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Nick Matthew is aiming for a fourth British Grand Prix title

British Grand Prix - Round One: As it Happens

Follow us here for reports and reaction as first round coverage of the 2016 AJ Bell British Squash Grand Prix gets under way at Manchester's National Squash Centre.

Home favourite Nick Matthew kickstarts his attempts to win his fourth British Grand Prix title as he returns to the scene of his 2013 World Championship triumph.

'The Wolf' takes on tournament wildcard Joel Makin, while former World No.1 James Willstrop and World No.3 Gregory Gaultier are also in action on day one.

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Here's the Order of Play
(All times are local GMT+3)
13:00 Alan Clyne (SCO) v [3] Cameron Pilley (DEN)
14:00 [6] James Willstrop (ENG) v [Q] Declan James (ENG)
15:00 Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) v [7] Chris Simpson (ENG)
16:00 [1] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Adrian Waller (ENG)
18:00 [4] Daryl Selby (ENG) v [Q] Joshua Masters (ENG)
19:00 [Q] Richie Fallows (ENG) v [8] Tom Richards (ENG)
20:00 [5] Max Lee (HKG) v [Q] Nathan Lake (ENG)
21:00 [WC] Joel Makin (WAL) v [2] Nick Matthew (ENG)

Pilley Powers Past Clyne to Book Quarter-Final Berth

Australian No.1 Cameron Pilley got his 2016 AJ Bell British Squash Grand Prix campaign off to a winning start after overcoming Scotland’s Alan Clyne in straight games in Manchester’s National Squash Centre.

The duo were meeting for only the second time on the PSA World Tour – with Pilley winning their last fixture back in 2013 – and it was the 34-year-old from Yamba who started the better of the two, showcasing his impressive shot-placement and powerful hitting to great effect as he took the first game 11-4.

An improved Clyne – who is one of the fittest players on the PSA World Tour – weathered the storm in the second, with his impressive retrieval abilities enabling him to combat Pilley’s guile.

Despite Clyne’s resurgence, World No.12 Pilley managed to keep his shots tight consistently, and gave the Scotsman little to work with as he closed out the second by an 11-8 margin, before dominating the third for the loss of just two points to secure his place in the quarter-final stage at this tournament for the first time.

“It’s very pleasing, it was potentially a very tricky first round opponent,” said Pilley.

“‘Clyney’ had some good results in the Qatar Classic two weeks ago, so I had to be on the ball from the first point and I think I did that as I went out to a 4-0 lead in the first game. I was very happy with how I started and how I finished, so I’m pleased to be through.

“Playing a lunchtime game on the first day can be good and bad, you can put your feet up or you can be the first one out of the tournament. It’s good to get through that first round.

“In the first and third I had to work for every rally but I was dominant in those rallies, in the second game I managed to get a good lead but he [Clyne] worked his way back in and started playing a few of the rallies he needed to play, but I managed to close it out 11-8 and put my game back on his.

“He’s very difficult to play against, we’ve played a couple of times and train a lot together, you just need to play the right game because if you get in a scrap with Clyney it can be difficult because he’s a fighter. I just had to use my skills and the way I play to try and out-manoeuvre him and basically just try and outplay him.”

Pilley will line up against either English favourite James Willstrop or World No.38 Declan James in the next round, and he admits that regardless of who he is playing, he is prepared for a difficult encounter.

“Obviously Willstrop is the favourite, but Declan’s been playing very well and he qualified by beating two quality players,” he continued.

“Whoever wins is going to be the form player. Either way, I’ve just got to be ready for whoever.” 

[3] Cameron Pilley (DEN) bt Alan Clyne (SCO) 3-0: 11-4, 11-8, 11-2 (43m)

Willstrop Defeats James in All-English Battle

World No.15 James Willstrop booked his place in the quarter-finals after beating qualifier and fellow Englishman Declan James in straight games in round one.

It was only the second meeting between the pair on the PSA World Tour, with Willstrop also winning 3-0 on the first occasion at Wimbledon Open back in March.

James, who lives in Manchester, battled through qualification to reach the main draw, beating Egyptian 19-year-old Youssef Soliman and then compatriot Angus Gillams to earn a chance to play in front of his home crowd.

Willstrop was too accurate for James in the opening game, with his trademark accuracy helping him to move the younger Englishman into all four corners of the court to take the opener 11-5.

James put the former World No.1 under a lot of pressure though in the second game when he pushed him all the way to 8-8, before Willstrop stepped up a gear to take it 11-8 and double his advantage.

‘The Marksman’ then kept up the assault in the third to seal an 11-5, 11-8, 11-6 victory, setting up an intriguing quarter-final clash with World No.12 Cameron Pilley.

“It’s cold here, it was in September last year, so it’s making for pretty dead squash which is maybe quite good from the crowd’s point of view,” Willstrop said.

“I feel I can play one or two shots to bring them out, but every player is getting tough like that now. I’ve got Cameron [Pilley] tomorrow and he’s as attacking and accurate at the front as it gets.

