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12/02/2012
BRITISH NATIONALS 2012
 

Nick Matthew & Laura Massaro Win National Titles

       Women's Draw                              Previews and Qualifying
Reports
Final      Semi Finals      Quarter Finals      2nd Round     1st Round
 
Previous Events
2011     2010     2009     2008     2007     2006 
 Men's Draw
Round One Round Two Quarters Semis Final
[1] James Willstrop (Yorks)
11/3, 9/11, 11/4, 11/4 (35m)
[Q] Kevin Moran (Sco)
James Willstrop
11-4, 11-3, 11-9 (24m)
 Andy Whipp
James Willstrop
8-11, 11-3, 11-3, 11-1 (43m)
Chris Ryder
James Willstrop
11-9, 11-6, 11-9 (54m)

Adrian Grant
James Willstrop
11-8, 11-3, 6-11, 14-12 (81m)

Nick Matthew
[12] Andy Whipp (Ches)
11/5, 12/14, 6/11, 11/9, 11/7 (67m)
Declan James (Nott)
[6] Chris Ryder (Herts)
11/8, 11/5, 11/5 (30m)
[Q] Oliver Holland (Notts)
Chris Ryder
11-5, 11-6, 11-4 (47m)
Anthony Graham
[16] Anthony Graham (Gloucs)
8/11, 8/11, 11/9, 11/5, 11/9 (62m)
[Q] Richard Birks (Shrops)
[4] Adrian Grant (Kent)
11/4, 11/6, 11/3 (24m)
Neil Cordell (Yorks)
Adrian Grant
11-7, 11-8, 11-6 (48m)
Robbie Temple
Adrian Grant
11-5, 11-9, 13-11 (47m)
Eddie Charlton
[9] Robbie Temple (Gloucs)
11/5, 11/5, 11/5 (26m)
[Q] Stuart Crawford (Sco)
[5] Tom Richards (Surrey)
4/11, 11/8, 11/9, 11/4 (46m)
[Q] Mark Fuller (Notts)
Tom Richards
w/o
Eddie Charlton
[14] Eddie Charlton (Notts)
11/13, 11/3, 11/9, 11/5 (56m)
Adam Murrills (Ches)
Steve Siveter (Míside)
11/7, 11/9, 11/8 (34m)
[10] Joe Lee (Surrey)
Joe Lee
10-12, 11-7, 11-6, 11-8 (58m)
Adrian Waller
Adrian Waller
11-1, 11-3, 11-13, 11-4 (50m)
Daryl Selby
Daryl Selby
11-8, 11-3, 14-12 (67m)

Nick Matthew
[Q] Andrew Widdison (Yorks)
11/5, 11/5, 11/6 (27m)
[8] Adrian Waller (Herts)
[LL] Jason Pike (Wilts)
9/11, 11/2, 11/8, 11/6 (33m)
[11] Joel Hinds (Derbys)
Joel Hinds
11-9, 13-11, 6-11, 11-8 (54m)
Daryl Selby
[Q] Nathan Lake (Gloucs)
11/7, 7/11, 11/5, 11/5 (40m)
[3] Daryl Selby (Essex)
Simon Parke (Yorks)
11/6, 11/9, 11/7 (44m)
[13] Charles Sharpes (Surrey)
Charles Sharpes
11-4, 11-8, 11-8 (51m)
Chris Simpson
Chris Simpson
12-10, 11-4, 11-4 (54m)
Nick Matthew
Ben Coleman (Essex)
11/9, 11/5, 11/6 (44m)
[7] Chris Simpson (Hamps)
Alex Ingham (Surrey)
11/5, 12/10, 11/7 (37m)
[5] Jaymie Haycocks (Shrops)
Jaymie Haycocks
9-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-4 (46m)
Nick Matthew
[Q] James Earles (Yorks)
11/4, 11/5, 11/6 (32m)
[2] Nick Matthew (Yorks)

Qualifying finals:

Men's 2nd qualifying round:
Mark Fuller (Notts) bt Daniel Hockborn (D & C) 11-7, 11-7, 11-5 (30m)
Ky Hibberd (Lancs) bt Oliver Turner (Yorks) 11-5, 11-1, 11-5 (31m)
Nathan Lake (Glos) bt Liam Gutcher (Northumbria) 11-3, 11-3, 11-1 (22m)
Greg Lobban (Scotland) bt Adam Martin Auckland (Lincs) 11-9, 1-11, 6-11, 11-3, 11-7 (52m)
Oliver Holland (Notts) bt Will John (Wales) 11-3, 11-8, 11-7 (28m)
Jason David Pike (Wilts) bt Matthew Hardy (Northumbria) 12-10, 12-10, 11-7 (32m)
Richard Birks (Shropshire) bt Alex Cutts (Norfolk) 11-6, 9-11, 11-6, 11-8 (38m)
Jack Jago (Essex) bt Nick Wall (Yorks) 12-10, 11-9, 11-8 (41m)
Andrew Widdison (Yorks) bt Daniel O'Hara (Leics) 11-5, 10-12, 11-7, 11-7 (44m)
Taminder Gata-Aura (Yorks) bt Dominic Hamilton (Oxon) 6-11, 11-6,! 13-11, 8-11, 13-11 (55m)
Kevin Moran (Scotland) bt Jamie Mathews (Surrey) 9-11, 11-6, 11-3, 11-6 (36m)
David Barnett (Northumbria) bt Sean Hunter (Cheshire) 11-8, 11-8, 11-8 (33m)
Tom Ford (Glos) bt Richard Shellam (Warwicks) 11-7, 11-4, 11-7 (35m)
James Earles (Yorks) bt Liam Foster (Cheshire) 11-3, 11-4, 11-3 (21m)
Matthew Sidaway (Lancs) bt Robert Dadds (Cambs) 11-8, 11-6, 10-12, 11-8 (33m)
Stuart Crawford (Scotland) bt Ashley Davies (Derbyshire) 8-11, 10-12, 11-7, 11-4, 11-4 (56m)

