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15 Jul 2024

'Sensible' Nicol Withdraws From Harris British Open

28 Oct 2004

England's twice former champion Peter Nicol has withdrawn from next week's Harris British Open Squash Championships - Nottingham after taking a "sensible" decision to protect his injured right ankle.

Nicol, who won the British Open title in 1998 and 2002, and last month celebrated his 60th month at the top of the world rankings, twisted his ankle in a non-ranking event last Friday and has been undergoing physiotherapy treatment since then.

"Whilst my ankle is responding to treatment, I've been advised that it would be stupid to risk causing further damage to it before it is fully healed," said the 31-year-old from London. "I guess it's all about becoming sensible about such matters - previously I'd be inclined to give it a go, but this could well lead to longer-term problems," conceded the draw's original third seed.

"It's very frustrating to know that I won't be playing an event that I love. The staging in Nottingham is fabulous and I had a good tournament there last year, reaching the final for the fifth time.

"Indeed my problems can be linked back to last year when I over-stretched myself after not being fully fit, and the repercussions remained with me for months.

"But my long-term goal is to win gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2006, so I have to focus on my next two years in the sport - rather than the next week - and make sure that I am fully prepared for events later this year like the World Open and Pakistan Open, as well as major events next year," Nicol explained.

"I'm particularly disappointed, as my preparation otherwise was going well - I was in good shape and had a good run in the US Open, and was looking forward to the matches in last week's Super 8 Grand Prix to sharpen me up for the British Open.

"So I'm going to take this opportunity of getting better and building up my right ankle so that I can make sure that I am in a position to compete properly in my next event," Nicol concluded.

After first rounds at the Nottingham Squash Rackets Club from Sunday (31 October), action in the Harris British Open moves onto the all-glass court at the Albert Hall in Nottingham from Tuesday 2 November - leading to the men's and women's finals on Saturday 6th November.

World No1 Lee Beachill heads a world-class men's field, featuring eight of the world's top ten PSA players, while defending women's champion Rachael Grinham, the world No1 from Australia, leads a top quality women's draw which features all but one of the players in the world top ten.

Australia's title-holder David Palmer takes over Nicol's status as third seed and Yorkshire's Nick Matthew is elevated to the fourth seed position and now faces Italy's Davide Bianchetti in the first round. Frenchman Gregory Gaultier becomes one of the top eight seeds and will now take on Welshman Alex Gough, formerly based in Nottingham, in the opening round.

Other changes in the men's draw include the promotion of Malaysia's Ong Beng Hee to 16th seed, to meet a qualifier in the first round, and the elevation of South African Rodney Durbach from the qualifying tournament into the main draw where he will face Yorkshire's top seed Lee Beachill.

Revised 1st round draw:
[1] Lee Beachill (ENG) v Rodney Durbach (RSA)
[9] James Willstrop (ENG) v Qualifier
[7] Joseph Kneipp (AUS) v Wael El Hindi (EGY)
[16] Ong Beng Hee (MAS) v Qualifier
[3] David Palmer (AUS) v Qualifier
[12] Mohammed Abbas (EGY) v Olli Tuominen (FIN)
[8] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Alex Gough (WAL)
[13] Renan Lavigne (FRA) v Qualifier
[14] Graham Ryding (CAN) v Qualifier
[5] Amr Shabana (EGY) v Qualifier
[15] Mark Chaloner (ENG) v Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS)
[4] Nick Matthew (ENG) v Davide Bianchetti (ITA)
[11] Anthony Ricketts (AUS) v Qualifier
[6] John White (SCO) v Mansoor Zaman (PAK)
[10] Adrian Grant (ENG) v Simon Parke (ENG)
[2] Thierry Lincou (FRA) v Qualifier