“You’ll hear a lot about athletes, when they’re in the Olympics, they often go on about the people behind them, and you understand it as an athlete because you need that support.

“You get a lot of input from physios, coaches and England Squash which is a great deal of help and we can’t do it without that. These good couple of results I’ve had are a thank you to those people and I’m certainly very grateful for that support over the years.”

[6] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [Q] Declan James (ENG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-8, 11-6 (40m)

By Sam Allsop

Adnan Battles Back to Beat Simpson

World No.29 Nafiizwan Adnan produced a superb fightback to overturn a two-game deficit against England’s Chris Simpson and claim a maiden quarter-final berth at this tournament.

Simpson stormed out of the traps and charged into a 2-0 lead as Adnan failed to respond to the 29-year-old’s brilliance. A change in intensity from Adnan saw the Malaysian surge back into contention and he took the next three games without reply to complete a 4-11, 8-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-9 triumph, which will see him face either World No.1 Gregory Gaultier or Adrian Waller in the next round.

“I’m really, really glad I won, at 2-0 down I was just telling myself it’s all about me, he [Simpson] was really good in the first and second, but I gave him that opportunity,” said Adnan.

“In the third, fourth and fifth I just kept pushing, and in the fourth I got a cramp, but that didn’t stop me, I just carried on. It’s all about passion, I’m a player that plays in the quicksand, I slow it down and make them hurry and that has worked for me. I’m good at this, so I can use it as an advantage in my next game tomorrow.

“A win is a win, it’s not about how long it takes, I’m going to get some treatment now and I’ll see how I feel tomorrow.

“I love to play in England, I live five minutes away from here and English people are really supportive, not only of players from their country. If I or someone else does well, we get a clap. It’s really positive and I’m happy to play here.”

World No.20 Simpson was immaculate in the early stages, with his superior accuracy enabling him to go two games to the good after he prevailed in a series of lengthy exchanges.

Adnan, who lives and trains in Manchester, finally found his range in the third as he raised the pace to draw errors from Simpson, with a sublime cross court nick on the back hand volley at game ball seeing him reduce the arrears.

The 30-year-old kept in front during a highly-competitive fourth game to draw level, and sent Simpson scurrying around court in a number of high-octane rallies in the decider, eventually edging it to seal the victory and bring a brutal 96-minute battle to an end.

Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) bt [7] Chris Simpson (ENG) 3-2: 4-11, 8-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-9 (96m)

Gaultier Through After Routine Win over Waller

World No.2 Gregory Gaultier made a winning return from injury after easing his way into the quarter finals by beating Englishman Adrian Waller in straight games.

The Frenchman suffered an ankle injury during last month’s PSA Men’s World Championship, which ruled him out of his semi-final clash with Egypt’s Ramy Ashour and the Qatar Classic two weeks later, but he showed no after effects after a devastating display against Waller.

The first game only lasted nine minutes, with Waller making a few costly unforced errors, including one at game ball, to put Gaultier 1-0 up.

The 2015 World Champion was comfortable again in the second game, taking it 11-6 despite some flashes of brilliance from Waller, who hit the shot of the match down the right-hand side of the court, which was duly applauded by the crowd and Gaultier himself.

Gaultier dropped just three points in the third and final game as he made light work of Waller, setting up a quarter-final tie with Malaysian Nafiizwan Adnan, who was involved in a gruelling 96 minute round one match against Chris Simpson.

“I am happy because I’ve been away from the squash court being injured,” said Gaultier, who also spent two months on the sidelines earlier this season after injuring the same ankle at January’s J.P. Tournament of Champions.

“It’s not been a long time since I was back on the court. It was just a pleasure to play with no pain, we’ll see how I go round after round, but I can’t predict anything because I didn’t have much time to really be ready for this tournament.

“Sometimes you play smarter or you play better when you’re not there physically, that’s what I tried to do today with my shots and it paid off. Sometimes, one round after another, it makes you feel better, so we’ll see how I go tomorrow. If I win, it’s another bonus.

“He [Waller] has really good hands and reach because he is tall. If you’re going to put the ball on his racket he is going to put it away, I had to be aggressive with my shots, control the ’T’ and inject some pace. He did very well in the second but I managed to come back to my game plan and it works.

“He [Adnan] had a good game today, but tomorrow is another day. I just need to go back and rest, I will see how it goes tomorrow and hopefully I’ll play my normal game.”

[1] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Adrian Waller (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-6, 11-3 (32m)

By Sam Allsop

Selby Axes Masters to Move Into Last Eight

English World No.16 Daryl Selby earned his place in the quarter-finals after coming through with a 3-0 victory against compatriot Joshua Masters in his opening round fixture.

33-year-old Selby, 12 years Masters’ senior, had reached the quarter-final stage here on three previous occasions coming into the tournament and he opened up a one-game lead after his superior consistency saw him make just one error compared to seven from the racket of Masters in game one.

A blood break with Selby 3-0 up in the second game brought a temporary hold to proceedings after the older Englishman suffered a cut knee, but he soon continued where he left off in the opener as he doubled his lead for the loss of just three points.