Qualifying finals:
Mark Fuller (Notts) bt Ky Hibberd (Lancs) 11-5, 11-5, 11-4 (30m)
Nathan Lake (Glos) bt Greg Lobban (Scotland) 11-9, 5-11, 11-8, 11-6 (50m)
Oliver Holland (Notts) bt Jason David Pike (Wilts) 11-3, 11-9, 11-5 (30m)
Richard Birks (Shropshire) bt Jack Jago (Essex) 10-12, 11-9, 11-4, 9-11, 11-2 (68m)
Andrew Widdison (Yorks) bt Taminder Gata-Aura (Yorks) 11-5, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6 (42m)
Kevin Moran (Scotland) bt David Barnett (Northumbria) 12-10, 11-9, 11-9 (41m)
James Earles (Yorks) bt Tom Ford (Glos) 2-11, 11-2, 11-13, 11-9, 11-7 (60m)
Stuart Crawford (Scotland) bt Matthew Sidaway (Lancs) 9-11, 14-12, 11-13, 12-10, 12-10 (72m)
 


Women's Main Draw
Round One Quarters Semis Final

[1] Jenny Duncalf (Yorks)
w/o
[Q] Laura Hill (Derbys)

Laura Hill
12-10, 11-9, 11-2 (32m)
Lauren Briggs
Lauren Briggs
11-4, 11-2, 11-6 (26m)
Alison Waters
Alison Waters
11-2, 11-9, 8-11, 11-4 (53m)
Laura Massaro

[7] Lauren Briggs (Essex)
11-7, 11-2, 11-5 (23m)
[Q] Julianne Courtice (Warks)

[4] Sarah Kippax (Ches)
11-4, 12-10, 11-5 (30m)
Lisa Aitken (Sco)

Sarah Kippax
11-5, 11-4, 11-8 (31m)
Alison Waters

[8] Alison Waters (Middx)
11-2, 11-5, 11-2 (18m)
[Q] Kirsty McPhee (Yorks)

Deon Saffery (Wales)
11-4, 11-7, 11-6 (24m)
[6] Victoria Lust (Beds)

Victoria Lust
11-3, 11-2, 11-4 (19m)
Laura Massaro
Laura Massaro
11-4, 11-9, 11-3 (37m)

Madeline Perry

[Q] Amina Helal (Lancs)
11-3, 11-5, 11-2 (18m)
[3] Laura Massaro (Lancs)

Tesni Evans (Wal)
11-8, 7-11, 11-2, 13-11 (57m)
[5] Emma Beddoes (Warks)

Emma Beddoes
13-11, 11-4, 11-2 (35m)
Madeline Perry
Lauren Selby (Essex)
11-3, 11-6, 11-4 (21m)
[2]
Madeline Perry (Ireland)

Women's 2nd qualifying round:
Laura Mylotte (Cheshire) bt Rachael Chadwick (Cheshire) 11-7, 11-3, 11-9 (23m)
Julianne Courtice (Glos) bt Alicia Mead (Warwicks) 11-1, 11-8, 14-12 (21m)
Harriet Ingham (Surrey) bt Rachel Willmott (Sussex) 12-10, 11-7, 11-8 (23m)
Amina Helal (Lancs) bt Jessica Davis (Cheshire) w/o
Kirsty McPhee (Yorks) bt Anna Kimberley (Essex) 11-6, 11-5, 11-5 (26m)
Leonie Holt (Warwicks) bt Martha Possegger (Sussex) w/o
Kirsty West (Cheshire) bt Georgina Ingham (Surrey) 9-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-7 (28m)
Laura Hill (Derbyshire) bt Katrina Burrows (Merseyside) 11-4, 11-1, 11-4 (18m)

Qualifying finals:
Julianne Courtice (Glos) bt Laura Mylotte (Cheshire) 11-9, 12-10, 11-6 (27m)
Amina Helal (Lancs) bt Harriet Ingham (Surrey) 11-8, 11-3, 11-7 (20m)
Kirsty McPhee (Yorks) bt Leonie Holt (Warwicks) 12-10, 8-11, 11-9, 11-3 (40m)
Laura Hill (Derbyshire) bt Kirsty West (Cheshire) 11-4, 11-7, 11-3 (30m)
 

Final       click on images for larger view
 

Nick Matthew & Laura Massaro Win National Titles

Nick Matthew prevailed in the historic men's British National Championship final between the top two players in the world when he beat fellow Yorkshireman James Willstrop in an 81-minute display of dazzling world class squash at the National Squash Centre in Manchester.

The 31-year-old from Sheffield went into the match against Leeds-based Willstrop boasting a 31-9 career head-to-head advantage - with a winning streak of 18 matches over the past four years.

But 28-year-old Willstrop has hit the best form of his career recently - leading to taking over as world number one last month.

Matthew, who regained the world's top ranking this month, admitted that he had to play some of the best squash of his career to fend off his county rival in the much-touted national final.

After taking the first two games and leading in the third, Matthew was unable to prevent Willstrop recover to reduce the deficit - and, in the fourth, move to within a point of forcing a decider.

But after a series of stunning rallies and on his third match ball, Matthew clinched an 11-8, 11-3, 6-11, 14-12 victory after 81 minutes to win a record-equalling fourth title.

"James put up an amazing fight, as always," Matthew told the packed Manchester crowd afterwards. "People talk about his racket skills, but he's also the most determined player I've played. It was just brutal.

"Everyone talks about the rivalry, but there's also a great deal of respect between us."

Matthew reached last year's final, as expected, but lost out to England team-mate Daryl Selby.

"It was one of the biggest disappointments of my career - losing the title last year.

"Tonight, I feel I played the best squash of my career for the first two and a half games.

"It means a lot to me to win the title for a record-equalling fourth time," added Matthew.

