10:55 pm
20 May 2024

Nick Matthew & Jenny Duncalf In Historic National Titles Bid

23 Dec 2009

Yorkshire's Nick Matthew and Jenny Duncalf will bid to become the first pair of champions ever to retain their titles simultaneously in the 36-year history of the British National Championships in Manchester in February next year - and both are likely to do so boasting career-high world number two rankings.

Britain's top squash players - with six in the men's world top 15 and four in the women's world top 10 - will compete in the 2010 event at the National Squash Centre at Sportcity from 9-14 February.

Matthew, the 29-year-old England number one from Sheffield, is enjoying the best form of his life - and rounded off 2009 in sensational style in his third successive PSA World Tour Super Series event final at the Saudi International. The World Games gold medallist in July, Matthew lifted the British Open trophy for the second time in September - but it was his title triumph in the Qatar Classic in November that ensures that the Yorkshireman will celebrate a career-best world number two ranking in January.

Jenny Duncalf made the headlines towards the end of the year by scoring two successive wins over Nicol David, the hitherto invincible Malaysian who has topped the women's world rankings since August 2006. Unbeaten in 13 matches in November, the 27-year-old from Harrogate picked up three successive WISPA World Tour titles including the US Open and Qatar Classic - and leapt to No2 in the December rankings.

Matthew and Duncalf will both be seeded to win the Nationals' titles for the third time.

But the pair will be certain to face still competition from fellow Britons. Matthew is likely to find himself in an all-Yorkshire final against career-long rival James Willstrop, the 26-year-old from Leeds he edged out of both the World Games and British Open finals, and - in their sixth and final clash of the year - this month's Saudi International.

Londoners Peter Barker and Adrian Grant - currently ranked 7 and 12 in the world - will also pose threats in the men's championship in Manchester, as will Gloucestershire's world No13 Alister Walker and fast-rising Essex star Daryl Selby, the 27-year-old who has leapt from 33 to 11 in the world this year.

Duncalf's biggest threat in the women's event is likely to come from England team-mate Alison Waters, the world No6 from London who won the title in 2008. But Lancashire's world No9 Laura Massaro, winner of the Monte Carlo Classic this month, would undoubtedly like to get her name on the trophy for the first time - while Madeline Perry will be keen to become the first Irish winner of the crown. The world No8 from Belfast showed her intent by clinching her 11th Irish national title in Dublin this month.

The 2010 Nationals, which will also include a comprehensive programme of Masters events from Over-35 to Over-70 championships, will be staged entirely at the National Squash Centre in Sportcity - with action from the quarter-finals onwards on the all-glass court in the major arena surrounded by seating for more than 1,000 spectators.