8-11, 11-7, 11-5,
Daryl Selby (Eng)
 Nick Matthew (Eng)
11-8, 11-4, 11-6
[Q] Max Lee (HKG)
11-5, 8-11, 11-4,
4-11, 11-6, 11-5,
Laurens Jan Anjema
11-5, 11-8, 11-6
Tom Richards (Eng)
11-4, 11-4 (49m)
Ong Beng Hee (Mas)
Steve Coppinger (Rsa)
11-6, 11-3 (61m)
[Q] Alan Clyne (SCO)
11-2, 11-3 (58m)
Laurens Jan Anjema
 Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned)
11-2, 11-1, 11-5
 Peter Barker (Eng)
11-3, 11-9, 11-9
[Q] Ryan Cuskelly
11-2, 11-6, 11-6 (57m)
2-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-6 (89m)
Saurav Ghosal (Ind)
11-7, 11-6, 11-5
[Q] Marwan El
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Col)
11-5, 11-6, 8-11,
9-11, 11-1 (64m)
[Q] Jonathan Kemp
11-5, 11-8, 11-7 (33m)
 Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
11-6, 11-4, 11-3
Nicolas Mueller (Sui)
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
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt Abdullah Al Muzayen (KUW) 5-11, 11-8, 11-9,
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
Nick Matthew Wins Historic British Open Crown
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
"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
"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.
Matthew On Course For Historic British Open
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
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.
Home in On British Open Crown
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.
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
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
today then prepare as I did today - I'm not ready to go home yet," insisted the
Yorkshire rivals James Willstrop and Nick Matthew moved one step
closer to a showdown clash as they powered to quarter-final victories.
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.
sluggishly against another powerful adversary but from 5-5 in the second game
took control to dominate the rest of the match.
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.
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.
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
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."
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|
Matthew Puts Richards In His Lace
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
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.
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.
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."
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.
"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."
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.
To Beat Borja In British Open Battle
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.
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.
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.
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!
explain what goes on inside my head. I know it's something I should work on to
find a solution.
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.
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.
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.
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
28-year-old world No1 from Leeds, won 9-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-5 and now meets
Mohamed El Shorbagy.
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.
Richards Set For O2 British Open Clash
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.
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.
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
"It's a cold
court so it will obviously favour the players who can play tight balls into the
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.
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."
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."
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.
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.
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
Powers Through O2 Opener
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
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.
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."
father, Malcolm, was back in his corner after a well-publicised disagreement
aired in his book, Shot And A Ghost.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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%…"
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
"The court was
dead today and I just couldn't get into a rhythm with him - he's so difficult to
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.
disappointing, as I think I'm playing my best squash and would like to have done
well here at a home venue," concluded Selby.
It 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.
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.
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
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.
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."
Simpson & Kemp Boost Home Interest In British Open
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
18-year-old from Alexandria - the only teenager competing in the main
draw - will now meet Indian number one Saurav Ghosal.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
success took him to the top of the world rankings for the first time in
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.
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.
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.
probably felt more disappointed the time before in 2008 when it all
seemed to go out of my control.
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."
much would it mean to finally win the title and put the three final
defeats behind him?
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!"
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.
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.