Willstrop, who this week also launched his autobiography "Shot and a Ghost", was not wholly downhearted: "I was disappointed not to win, but not disappointed in my performance.

"I'm not worried about what happened score-wise - it's more about what's happening in the match and making sure that I'm in it," explained the world number two and twice former champion.

"People keep mentioning the run - and that's great. But the key thing is my squash maintains a high standard and I give it my best."

 

Laura Massaro became the first player to successfully defend the women's title for eight years when she beat Londoner Alison Waters 11-2, 11-9, 8-11, 11-4.

Waters, a former world No3, was making a comeback after Achilles surgery and was returning to competitive action for the first time since the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India.

Massaro took the opening two games and led 7-4 in the third. But Waters rediscovered her former form to come back to take the game before the 28-year-old from Preston took control in the fourth to close out the match after 53 minutes.

"The national title is huge for all British players - there are some big names on that trophy," said the exuberant Massaro after her second successive title.

"To be able to win it last year was special, so to do it again is fantastic.

"I was disappointed not to defend my title in Cleveland (USA) last month, so it is good to defend this one.

"Ali was such a good player before she got that terrible injury. To get back to this level, after what she's been through last year, is incredible."

Waters was understandably disappointed: "I've got mixed feelings - I'd like to have won, of course.

"I haven't played a match like that for so long. I didn't think I played badly at all. But she's improved so much since I've been away.

"But if you'd told me at the start of the week that I'd be in the final, I would have bitten your leg off!"
 

Semi Finals          click on images for larger view

Matthew & Willstrop To Contest Historic Nationals Final

A hard-fought victory by world number one Nick Matthew over defending champion Daryl Selby in tonight's semi-finals of the British National Squash Championships at the National Squash Centre in Manchesterhas set up the first ever domestic final between the top two players in the world.

Three-time champion Matthew will face fellow Yorkshireman James Willstrop, the world No2 from Leeds who beat England team-mate Adrian Grant 11-9, 11-6, 11-9.

Lancashire's defending champion Laura Massaro will face Londoner Alison Waters in the women's final. In the first semi, world No3 Massaro saw off Irish rival Madeline Perry 11-4, 11-9, 11-3. Later Waters romped to an 11-4, 11-2, 11-6 victory over Essex's Lauren Briggs.

James Willstrop claimed the first men's semi-final slot after his revenge victory over left-hander Grant. The Yorkshireman boasted a 6/2 career head-to-head record over Grant, but the Londoner came out on top the last time they met - on the same Manchester all-glass court five months ago.

It was neck and neck up to five-all in the first game before top seed Willstrop moved ahead to game ball at 10-6. Grant was able to save three, but Willstrop stopped the rot to take the game - and then the second to lead 2/0.

Grant had several leads in the third and saved one match ball at 10-8 before a miss hit by the left-hander gave Willstrop an 11-9, 11-6, 11-9 victory after 54 minutes.

"Adrian made it really hard as he plays well on this court. I had to really be on my game, I had to push. He beat me the last time on this court," said Willstrop, now in his fifth final.

"It means a lot to be in the final - it's such a prestigious event. All the players enjoy coming back here - it's great to come and show people what it's all about.
"It's fantastic to be back in the final again after a couple of years," Willstrop continued. "I'm playing well and feeling good. Hopefully I can put on a good show tomorrow."
After being in control for the first two games against title-holder Selby, 31-year-old Matthew saved a game ball in the third before closing out the match 11-8, 11-3, 14-12 to avenge his shock defeat in last year's final.

The third game was full of drama and debate with the referee. Matthew led 5-1, but Selby dig deep to claw back the deficit before moving 8-5 up.

The second seed from Sheffield then took four points in a row before putting the ball into the tin to hand the advantage back to Selby. But a stroke led Matthew to match-ball - and a series of lengthy and dramatic rallies, including several unpopular decisions from the officials - before Selby gained his own game ball.

And, after numerous attempts to close out his third match ball at 13-12, Matthew finally clinched victory after 67 minutes to move into his fifth national final.

"He seems to get better when he's behind," said Matthew post-match. "He's like a dog with a bone.

"But all credit to him - he's the defending champion and wanted to keep that trophy.
"Last year, he deservedly won the title - and I took it on the chin. I bounced back strong immediately afterwards and doubled my determination to get back this year and win it back.

"There's been talk all week about the final between me and James - and now we've done all the work to set it up. I'm looking forward to it."

Laura Massaro, the world No3 from Preston who last year became the first Lancashire winner of the women's title, moved into her third final after seeing off Irish rival Madeline Perry, the world No4, 11-4, 11-9, 11-3.

After winning the 2011 national crown, 28-year-old Massaro went on to enjoy the best year of her career - leaping from ten to three in the rankings and winning the 'WISPA Player of the Year' award ahead of the record six-time world champion.

The head-to-head record between the semi-finalists showed Massaro 8/6 ahead, with the champion beating Perry en-route to her Manchester success last year - but Perry came out on top most recently in Singapore last July.

But Massaro put in a commanding performance - leaping to a 9-0 lead in a one-sided first game before going behind in the second as Perry changed her tactics. The local star then won five points in a row to retake the lead - and led throughout the third before closing out the match in 37 minutes.

"I managed to stay strong," said Massaro. "It was much tougher than it might look from the scoreline - I'm really glad I came through 3/0.

"The second was brutal - she was 6-3 up and we had a really hard rally and I broke my racket. But I managed to push on.

"Madeline is such a tough competitor - that match was never easy, even though it was 3/0.

"The event has such a rich history - and it's good to get your name on that trophy alongside all those greats. I want to get as many titles as I can before I retire."
Perry, who was celebrating her 35th birthday, admitted: "I felt old! It certainly wasn't the best birthday present!"

When asked to sum uo the match, the 13-time Irish champion said: "I just didn't expect her to go short so early. In the second game I moved up the court and managed to push her back - but I made a couple errors at crucial times.
"It didn't feel as if I was playing well on that court."

