Ricketts & David Are British Open Champions
17 Oct 2005
Anthony Ricketts needed just three straight games to overcome Yorkshire's James Willstrop in tonight's men's final of the Dunlop British Open at the National Squash Centre in Manchester to keep the world's most prized trophy in Australian hands.
"I sent a text message to Geoff Hunt in Australia this morning to say that I would do my best to bring his trophy back to him," said the 26-year-old from Sydney of his Australian Institute coach, the seven-times winner of the title more than two decades ago.
Both players reached the final after strenuous marathon semi-final workouts - Ricketts removing England's twice former champion Peter Nicol and Willstrop becoming the youngest player to reach the final since the great Jansher Khan in 1987 after defeating Canada's 1999 champion Jonathon Power.
"Without doubt, it's the best moment I've had in my career," added Ricketts, after the 11-7 11-9 11-7 victory in 55 minutes which extends the time that the trophy has been in Australian hands to four of the last five years.
"The first two games were pretty crucial, but I felt stronger as the match went on," explained the world No7, who was out of the game for more than six months last year following knee surgery.
"The British Open is the event that all squash players want to win - it means the world to me to have done it."
Willstrop, the former world junior champion who is widely tipped to be England's next world number one, was full of praise for his opponent: "We have a lot of respect for each other, but physically he's an animal.
"I mean that in the nicest way," added the 22-year-old from Pontefract.
Earlier Nicol David became the first Malaysian to win a British Open title, and the first Asian to win the women's crown, when she beat Australia's Natalie Grinham in the women's final in straight games - also in 55 minutes.
The in-form world No3, seeded three and ranked two places higher than Grinham, had not beaten the Australian in their previous four meetings. The pair often train with each other in the Netherlands, where both are based.
Grinham was hoping to gain revenge for David's earlier defeat of her older sister Rachael Grinham, the defending champion, in the previous round. The fourth seed led 7-5 in the second game and 6-0 in the third, but the pint-sized Malaysian piled on the pressure to claim her 9-6 9-7 9-6 win and her maiden British Open title.
"My semi-final win against Rachael, the world number one, gave me extra confidence tonight. It was a really close game, I really had to hang in there - it feels so good," said a delighted 22-year-old David afterwards.
The 27-year-old Queenslander added: "I played my best - and that was all I could do. Nicol played well, with hardly any errors.
"I'm disappointed not to win, but not disappointed with my effort," explained the runner-up.