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16 Apr 2024

Willstrop Tested In Bermuda World Open Opener

27 Nov 2007

Fourth seed James Willstrop claimed his place in the second round of the Endurance World Open in Bermuda - but the England number one was stretched to the limit by unseeded Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema before prevailing in five games in the first round of the $175,000 flagship PSA Tour squash event in the island's capital Hamilton.

Willstrop, with two PSA Tour title wins to his credit this year, played a lacklustre first two and a half games - while Anjema, playing tight and deceptive squash, constantly moved his taller opponent around the court, twisting and turning him.

The 24-year-old world No21 from The Hague took the first two games and totally dominated early exchanges in the third to rush to a 5-0 lead. World No5 Willstrop gradually clawed his way back and once he started to gain confidence the match developed into a classic. Both players went for their shots, and both played some astonishing rallies, much to the delight of spectators who applauded just about every rally.

After winning the third 11-8, the Yorkshireman still faced an uphill battle as the two struggled to take command of the fourth. At 9-9, they played a sensational rally, won by Willstrop - who breathed a sigh of relief when LJ hit the tin after their next rally to even the match.

By then Anjema was beginning to show the strain of having been so close to a major upset - and Willstrop enforced his dominance to go through to a 10-11 (0-2), 8-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-3 win in a 93-minute encounter described as 'easily the match of the tournament so far'.

"I was in a mess - he had me all over the place. Mentally it was absolutely brutal," said 24-year-old Willstrop. "We now have a massive crop outside the top 10 who are a real threat and LJ is one of them. I'm proud to have come through because mentally it was one of the hardest matches in the first half of the season. I'll be very happy to take the day off tomorrow, then I need to tighten up a bit and come back on Wednesday."

Two Egyptian-made upsets earlier in the day leave the second round without Finland's 14th seed Olli Tuominen and England's 16th seed Adrian Grant. After easily winning the opening game against Omar Mosaad, Tuominen tumbled out of the event as the Egyptian qualifier romped to a 1-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-4 upset after 38 minutes. Londoner Grant allowed the older brother of absent Egyptian star Ramy Ashour to claim an unexpected place in the last sixteen as Hisham Mohd Ashour beat the Englishman 11-7, 11-7, 4-11, 11-8 in 45 minutes.

"I've been looking for a good win for the last year - I lost to Shabana in five, to Ramy in five, to Beng Hee in five and to Wael El Hindi," explained 25-year-old Hisham later. "I also lost to Adrian in five in Detroit. He's a really good player and he can run you all around the court. Today I was confident; playing well and retrieving well."

After his Finn win, 19-year-old world No33 Mosaad said: "This was a great win for me and brings up my rankings, maybe now I go to the top 25. In the first game I couldn't play in sync. In the second I played to the back and began to play shots with more confidence. In the third it was so quick because we volley everything. I don't know what happened to Olli in the fourth. I know I played well."

Scotland's US-based John White made an emphatic return to the PSA Tour in his first match outside the US since April when he powered to a straight games win over English qualifier Alister Walker. The No6 seed totally dominated and showed all of his awesome power, hitting winners from every angle before winning 11-8, 11-4, 11-5 in 33 minutes.

"I've had a big break the last few weeks, but I still have my fitness," said 34-year-old former world number one White. "It's a matter of work on court. I went for my shots and it seemed to work. I'm hanging around - for another day at least!"

1st round (bottom half of draw):
[Q] Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt [14] Olli Tuominen (FIN) 1-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-4 (38m)
[7] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt Joey Barrington (ENG) 11-1, 8-11, 11-6, 11-2 (69m)
[12] Mohammed Abbas (EGY) bt Cameron Pilley (AUS) 11-8, 11-6, 11-8 (45m)
[4] James Willstrop (ENG) bt Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) 10-11 (0-2), 8-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-3 (93m)
[13] Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS) bt Shahier Razik (CAN) 10-11 (1-3), 11-6, 9-11, 11-3, 11-6 (75m)
[6] John White (SCO) bt [Q] Alister Walker (ENG) 11-8, 11-4, 11-5 (33m)
Hisham Mohd Ashour (EGY) bt [16] Adrian Grant (ENG) 11-7, 11-7, 4-11, 11-8 (45m)
[2] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [Q] Daryl Selby (ENG) 11-4, 11-7, 11-0 (41m)