Winner of the National title in 2008 and 2010, Alison Waters suffered an Achilles injury in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India and, after failing to respond to treatment, underwent surgery in May last year. After a long period of rehabilitation - during which her world ranking plummeted from three to 44 - the 27-year-old from London is making her long-awaited comeback in Manchester.

It was a spritely eighth seed Waters who despatched surprise opponent Lauren Briggs to claim her sixth appearance in the final since 2005.

"Six finals? That sounds quite good doesn't it," said Waters when reminded of her achievement.

"I really wasn't sure what would happen when I got here, but the atmosphere's been good and I've just come back into my game.

"I'm fresh and relaxed - sometimes a break makes you come back stronger.
"Laura's had a good year and reached a highest ranking of three - but I haven't played her for ages.

It's going to be tough - but I'm feeling fresh and I'm ready for it." 
 

Quarter Finals    click on images for larger view

Waters Waltzes Into Nationals Semis

Former champion Alison Waters showed that she is back in contention for another women's title when she upset Sarah Kippax, the fourth seed from Cheshire, in tonight's quarter-finals of the British National Squash Championships at the National Squash Centre in Manchester.

Winner of the title in 2008 and 2010, Waters suffered an Achilles injury in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India and, after failing to respond to treatment, underwent surgery in May last year. After a long period of rehabilitation - during which her world ranking plummeted from three to 44 - the 27-year-old from London is making her long-awaited comeback in Manchester.

Eighth seed Waters was on song from the outset and after 31 minutes wrapped up her 11-5, 11-4, 11-8 victory.

"I was a bit nervous to start with, but once I was into the knockup I was fine," said the Londoner, now just one win away from her sixth final appearance since 2005.

"Sarah is a great athlete and will run everything down. But there was no pressure on me to do anything.

"I feel quite close to my best - the more I play the better I feel. And I'm relaxed.

"Thankfully my injury problems are now well and truly behind me - and if I'm down in a game, I just think of what I've been through."

Kippax, the world No20 now based in Halifax, was disappointed at being lined up against her England team-mate at the last eight stage: "It was a bit of an unfortunate draw for me," said the 28-year-old.

"She seems to be playing as well as ever and taking the ball early. She put me under a lot of pressure - it was hard to find her weaknesses.

"There are a few things I could have done better - but I certainly played better than I did last year.

"It's hard to move onto the glass court from the other courts - and she's really experienced on glass.

"But I'm happy that she's back playing - and she's playing as well as she's ever done. She's certainly in with a chance of the title."

The evening's second women's quarter-final featured Lauren Briggs of Essex and Laura Hill from Derbyshire - both eager to make their semi-final debuts.

Hill, a qualifier, was marking her first appearance in the quarter-finals - a beneficiary of the mid-event withdrawal of favourite Jenny Duncalf, the world No2 from Harrogate.

Seventh seed Briggs opened up commanding leads in all three games - but had to contend with significant fightbacks by her lower-ranked opponent in the first and second before emerging victorious 12-10, 11-9, 11-2.

"You could say I'm a little bit pleased," said Briggs, beaming from ear to ear. "I'm absolutely chuffed!

"Obviously with Jenny going out it's a different scenario," continued the 32-year-old from London. "The opportunity was there but you still have to win the match. I was surprisingly relaxed before I went on, but once I got to nine I started thinking I'd won the game already - crucial error - but I managed to rectify that in the third.

"I overheard someone saying that the more you play on this court the more you like it - that's my third time and I really like it now!

"I haven't played Alison for a few years - in fact I think the last time was on this court. I got a good hiding then so hopefully I can do better tomorrow."

Defending champion Daryl Selby claimed his anticipated place in Saturday's men's semi-finals after a 50-minute battle with tall opponent Adrian Waller. The world No12 from Essex dropped a game before beating quarter-final first-timer Waller 11-1, 11-3, 11-13, 11-4.

Selby, who won the 2011 title against expectations after shocking world number one Nick Matthew in the final, was full of praise for his 22-year-old opponent.

"I train with Adrian a lot so I know he's a good player," said 29-year-old Selby. "You could see he was nervous to start with - I remember that, you can't help it.

"It's another good experience for him - he's a good young player, he works hard and has a good attitude.

"I felt I played well in the first two games - but in the third he showed what he's all about and he deserved that game.

"I played well in the fourth. But I'm a bit worried that I can't seem to win 3/0!"

When asked what his last year has been like, Selby told the crowd: "It's been a fantastic year being introduced as 'British champion'.

"It would be nice to be able to say 'double champion', but it's going to be tough."

In the final match of the day, Yorkshire's world number one Nick Matthew edged closer to his fifth final in a row when he beat Chris Simpson, the No7 seed from Guernsey, 12-10, 11-4, 11-4.

Simpson, the world No48 celebrating only his second appearance in the quarter-finals, led in the first two games - but the experienced 31-year-old from Sheffield was always able to raise his game to make up the deficit before recording his expected victory in 54 minutes.

"Chris played very well - the first game was incredibly tough," said Matthew, who topped the world rankings throughout 2011.

"In fact, he reminded me of me - he's very competitive, you can't get rid of him!"

The seeding predicts an all-Yorkshire final between Matthew and world No2 James Willstrop - one which would be the first ever between the top two players in the world.

"Playing Chris reminded me that it's not all about the rivalry between me and James - there is stiff competition before that."

When asked about playing in the National Championships in Manchester, the three-time champion said: "There are not many world tour events put on as well as this - and you saw earlier how nervous Adrian Waller was, even though there are no ranking points at stake.

"That gives an idea of how important the event is," concluded Matthew.

Simpson went into the match 2/0 down on previous meetings with Matthew - but agreed that this was his best performance: "I'm happy with the way I played, but I was a bit disappointed with the way I flagged a bit at the end," said the Harrogate-based 24-year-old.

