Willstrop & Selby Raise Home Hopes In ROWE British Grand Prix

England team-mates James Willstrop and Daryl Selby ensured domestic interest in tomorrow’s (Saturday) quarter-finals of the ROWE British Grand Prix Squash Championship after straight games successes in the second round of the $92,500 PSA Super Series event – the biggest in Europe this year – being staged at the National Squash Centre inManchester.

Selby, the No7 seed from Essex who broke into the world top ten this year, was looking for his first Tour win over English rival Alister Walker after defeats in their two previous Tour clashes.

And the world number nine finally made his breakthrough with an 11-5, 11-4, 11-9 win over Walker, the Leeds-based world No17 from Gloucestershire.

“To get Alister in three games is no mean feat,” said the jubilant 27-year-old. “I want to do well in this tournament, and if I carry on playing like that, anything can happen.”

Selby feels he is back on track after a shock defeat to lower-ranked fellow countryman Tom Richards in the first round of the Australian Open last month. “That gave me quite a kick start as I was playing well – but he played better and thoroughly deserved the win.

“In hindsight, it perhaps did me some good, as I’ve been playing better since then – sometimes you can learn more from a loss than a win. You can turn a negative into a positive.

“Perhaps I owe Tom a vote of thanks,” added Selby.

Willstrop, the fifth seed from Leeds, battled for 45 minutes to quash Manchester-based Australian Stewart Boswell 11-6, 11-9, 11-9.

“Stewart is not only very good, but experienced too. I know him pretty well – we train together a lot

When asked what are his goals, Willstrop replied: “Kuwait, Qatar, India, Egypt,” referring to the locations of the PSA Super Series events which follow the British Grand Prix.

“To win a Super Series event is huge,” admitted the 27-year-old Yorkshireman. “And of course there’s the Commonwealth Games, and finally the World Open,” added the former world No2.

Does the current world No6 yearn to reclaim his No2 position – then move on to become the world’s top-ranked player? “I concentrate on the tournaments – I don’t think too much about rankings. Do well in the tournaments and hopefully the rankings will follow!”

Winner of the opening PSA Super Series event of the year in New York, Willstrop is now poised to exploit the gap in the field left by the withdrawal through illness of compatriot Nick Matthew, the world No2.

Willstrop, a finalist in his previous two appearances on the all-glass Manchester court, will now meet Pontefract club training partner Saurav Ghosal, the 14th seed from India who ousted Guernsey-born qualifier Chris Simpson 11-4, 7-11, 14-12, 11-4.

“It’s my first quarter-final in a Super Series event – I am so happy,” said the Calcutta-born 24-year-old who is India’s highest-ranked player of all-time.

“Playing James is always a pleasure. I’ve learned so much from him. I’m going to try and play the best I can – hopefully we’ll play some good squash,” added the world No26.

Gregory Gaultier became one of two Frenchmen to make the last eight when he beat England left-hander Adrian Grant, the No9 seed. Gaining revenge for an acrimonious clash on the same court in the Manchester World Open almost two years ago, Gaultier beat London-born Grant 11-4, 6-11, 11-6, 11-9 in 75 minutes.

“I knew Adrian would be up for it as he’s had some good results – and he would want to play well in front of his home crowd,” said the Frenchman. “I managed to push hard in the fourth to close the match. I wanted to make him work hard.

“I’m happy to go through. I played really well in Australia and Hong Kong – that built up my confidence,” added the 27-year-old from Aix-en-Provence who is bidding to return to the form which saw him reach No1 in the world rankings in November last year.

Gaultier will be joined in the last eight by fellow countryman Thierry Lincou, the sixth seed who fought for exactly an hour to quash rising Egyptian Mohd Ali Anwar Reda, the 15th seed, 11-9, 5-11, 11-7, 11-8.

The 34-year-old from Marseille has little to prove – having won the world title and reached world number one in his illustrious career. “My goal for this season is to qualify for the Super Series Finals. I need to be consistent and make a few quarter-finals and semi-finals.

