World Champion Palmer In Rare Double Bid In Dunlop British Open At Nottingham
13 Sep 2006
Australia's David Palmer arrives in Nottingham this week for the Dunlop British Open with a double in his sights.
The 30-year-old from Lithgow in New South Wales won the World Open crown earlier this month, and now aims to be the first man since 1996 to also win the British Open title in the same year. Palmer would be only the fourth player in squash history to achieve this, after compatriot Geoff Hunt and legendary Pakistanis Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan.
Staged at the University of Nottingham for the first time, the historic British Open - with roots back to the early 1920s and including world-class men's, women's and masters events - gets underway on Friday, leading to finals next Monday. The prestigious event will feature the first all-glass court ever to be seen at the University.
Palmer, a three-times winner of the British Open crown (in 2001, 2003 and 2004 - the second two also in Nottingham), survived the most dramatic final in the history of the World Open, coming back from two games down, and saving five match balls, to beat young Frenchman Gregory Gaultier in one of the longest finals on record.
"I always seem to struggle in finals, and didn't play that well in the final - but thought I played exceptionally well in my earlier matches against Anthony Ricketts and Thierry Lincou," explained the two-times world champion on the eve of the British Open.
"I feel I played well on the big points. I wasn't going to hand it over - it's not over till the last point's won! It's not about playing good squash, but winning the points - and I guess that's what champions are made of.
"I'm very proud of my performance, considering that I took three months off, and only had 10 days working with my coach Shaun Moxham. Normally it takes a few tournaments to work your way back into it," explained the world number two, the second seed in Nottingham.
Palmer enjoyed a life-changing experience in June with the birth of his first child, daughter Kayla, at home in Australia.
"She's had a huge impact on my life - for the past ten years squash has been my whole life. People say I'm more relaxed, and perhaps I am," suggested Palmer.
While many of his fellow players were probably admiring the Pyramids during the World Open in Giza, Palmer could be found staring at the computer screen in his room, hooked up to a webcam focussed on his baby daughter on the other side of the world.
"I hate being away from her - but today's technology helps. I can see her every day, wherever I am, just by switching on my laptop and looking at her on the webcam. It really relaxes me and takes the pressure off," explained the squash star.
Palmer's wife Mel and Kayla will be in Nottingham during the British Open: "Having Kayla with me will be a huge advantage - it'll be the first time she's been to an event. Being able to go back and relax with her after my matches will be fantastic."
Palmer begins his bid to win a third British Open title in the East Midlands city with a first round match against England's 19-year-old Chris Simpson, the British Junior champion from Guernsey who has been given a wild card into the event.
"I guess I should consider myself lucky, facing the wildcard player in the first round. It'll be a big match for him, no doubt - but I won't underestimate him," said the Australian who celebrated his 40th PSA Tour final appearance in Egypt.
"I've got a few days to freshen up before the British Open, and I'm really looking forward to going for the double - which hasn't been done since the Jansher/Jahangir days. It would definitely be good to get close to the Khans!
"I feel confident - and winning the Worlds takes the pressure off me - I've got nothing to lose. If I won a fourth title, it would really put me amongst an elite group of former champions - and that would be excellent.
"I've won it a few times before - but most of the other guys haven't. I just hope I can reproduce the form I had in Egypt," concluded Palmer.