"But it's hard against him - he's just relentless. If you switch off for one second, the game goes."

Were lessons learnt from the match? "Every time you go on court with Nick you pick up something - but often you don't realise until the next time you play him.

"But perhaps the biggest thing I learnt tonight is that I can contain him. But then he comes back!"

Lancashire Lass Laura Licks Lust

Lancashire's defending champion Laura Massaro sailed into the semi-finals of the British National Squash Championships for the sixth successive year after a 19-minute rout tonight at the National Squash Centre in Manchester.

The world No3 from Preston, who last year became the first ever Lancashire player to win the women's title, crushed Bedfordshire's Victoria Lust, the sixth seed from Cheltenham,11-3, 11-2, 11-4.

"Vicky will be disappointed - she's a lot better than that," said Massaro of her 22-year-old compatriot, ranked 34 places lower in the world.

After winning the 2011 national crown, 28-year-old Massaro went on to enjoy the best year of her career - leaping from ten to three in the rankings and winning the 'WISPA Player of the Year' award ahead of the record six-time world champion.

"Last year was a phenomenal year. I worked hard on my game and improved so many parts of it.

"And if I can do it, anybody can," the modest Massaro told the enthusiastic National Squash Centre crowd.

In a repeat of the 2011 semi-final, Massaro will face 13 times Irish champion Madeline Perry, the world No4.

"Madeline's always difficult - she's such a quality player. So Saturday's semi will be difficult."

When asked whether she felt her chances were improved by the withdrawal of top seed Jenny Duncalf, Massaro replied: "I'm not thinking about the fact that Jenny has pulled out - I'm thinking about the fact that the number three and four in the world are playing in the semis.

It was a 13-11, 11-4, 11-2 win over Warwickshire's fifth seed Emma Beddoes that saw Perry into her fourth semi in a row.

"I had to be really focussed to beat Emma today," said the 34-year-old second seed from Banbridge, near Belfast. "I had to be clinical to win."

When asked how good it was to be in the semi-final again in a venue where she has had so much success, Perry replied: "I really love this court, but I think it's about time I got into a final.

"Everyone knows this is a big title, but the competition is always tough. But now that I am top seed, I can't blame anyone if I don't succeed."

In the first men's match, Londoner Adrian Grant battled for 47 minutes to see off Eddie Charlton, a quarter-final debutant from Nottingham, 11-5, 11-9, 13-11 to reach the semis for the sixth time.

"I took a while to adjust to the glass court after playing the earlier rounds on the other courts," explained the 31-year-old fourth seed. "It was a strange up-and-down game - but when I focussed on the ball, that's when I was in control."

Asked to comment on the disparity between his world ranking of 17 and his opponent's 93, Grant responded: "I don't look at the rankings - you've just got to focus on what you've got to do. The games were tough but I'm glad I got through 3/0.

"Eddie's playing higher than his ranking - it shows how strong it is down the order. If he carries on like this he'll be one to watch."

Runner-up in 2009, Grant has yet to become champion. "Winning the title would be huge. Even in the junior days you're thinking of winning the senior title. There are some big names on that trophy - and even to win it once would be massive. I'll give everything to win it!"

Charlton, the 14th seed who earned his quarter-final place after the last-minute withdrawal of fifth seed Tom Richards, was disappointed with his performance.

"It was a bit of an anticlimax not playing Tom in the earlier round - I was looking forward to having a shot at him," said the 23-year-old.

"I didn't play quite as well as I can do tonight - he's a tough opponent but I just didn't play my best game.

"But it was a great experience playing on the glass court. This is where I want to be!"

Later Grant's semi-final opponent was decided when favourite James Willstrop recovered from a game down to beat sixth seed Chris Ryder 8-11, 11-3, 11-3, 11-1 in 43 minutes.

"The first two games were really well-contested," said Willstrop, the 28-year-old top seed who celebrated a career-high world number one ranking in January. "There were some really intense rallies and he played some unbelievable drop shots."

Ryder, the world No39 from Leamington Spa, was celebrating only his second appearance in the event's quarter-finals.

On his semi-final clash with Grant on Saturday, Willstrop added: "I've got to be totally on my game. His squash is good - he's shown recently that he can compete with anyone."

2nd Round

Willstrop Whipps Andy Into Shape In Manchester

Top-seeded Yorkshireman James Willstrop brushed aside career-long Cheshire rival Andy Whipp in just 24 minutes in today's second round of the British National Squash Championships to celebrate his tenth successive quarter-final appearance in the premier domestic event at the National Squash Centre in Manchester.

Bidding to win the title for a third time since 2007, the world No2 from Leeds defeated Manchester-based Whipp 11-4, 11-3, 11-9.

It was a blow for the 30-year-old local hero who stated 24 hours earlier that he was "desperate to get into the quarter-finals one year".

The pair met countless times as juniors, including in the British Junior U19 National Championship final.

"It's ridiculous how many times we've played each other - but it's the first time for a while," said Willstrop.

"I had to raise my game a notch as Andy's a good player. I did what I had to do. I expect he was a bit jaded after the long match he had yesterday."

"It'll be good to get on the glass court tomorrow - but it's not that new anymore, and it's had a lot of squash played on it now. But I'll give it the respect it deserves," concluded Willstrop.

Whipp was not only battling a considerably higher-ranked opponent, but a much taller one too.

"Those courts are so difficult to play on," said the disappointed former world No64. "The only way you can get the ball to the back of the court is to hit it gently and high - but he's so tall!"

Willstrop will now take on sixth seed Chris Ryder, the former world university champion from Leamington Spa who beat Gloucestershire's Anthony Graham 11-5, 11-6, 11-4.

Londoner Adrian Grant, the 2009 runner-up, made up for the disappointment of a second round exit last year by reaching the quarter-finals for the eighth time after defeating fellow left-hander Robbie Temple, the ninth seed from Gloucestershire, 11-7, 11-8, 11-6 in 48 minutes.