“But I still love the game, and love the training – and I get great support from my family,” added Lincou. “But my aim isn’t to get back to world No1 – I’d like to stay in the top eight.

“And it would be nice to keep causing a few upsets!”

Lincou now lines up against Egypt’s new world number one Ramy Ashour, the 22-year-old from Cairo who ended Alan Clyne‘s run with an 11-5, 11-7, 11-4 win over the Scottish qualifier from Edinburgh.

Ashour will be joined in the quarters by fellow countryman Amr Shabana, the reigning world champion from Cairo who beat his older brother Hisham Mohd Ashour 11-7, 11-8, 6-11, 11-4.

Shabana, a four-time world champion, boasts 26 PSA Tour titles – as does his quarter-final opponent David Palmer, the eighth seed from Australia who defeated Pakistan’s Aamir Atlas Khan 11-4, 11-4, 9-11, 11-6.

ROWE British Grand Prix, Manchester, England

2nd round:
[14] Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt [Q] Chris Simpson (ENG) 11-4, 7-11, 14-12, 11-4 (55m)
[5] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [11] Stewart Boswell (AUS) 11-6, 11-9, 11-9 (45m)
[4] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [9] Adrian Grant (ENG) 11-4, 6-11, 11-6, 11-9 (75m)
[7] Daryl Selby (ENG) bt [10] Alister Walker (ENG) 11-5, 11-4, 11-9 (61m)
[8] David Palmer (AUS) bt [12] Aamir Atlas Khan (PAK) 11-4, 11-4, 9-11, 11-6 (53m)
[3] Amr Shabana (EGY) bt [13] Hisham Mohd Ashour (EGY) 11-7, 11-8, 6-11, 11-4 (38m)
[6] Thierry Lincou (FRA) bt [15] Mohd Ali Anwar Reda (EGY) 11-9, 5-11, 11-7, 11-8 (60m)
[2] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [Q] Alan Clyne (SCO) 11-5, 11-7, 11-4 (23m)

Quarter-final line-up:
[14] Saurav Ghosal (IND) v [5] James Willstrop (ENG)
[4] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v [7] Daryl Selby (ENG)
[3] Amr Shabana (EGY) v [8] David Palmer (AUS)
[2] Ramy Ashour (EGY) v [6] Thierry Lincou (FRA)

English Quintet Make British Grand Prix Last 16

A quintet of Englishmen battled through to the second round of the ROWE British Grand Prix in Manchester after successes in the opening day of action in the $92,500 PSA Super Series event, the biggest squash event in Europe this year at the National Squash Centre.

But the day’s biggest upset took place off-court when Nick Matthew, the top-ranked Englishman who was hoping to reclaim his world number one ranking following success in the sixth Super Series event of the year, was forced to pull out less than two hours before his opening match.

“During my practice session yesterday afternoon, I felt strange – my heartbeat was going at about 200 beats a minute – and by the time I got back to my hotel room I was really shivering,” Matthew told the crowd after seeing the EIS (English Institute of Sport) doctor minutes before in the same building.

“I woke in the middle of the night with a heavy fever and covered in sweat. I left it as long as I could today before making my decision, but the doctor has advised me not to play.

“I’m very disappointed to pull out,” said the clearly emotional Yorkshireman. “It’s my favourite venue and I was really looking forward to playing here.”

Later Manchester favourite James Willstrop, the No5 seed who was expected to line up against his England team-mate in the quarter-finals, pulled away from seven-all in the first game against Max Lee to beat the Hong Kong qualifier 11-7, 11-5, 11-2 in 26 minutes.

“I really feel for him – he must be feeling dreadful at the moment,” said the 27-year-old from Leeds when asked about Matthew. “Nick being out of the event is obviously a bitter blow for the tournament, but devastating for him.

“It’s the worst thing getting injured – we all feel for him, we know what it’s like!”

