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Willstrop & Lincou To Contest Prince English Grand Prix Final

9 Sep 2007

It took three hours of dramatic squash on an all-glass court in the spectacular setting of the Great Hall at the University of Birmingham to produce the two players - James Willstrop of England and Thierry Lincou of France - who will contest the final of the Prince English Grand Prix - Birmingham 2007.

Fourth seed Willstrop was the first through to the climax of the inaugural 5-star PSA Tour championship in the West Midlands city after beating Australian favourite David Palmer in a semi-final clash between the reigning British National champion and the World Open champion.

In his third successive encounter in the event with an Englishman, Palmer recovered from a game down to take a 2/1 lead - and looked in ominous form. But Willstrop, the 24-year-old England number one from Leeds, immediately regained the upper hand to draw level after taking the fourth game for the loss of just two points.

It was nip and tuck in the decider until the Englishman moved to match ball at 10-9 - when, to add the already intense drama, Willstrop broke a string and had to enforce an untimely break as he left the court to replace the racquet.

Shortly after his return, however - and to a huge roar of delight from the packed crowd - Willstrop finally clinched the point to earn an 11-9, 8-11, 6-11, 11-2, 11-9 victory in 95 minutes to claim his 10th appearance in a PSA Tour final.

"I got a brilliant start - but at 2/1 down, he was totally in control and I was on the ropes," admitted Willstrop on the event's official website www.englishgrandprix.net. "You have to believe you can come back against any opponent, so I just dug in and it came together.

"It's great for Prince reasons and great for me too," added the world No7, referring to his recent signing to title sponsor Prince. "I just love competing in these events and I hate waking up on the final day knowing I'm not playing."

The other semi-final was an all-French affair between the country's two top players - Thierry Lincou, the third seed and nine times winner of the French national title, and Gregory Gaultier, the 24-year-old second seed from Aix-en-Provence who has now overtaken his compatriot in the world rankings.

It was another gruelling encounter in which the lead changed a number of times. However, it was the experienced Lincou who ultimately prevailed, winning 3-11, 11-8, 11-9, 6-11, 11-5 in 87 minutes.

The triumph takes the 31-year-old from Marseille - who won three Tour titles in England last year - into the 33rd PSA Tour final of his career.

[4] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [1] David Palmer (AUS) 11-9, 8-11, 6-11, 11-2, 11-9 (95m)
[3] Thierry Lincou (FRA) bt [2] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 3-11, 11-8, 11-9, 6-11, 11-5 (87m)