"Everybody knows that these courts are very lively and bouncy - so you've actually got to play better squash on them to beat your opponents," said the 31-year-old world No17. "My main focus was to hit the four corners well - nothing in the middle.

"It's one of the best venues we play in, with a special atmosphere - and it's a strong event, just like a PSA tournament.

"But without doubt, I want to win this title."

Grant will play Eddie Charlton, the 14th seed from Nottingham who earned his maiden appearance in the event's last eight after opponent Tom Richards, the fifth seed from Surrey, was forced to withdraw with a foot injury.

Guernsey-born Chris Simpson earned his second successive quarter-final berth with a hard-fought 11-4, 11-8, 11-8 victory over 20-year-old Charles Sharpes.

"I felt I had him doing a lot more work than I did," explained the Harrogate-based No7 seed later. "I had to contain him.

"I'm pleased to be in my second quarter-final. I had a bit of a poor spell in September and October but I've been really happy with my form since then and have had some good wins.

"Harrogate is attracting more and more players and there's a good atmosphere there - my coach David Pearson seems to have got a new lease of life and it's showing in his players."

Title-holder Daryl Selby was taken to four games by Joel Hinds before beating the 11th seed from Derbyshire 11-9, 13-11, 6-11, 11-8. The world No12 from Brentwood will now take on tall Hertfordshire opponent Adrian Waller - who celebrated his first appearance in the last eight after beating Surrey's Joe Lee 10-12, 11-7, 11-6, 11-8.

In the last match of the day world number one Nick Matthew found himself a game down against Shropshire's Jaymie Haycocks, but pulled through to win 9-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-4.

"I thought I played well, especially in the first," said Haycocks, from Telford. "But then he stepped it up a bit and was a lot more clinical when I gave him anything loose.

"I opened up the court a bit too much and wasn't as patient as I'd been in the early part of the match and as soon as he got confident it became very tough.

"It's the first time I've played him and I'm happy with how I played - maybe a little disappointed that I made it too easy for him in patches but I thoroughly enjoyed it," added the Birmingham-based 28-year-old.

Laura Massaro, who became Lancashire's first winner of the women's title last year, eased into the quarter-finals of the other event after beating county colleague Amina Helal 11-3, 11-5, 11-2.

"It's nice to get the tournament underway - and I'm really happy to get a good first win," said 28-year-old Massaro. "Amina and I played a lot as juniors but we haven't played for ages.

"The start of last year gave me a lot of confidence, first beating Nicol David for the first time, then coming here and winning the title. It gave me belief in myself - and going from ten in the world in January to three in December was unbelievable. It boosted my confidence and made me realise that I can get to semi-finals and finals.

"This year I'm going to do my best to defend the title - but there are tough opponents ahead and no easy matches - everybody is training hard. But then again here is no reason why I can't do it again," concluded the Lancashire lass.

The event suffered another disappointment later in the day when Yorkshire favourite Jenny Duncalf announced that she would be unable to take any further part due to a groin injury sustained while warming up for the match.

Laura Hill, a Derbyshire fire-fighter for the past 12 years, will now take up the quarter-final berth where she will meet Lauren Briggs, the No7 seed who despatched Gloucester qualifier Julianne Courtice 11-7, 11-2, 11-5.

 

1st Round

Champion Selby Settles Into Title Defence In Manchester

Daryl Selby, the 29-year-old from Essex who became the surprise winner of the men's British National Squash Championship title last year, successfully began the defence of his crown in Manchester today with a four-game win over Gloucestershire qualifier Nathan Lake at the National Squash Centre.

The world No12 from Brentwood recovered from dropping the second game to beat Cheltenham-based Lake 11-7, 7-11, 11-5, 11-5 in 40 minutes.

"It's nice to play the first match as defending champion," said the third seed. "Nathan is a good young player - he played some good shots and certainly deserved that second game. That court was quite bouncy - you have to attack on there. You try not to play every match for an hour as it's going to be a long week.

"It doesn't feel too much different really, being defending champion. But it's nice to see myself on the poster - that IS different!"

When asked what the most significant benefit of the title has been, Selby replied: "I guess it's being introduced as the current British champion. All around the world that carries some weight as everybody knows how strong we are, not just the English, but Welsh, Scottish and Irish too.

"It's been an honour and a privilege to have that title and I'm going to do my best to defend it." Selby continued. "But whoever does win it will deserve it, as there are some good players here."

Manchester squash veteran Andy Whipp had to fight for his life in the opening round. Marking his tenth successive appearance in the event, the 30-year-old 12th seed faced teenager Declan James. The 18-year-old underdog from Nottingham recovered from losing the first game to win the next two - before moving ahead in the fourth to within two points of victory.

But Whipp dug deep to draw level then maintained a lead in the decider before closing out the match 11-5, 12-14, 6-11, 11-9, 11-7 after 67 minutes.

"He played well," conceded the local hero, a former world No64. "I was carrying a little groin injury so was really nervous about losing today. I'm just relieved to get through - I didn't feel confident in my running or hitting."

James had just returned from Chennai in India where he helped England win the bronze medal in the WSF U21 World Cup. "I was 9-7 up in the fourth and choked. I got desperate and thought about winning too early. I felt strong mentally but physically I was a bit slow and tired - because of all the travelling.

"Chennai was a great experience - I've never had the opportunity to play on such a big stage before - the atmosphere there was ridiculous," added James, who arrived back in the UK on Monday, but his racket bag was delayed and only turned up at the venue less than hour before today's match!

Whipp now faces James Willstrop, the No1 seed from Yorkshire who topped the world rankings last month. "I'm desperate to get into the quarter-finals one year," continued Whipp. "But I've got James next so it might be difficult this time.

"James and I went through juniors together and there was one year when I played him about 18 times - but it's been about four years since I last played him."

