11:08 am
27 Feb 2024

Stait Gets Sheffield Hero Matthew After English Open Qualifying Win

15 Dec 2007

Sheffield's world squash championship-winning hero Nick Matthew will begin his bid for the Mamut English Open crown in the Yorkshire city today with a match against English qualifier Alex Stait.

The 28-year-old from Manchester set up the clash after beating Australian Aaron Frankcomb 11-8, 11-5, 9-11, 11-7 in last night's qualifying finals in 70 minutes - the longest match of the day.

Matthew, fresh from leading England to the World Team Championship title in India earlier this week, starts as second seed in the 5-star PSA Tour event when he takes to the court at the English Institute of Sport at around 6pm.

It is expected that Matthew, ranked No5 in the world, will play fellow Yorkshireman James Willstrop in the final on Tuesday evening. Willstrop, the number one seed, was also part of the England team.

Stait was one of three Englishmen who survived the qualifying finals in Sheffield. Oxfordshire's Scott Handley beat compatriot Tom Richards 11-9, 11-8, 10-11 (1-3), 10-11 (1-3), 11-3 in 59 minutes, while Wolverhampton's Chris Ryder defeated Australian Ryan Cuskelly 11-5, 11-4, 11-8 in 52 minutes.

Czech number one Jan Koukal denied a clean sweep of English qualifying successes when he beat Surrey's Stacey Ross 11-10 (4-2), 10-11 (0-2), 11-7, 11-3. Koukal will face Scotland's hard-hitter John White, the third seed, in the first round.

With Matthew and Willstrop joined in Sheffield by England team-mate Peter Barker, it will mean that White is the only top four seed who was not involved in world championship action on the other side of the world earlier this week.

"That means, unfortunately, that Whitey will arrive in Sheffield as fresh as paint!" pointed out favourite Willstrop.

Qualifying finals:
Jan Koukal (CZE) bt Stacey Ross (ENG) 11-10 (4-2), 10-11 (0-2), 11-7, 11-3 (53m)
Scott Handley (ENG) bt Tom Richards (ENG) 11-9, 11-8, 10-11 (1-3), 10-11 (1-3), 11-3 (59m)
Alex Stait (ENG) bt Aaron Frankcomb (AUS) 11-8, 11-5, 9-11, 11-7 (70m)
Chris Ryder (ENG) bt Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 11-5, 11-4, 11-8 (52m)