Third Time Lucky For English Pair In Liverpool
7 May 2008
It was third time lucky for Jonathan Harford and Tom Richards in today's men's qualifying finals of the Dunlop British Open at Liverpool Cricket Club when the pair made it through to the main draw of the longest-established and most prestigious event in world squash for the first time.
The 'Wimbledon' of squash - being held in Liverpool for the first time - will be staged at the new ECHO Arena Liverpool from 10-12 May, following qualifying and early rounds at the Cricket Club.
Eager to make up for the disappointment of failing to qualify for the past two years, Harford battled for 61 minutes against his 21-year-old opponent before coming through an 11-7, 7-11, 11-5, 11-5 winner.
"We actually grew up together - I met him the first time when he was three," explained Harford to the official website www.britishopensquash.com. "He is such a talented player. Did you see the shots he got - from behind him, from everywhere? He really is one of the players I want to see do well.
"Last year, I lost 3/2 in the finals of the qualifiers, so I'm so happy to qualify this year for my first British Open, and so looking forward to tomorrow," added Harford, who meets Frenchman Thierry Lincou, the sixth seed.
Tom Richards, a former England Junior International from Surrey, is fighting back to full fitness after undergoing knee surgery a year ago. The 21-year-old world No64 despatched compatriot Scott Handley - a 33-year-old from Oxfordshire making his eighth attempt to qualify - 11-3, 11-4, 11-10 (3-1) in 30 minutes.
"He was just awesome," said Handley, a former world No41, after the quickest men's match of the day. "He's the best player I've played in a long time.
"I should have had him in the third when I had a game ball - but he stepped up the pace and won the important shots."
Richards acknowledged that he's now back to the level he was before his surgery: "In fact, I'm probably stronger now - all the hard work I have done has finally kicked in," said the 21-year-old from Walton-on-Thames, who failed to qualify in both 2005 and 2006
"It's fantastic to be in the British Open for the first time. I remember watching the event, years ago in Cardiff - it's difficult to believe that I'm now in it!
"The knee is much better than I expected. I'm now just ten positions away from my best world ranking - and this result today will be a great help," said Richards, who faces fellow countryman Adrian Grant, the 12th seed.
British Open history was achieved today when Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan beat England's Shaun le Roux, from Yorkshire, 11-4, 11-9, 11-9 to ensure that three Malaysians will compete in the first round of the men's event for the first time.
"I am so happy to make it into this world-famous event for the first time," said the 22-year-old from Kuala Lumpur, who joins 10th seed Ong Beng Hee and 11th seed Mohd Azlan Iskandar in the main draw.
Nottingham-based Emma Beddoes pulled off the most notable upset in the women's qualifying event when she downed Essex's world No25 Lauren Briggs 9-1, 9-6, 3-9, 10-8 in 64 minutes to earn a place in the qualifying finals.
The Warwickshire 22-year-old will now face Madeline Perry for a place in the main draw after the Irish number one dismissed India's Joshna Chinappa 9-4, 10-8, 9-1 in just 25 minutes.
Men's qualifying finals:
Aaron Frankcomb (AUS) bt Ben Ford (ENG) 11-4, 11-6, 7-11, 11-7 (57m)
Jonathan Harford (ENG) bt Robbie Temple (ENG) 11-7, 7-11, 11-5, 11-5 (61m)
Wade Johnstone (AUS) bt Mark Fuller (ENG) 11-6, 11-9, 11-10 (3-1) (38m)
Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) bt Shaun le Roux (ENG) 11-4, 11-9, 11-9 (46m)
Jesse Engelbrecht (RSA) bt Stephen Coppinger (RSA) 4-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-10 (5-3), 11-3 (68m)
Scott Arnold (AUS) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 11-9, 11-7, 11-5 (51m)
Tom Richards (ENG) bt Scott Handley (ENG) 11-3, 11-4, 11-10 (3-1) (30m)
Farhan Mehboob (PAK) bt Campbell Grayson (NZL) 11-6, 7-11, 11-6, 11-4 (45m)
Women's 2nd qualifying round:
Madeline Perry (IRL) bt Joshna Chinappa (IND) 9-4, 10-8, 9-1 (25m)
Emma Beddoes (ENG) bt Lauren Briggs (ENG) 9-1, 9-6, 3-9, 10-8 (64m)
Engy Kheirallah (EGY) bt Delia Arnold (MAS) 9-5, 3-9, 9-3, 10-8 (85m)
Dominique Lloyd-Walter (ENG) bt Sarah Kippax (ENG) 9-0, 9-1, 9-2 (43m)
Isabelle Stoehr (FRA) bt Lauren Siddall (ENG) 10-9, 9-2, 9-0 (46m)
Jaclyn Hawkes (NZL) bt Louise Crome (NZL) 9-5, 9-3, 4-9, 9-1 (56m)
Annelize Naude (NED) bt Suzie Pierrepont (ENG) 9-6, 10-8, 4-9, 9-2 (67m)
Kasey Brown (AUS) bt Dipika Pallikal (IND) 9-2, 9-0, 9-1 (24m)