Willstrop dropped a game before overcoming Scottish qualifier Kevin Moran 11-3, 9-11, 11-4, 11-4. It was the former champion's first appearance in Manchester since admitting that that a shock early exit in last year's event almost led him to quit the sport.

"I've not seen Kevin before," said the 28-year-old from Leeds who became world No1 last month. "I was quite happy with the way it went. It's not such a bad thing dropping a game - it helps you concentrate and get your focus, and it gives you extra time on court."

Yorkshireman Simon Parke, a former world No3 who made his Nationals debut 25 years ago, was back in action yesterday against Surrey's Charles Sharpes, aged just 20. The youngster held his nerve to see off Parke, who will be 40 this year, 11-6, 11-9, 11-7 in 44 minutes.

"He was too quick," said a weary Parke, the 1998 champion who first reached the final in 1991, the year before Sharpes was born. "I just enjoy competing - but he was just too good. I really rate him, he's going to be a good player."

Surrey-based Sharpes was also full of praise for Parke: "I've got so much respect for him - he's still playing fantastic squash," said the 13th seed, who also competed in the U21 World Cup.

"I felt good - even after India - and now look forward to playing Chris Simpson tomorrow."

In one of the last matches of the day, second seed Nick Matthew began his bid to win the title for a fourth time since 2006. The 31-year-old from Sheffield, now back at the top of the world rankings, beat fellow Yorkshireman James Earles, a 19-year-old qualifier from Hull, 11-4, 11-5, 11-6.

"It's always good to get the first one out of the way," said Matthew, who is expected to line up against Willstrop in the first ever National final between the top two players in the world.

 

Previews and Qualifying Reports

Scots Rule In British Nationals Qualifiers

There will now be Scottish interest in the British National Squash Championships, which get underway in Manchester tomorrow, after Kevin Moran and Stuart Crawford claimed dramatic successes in today's men's qualifying finals at the National Squash Centre.

Moran, a 21-year-old from Edinburgh who has never played in the event before, beat experienced Northumbrian David Barnett 12-10, 11-9, 11-9 - and was then drawn to face favourite James Willstrop.

Yorkshireman Willstrop had earlier revealed that a shock early exit in last year's event almost led him to quit the sport. "I felt genuinely happy to be out of the event," said the former champion after losing to a lower-ranked fellow countryman in the quarter-finals.

"At this stage I am too far gone," he continued. "Perhaps, because of my appetite for achievement, I have lost some of the love of playing that I had as a child."

Willstrop reveals these feelings in his autobiography Shot and a Ghost which will be launched this week.

Moran perhaps wishes he had quit - as Willstrop overcame his career-low and went on to win three major international events at the end of last year and begin the New Year as world number one.

Moran, ranked 180 in the world, and will now meet Willstrop at 2pm on Tuesday.

Crawford became the oldest player to qualify after surviving his second marathon of the day. The 30-year-old from Edinburgh first beat Derbyshire's 17-year-old Ashley Davies 8-11, 10-12, 11-7, 11-4, 11-4 in 56 minutes - and then battled for a further 72 minutes to see off Manchester-based Matthew Sidaway 9-11, 14-12, 11-13, 12-10, 12-10 to earn his third appearance in the championship since 2008

Crawford will face Gloucestershire left-hander Robbie Temple, the ninth seed.

Willstrop, the 28-year-old from Leeds who succeeded England team-mate Nick Matthew as world number one has now seen his Yorkshire rival reclaim pole position in the latest February list.

Matthew is expected to line up against Willstrop in Sunday's final - which would be the first ever between the top two players in the world.

Matthew also meets a qualifier in the first round - fellow Yorkshireman James Earles who beat Gloucestershire's Tom Ford 2-11, 11-2, 11-13, 11-9, 11-7 in exactly one hour. The 19-year-old from Hull is ranked 200 in the world.

 

Willstrop Back In Manchester After Almost Quitting

A year after almost quitting the sport, Yorkshire's world number two James Willstrop is back in Manchester this week where he is seeded to win the 2012 British National Squash Championships at the National Squash Centre.

It was at last year's event that the 28-year-old from Leeds suffered a shock quarter-final defeat - and later admitted he "felt genuinely happy to be out of the event.

"At this stage I am too far gone," he said following his early exit. "Perhaps, because of my appetite for achievement, I have lost some of the love of playing that I had as a child."

Willstrop reveals these feelings in his autobiography Shot and a Ghost which will be launched this week.

But, in a remarkable turnaround, Willstrop went on to finish 2011 with the best run of his career - winning three elite PSA World Series events in succession in Hong Kong, Kuwait and India, which took him to number one in the world rankings in January.

The ranking led Willstrop to claim top seeding in this week's Nationals. But his greatest rival, the fellow Yorkshireman Nick Matthew, has now reclaimed the world No1 spot and is expected to line up against Willstrop in Sunday's British final - the first between the top two players in the world.

The 2012 British National Squash Championships get underway tomorrow (Tuesday) and will be celebrating the 16th successive year in Manchester - and its tenth appearance at the National Squash Centre, the unique venue which was built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games and boasts a permanently-sited all-glass court.

Both Willstrop and Matthew face qualifiers in the first round.

A last-minute change in the men's draw was made today following the withdrawal of third seed Peter Barker, the world No7 from London with a knee injury. Defending champion Daryl Selby moves up to third seed and fellow Londoner Adrian Grant is elevated to No4 seed.

Gloucestershire Anthony Graham now becomes the 16th seed - and, as the qualifying event is already underway, Derbyshire's 11th seed Joel Hinds will await a 'Lucky Loser'.

 

Yorkshire's World Stars Matthew & Willstrop Set Sights On National Glory

Just two weeks after battling for the world number one ranking in New York, Yorkshiremen James Willstrop and Nick Matthew will bid for domestic glory in the anticipated men's final of the British National Squash Championships in Manchester.