Asked about his match against Lee, a 22-year-old making his Tour debut in Manchester, Willstrop agreed that there are no easy games. “I had to be on my toes – it was really level at seven-all – there was not too much of a gap, to be honest.”

After suffering the worst experience of his life, causing him to be hospitalised for six days in Australia, England internationalAdrian Grant was clearly back at his best today when he despatched German opponent Jens Schoor in straight games.

It was after winning his first round match in last month’s Australian Open in Canberra that the London-born left-hander was taken ill within an hour of eating an evening meal with his England team-mates.

“I have never felt so ill – and it came on so suddenly,” said the Leeds-based former world No9 who was later diagnosed with severe gastro-enteritis, and spent six days in hospital where he lost almost a stone in weight.

“It’s the worst experience I’ve ever had – I was in an absolute mess.”

Grant then played at the Hong Kong Open, losing in the first round: “I was only playing at about 20% – I’d lost all my muscle strength.

“Getting home in itself was massive – and, with help from the EIS here in Manchester, I had a really good two weeks, building my strength back up.

“So my season starts here,” said the event’s 29-year-old ninth seed after his 11-4, 11-7, 11-4 win over wildcard Schoor. “I’m taking this as the first tournament of the season – and I’m really focussed.”

Grant will now face Gregory Gaultier after the fourth-seeded Frenchman defeated New Zealander Martin Knight 11-6, 11-2, 11-3.

The 27-year-old from Aix-en-Provence is making a notable return to form after failing to exploit his world number one ranking last November, when he slumped to sixth place within the next four months.

“The most important thing was to get myself back in shape and get my motivation back,” said Gaultier, who became the first Frenchman to win the British Open title on the same all-glass court three years ago.

“I’m looking for good times again – and I feel pretty confident,” added the world No5.

Grant was joined by two fellow Englishmen in the second round after tenth seed Alister Walker, from Leeds, beat Malaysian qualifier Ivan Yuen 11-4, 11-9, 11-5 in the opening match of the day, and Essex’s No7 seed Daryl Selbydefeated Gloucestershire qualifier Robbie Temple 11-5, 11-3, 11-2.

ROWE British Grand Prix, Manchester, England

1st round (top half of draw):
[Q] Chris Simpson (ENG) bt [1] Nick Matthew (ENG) w/o
[14] Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt Chris Ryder (ENG) 11-6, 11-4, 9-11, 11-8 (54m)
[5] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [Q] Max Lee (HKG) 11-7, 11-5, 11-2 (26m)
[11] Stewart Boswell (AUS) bt [Q] Kashif Shuja (NZL) 11-7, 11-2, 7-11, 11-13, 11-3 (57m)
[4] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Martin Knight (NZL) 11-6, 11-2, 11-3 (27m)
[9] Adrian Grant (ENG) bt Jens Schoor (GER) 11-4, 11-7, 11-4 (30m)
[7] Daryl Selby (ENG) bt [Q] Robbie Temple (ENG) 11-5, 11-3, 11-2 (38m)
[10] Alister Walker (ENG) bt [Q] Ivan Yuen (MAS) 11-4, 11-9, 11-5 (38m)

Thursday’s remaining 1st round schedule:
[12] Aamir Atlas Khan (PAK) v [Q] Amr Swelim (ITA)
[8] David Palmer (AUS) v Julian Illingworth (USA)
[13] Hisham Mohd Ashour (EGY) v Rafael F Alarcon (BRA)
[3] Amr Shabana (EGY) v Davide Bianchetti (ITA)
[15] Mohd Ali Anwar Reda (EGY) v Campbell Grayson (NZL)
[6] Thierry Lincou (FRA) v Omar Abdel Aziz (EGY)
[16] Farhan Mehboob (PAK) v [Q] Alan Clyne (SCO)
[2] Ramy Ashour (EGY) v [Q] Laurence Delasaux (ENG)