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14 Apr 2024

Willstrop Shoulders Home Hopes In Prince English Grand Prix

8 Sep 2007

Defeats by his three England team-mates in the last eight of the Prince English Grand Prix leaves home hopes in the inaugural 5-star PSA Tour squash championship at the University of Birmingham resting solely on the shoulders of England number one James Willstrop.

On the opening day of action on the all-glass court in the University's impressive Great Hall, the fourth-seeded Yorkshireman from Leeds recovered from a game down to beat compatriot and long-time rival Peter Barker 6-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-3 in 56 minutes.

"I was very loose tonight in the first game - I don't know why, but I never felt confident enough to play shots tonight," 24-year-old Willstrop told www.squashsite.co.uk

"You always have to give 100%. I had a good record against Peter in the juniors and I want to keep that going - a bit like Lee's (Beachill) good record against me, you never want to lose in matches like that."

Willstrop, the British National champion, will now face Australia's David Palmer, the World Open champion, for a place in the final.

Top seed Palmer showed little sign of his 98-minute encounter 24 hours earlier when he beat England's British Open champion Nick Matthew 11-10 (5-3), 11-4, 11-8 in 54 minutes.

"I was frustrated at last night's match - all credit to Daryl (Selby) - but I think I should have done better," said Palmer. "All day I got stuck into being positive, and because Nick is someone who can win every tournament, the game plan was to have a very good start - if possible, take the first game and then put the pressure back on him."

The other semi-final will be an all-French affair between second seed Gregory Gaultier and third seed Thierry Lincou.

Gaultier battled for 68 minutes to overcome Italian qualifier Davide Bianchetti 11-8, 10-11 (2-4), 11-8, 11-7, while Lincou prevailed in a see-saw encounter with Lee Beachill, beating the sixth seed from England 9-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-5, 11-8 in 64 minutes.

Lincou, the 31-year-old former world number one from Marseille, has enjoyed notable success in England - winning three PSA Tour events in the country in 2006 - while Gaultier, the four times European champion from Aix-en-Provence, has yet score an English Tour title.

Quarter-finals:
[1] David Palmer (AUS) bt [5] Nick Matthew (ENG) 11-10 (5-3), 11-4, 11-8 (54m)
[4] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [7] Peter Barker (ENG) 6-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-3 (56m)
[3] Thierry Lincou (FRA) bt [6] Lee Beachill (ENG) 9-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-5, 11-8 (64m)
[2] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [Q] Davide Bianchetti (ITA) 11-8, 10-11 (2-4), 11-8, 11-7 (68m)