In last week's first ever all-English final of the prestigious PSA World Series Tournament of Champions at Grand Central Station, Sheffield-based Matthew - who topped the world rankings throughout 2011 before Willstrop replaced him in January - reclaimed pole position after overcoming his Leeds rival in a dramatic 85-minute climax.

The 2012 British National Squash Championships, from 7-12 February (following qualifying the previous two days), will be celebrating its 16th successive year in Manchester and its tenth appearance at the National Squash Centre, the unique venue which was built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games and boasts a permanently-sited all-glass court.

In the draws revealed today, both Willstrop and Matthew face qualifiers in the first round en-route to the predicted men's final which would be the first in the event's 38-year history to feature the top two players in the world.

Willstrop, twice winner of the title, is the event's the top seed. The 28-year-old, who surprisingly crashed out at the quarter-final stage last year, is expected to meet seventh seed Chris Ryder, the former world university champion from Leamington Spa, in the quarter-finals before a predicted clash with career-long rival and England team-mate Peter Barker in the semis.

Barker, the world No7 from London, is the third seed and opens his 2012 campaign against Yorkshireman Neil Cordell.

Second seed Matthew has an anticipated quarter-final clash with Guernsey-born Chris Simpson, the world No52 from Harrogate. Champion on three previous occasions - in 2006, 2009 & 2010 - the 31-year-old is expected to face fourth seed Daryl Selby in the semi-finals.

It was 29-year-old from Essex who shocked the country - if not the world - by toppling Matthew in last year's final to become men's champion for the first time. Selby, ranked 11 in the world, begins the defence of his title against a qualifier.

Lurking near the bottom of the men's draw is Yorkshireman Simon Parke, the only other former champion in the 2012 field. The now retired former world No3, who will celebrate his 40th birthday later this year, made his British Nationals' debut in 1987 - and won the title for the only time 11 years later.

In his 19th appearance in the event, Parke will face 14th seed Charles Sharpes, a 19-year-old from Surrey who was born in 1992 - the year after Parke first appeared in the final!

The women's title is also expected to go to Yorkshire: Jenny Duncalf, the top seed from Harrogate, is expected to reach her fifth final in six years. Ranked two in the world, 29-year-old Duncalf opens her bid against a qualifier and is expected to line up against England team-mate Sarah Kippax, the Halifax-based No4 seed from Cheshire, in the semi-finals.

Local hopes will be led by third seed Laura Massaro, the world No4 from Preston who last year became Lancashire's first winner of the title.

Third seed Massaro begins the defence of her title against a qualifier, and faces her toughest opponent in the predicted semi-final in the lower half of the draw against second seed Madeline Perry.

The world No3 from Banbridge, near Belfast, is hoping to become Ireland's first ever winner of the title. Perry plays Lauren Selby - sister of the men's champion - in the opening round before her expected meeting in the final against Duncalf.

But, despite winning her 13th Irish national title in December, Perry has yet to reach a British final.

More than 340 players will converge on Manchester, not only for the two main open events but a full range of men's and women's Masters events, from Over-35 to Over-75.

World's Top Two Line Up In Historic British Championships

For the first time in the event's 38-year history, the two top players in the world will battle for Britain's premier squash title when James Willstrop and Nick Matthew line up in next month's British National Championships in Manchester.

The 2012 British National Squash Championships, from 7-12 February (following qualifying the previous two days), will be celebrating its 16th successive year in Manchester and its tenth appearance at the National Squash Centre, the unique venue which was built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games and boasts a permanently-sited all-glass court.

More than 340 players will converge on Manchester, not only for the two main open events but a full range of men's and women's Masters events, from Over-35 to Over-75.

James Willstrop, the world number one from Leeds, will be top seed in the men's championship, while fellow Yorkshire player Jenny Duncalf, who celebrated her 22nd successive month as world No2 this month, will be favourite for the women's event.

Nick Matthew, three times winner of the National title (in 2006, 2009 & 2010), topped the world rankings throughout 2011. But the 31-year-old from Sheffield was replaced this month by fellow Yorkshireman Willstrop - giving England the top two players in the world rankings for the first time since 2004.

With two national titles to his credit (in 2007 & 2008), 28-year-old Willstrop boasts four appearances in the men's final, while Matthew followed his third title two years ago by reaching the final last year - but suffered a surprise defeat to Essex's Daryl Selby.

Defending champion Selby, the world No11, will be the No4 seed next month, with his county compatriot Peter Barker, ranked four places higher in the world, seeded three.

Jenny Duncalf will be seeking her third title after winning the women's championship in 2007 & 2009. But the 29-year-old from Harrogate has finished as runner-up for the last two years - in 2010 to Londoner Alison Waters, this year's eighth seed, and last year to local star Laura Massaro, the 28-year-old from Preston who became Lancashire's first ever winner of the women's title.

After her Nationals' success, title-holder Massaro went on to enjoy a magnificent run on the women's international tour - finishing the year at a career-high world No3.

But the player seeded to meet favourite Duncalf in the final is Ireland's Madeline Perry who, despite winning her 13th Irish national title in December, has yet to reach a British final. Currently ranked three in the world, Perry beat Duncalf en-route to reaching this month's Women's World Series Finals final and could become Ireland's first ever British champion.

Men's top 8 seeds:
1 James Willstrop (Yorks), 2 Nick Matthew (Yorks), 3 Peter Barker (Essex), 4 Daryl Selby (Essex), 5 Adrian Grant (Kent), 6 Tom Richards (Surrey), 7 Chris Ryder (Herts), 8 Chris Simpson (Hants)

Women's top 8 seeds:
1 Jenny Duncalf (Yorks), 2 Madeline Perry (Ireland), 3 Laura Massaro (Lancs), 4 Sarah Kippax (Cheshire), 5 Emma Beddoes (Warwicks), 6 Victoria Lust (Beds), 7 Lauren Briggs (Essex), 8 Alison Waters (Middx)