Masters played well in spells, with a superb cross court nick in particular drawing applause from the gathered spectators, but Selby’s experience shone through as he closed out the third to record an 11-7, 11-3, 11-6 victory, which means he will face either Tom Richards or Richie Fallows in an all-English quarter-final clash.

“Josh is very attacking, he’s got a bright future,” Selby said.

“I’ve only played him once just in a PSL [Professional Squash League] match, so I haven’t actually seen a lot of him. I know he’s good, I’ve seen his results. I just had to be sharp, I can’t take any of these guys lightly at all.

“I’ve got to be solid in my hitting and in my movement, I felt like I played pretty well but the points he won were deserved. The length was probably just a bit too much for him, but I was happy with how I played.

“I’m playing well and feeling good, I just now want to start challenging the top boys now. He’s [Masters] slightly different to some of the other younger lads we’ve got, he’s done it a different way like I did, he’s gone to university and studied, and there is no right or wrong way to do it. Everyone is an individual.

“I’ve not got an issue in terms of anything serious, but with the blood injury rule it’s a really frustrating one when you literally just have a little nick and it won’t stop bleeding because if the blood shows up again you’ll lose the game, so it becomes touch and go whether you’re going to get through the match.”

[4] Daryl Selby (ENG) bt [Q] Joshua Masters (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-3, 11-6 (38m)

Fallows Foils Richards in Four-Game Victory

Qualifier Richie Fallows came up with arguably the biggest win of his career after he dispatched fellow Englishman and World No.31 Tom Richards by a 3-1 margin – setting up a second sucessive all-English fixture with World No.16 Daryl Selby.

Fallows stormed through qualification after upsetting Kristian Frost and compatriot Joe Lee to reach the main draw, and the 21-year-old started the encounter on the front foot, going 6-5 up in game one.

Richards, who has struggled for form and fitness in recent months, soon established himself on the fixture though to take six of the next seven points on offer, earning a one-game lead in the process.

World No.80 Fallows improved his precision and his length in the second to restore parity, and he battled to victory in the third to take the lead for the first time, with Richards seemingly struggling with an ankle injury.

Richards battled through the pain barrier in the fourth, but he couldn’t halt Fallows’ momentum as he pressed on to seal the win and become the first qualifier to reach the quarter-final stage of this tournament since Simon Rösner and Tarek Momen in 2011.

“To beat someone like Tom who I’ve seen from a young age, although he might not be 100% fit, it means everything to me,” said Fallows.

“Staying in the moment was so important. I had to not worry about my opponent and just focus on my own game.

“Daryl is a good mate, a fellow Essex-man, so it’ll be good, it’ll be a good crowd and I’m sure it’s going to be a good match. My parents have come down today and a few friends.

“I live in Manchester now and it’s been my first full year here, it’s nice that everyone gets behind me. You can’t do better than that, they put everything into me and I’ve got to repay them.” 

[Q] Richie Fallows (ENG) bt [8] Tom Richards (ENG) 3-1: 7-11, 11-4, 11-7, 11-9 (50m)

Lee Dispatches Lake to Advance

Hong Kong’s No.1 Max Lee battled past a determined Nathan Lake in round one to reach the quarter-finals in straight games.

World No.67 Lake pushed Lee all the way in the first two games and even went 8-6 up in the first, but Lee’s speed and intensity proved too much for the Englishman in the latter stages of that game and the entirety of the second.

In the third game, World No.18 Lee let Lake back into the contest, going 5-1 down early on, but he soon responded and went on to win 10 of the next 11 points to secure his place in the last eight.

Lee has to wait to see the result of tonight’s match between Wildcard Joel Makin and crowd favourite Nick Matthew to see who he will face for a place in the semi-finals.

“Nathan’s hitting was very good today,” Lee admitted.

“When he was hitting it to the ’T’, hitting straight lines and then pushing me to the back of the court, I couldn’t really get up. It’s tough to play at 8pm, I’m a bit sleepy but still so happy to go through.

“I was a bit lucky, I missed three or four points in the last game from drop shots and some counter drop shots. Maybe he lost a bit of confidence going short, and then I had more chance to get in front of him.

“We were running up and down the court together, so I was thinking how I could adapt my game to play for longer, but I got more points than him so it was ok.

“Here in Manchester, the British Grand Prix is one of my favourite tournaments.”

[5] Max Lee (HKG) bt [Q] Nathan Lake (ENG) 3-0: 11-9, 11-8, 11-6 (39m)

By Sam Allsop

Matthew Moves Past Makin

England No.1 Nick Matthew booked his place in the quarter-finals after he defeated Welshman Joel Makin 3-0.

Makin showed glimpses of quality in the match, but didn’t produce those moments consistently enough to seriously trouble the World No.4.

Matthew made several errors leading to points across all three games, but was still too strong for World No.61 Makin, who also made too many himself to really pile the pressure on the number two seed.

The game was broken up several times by the court service team as they were called on to mop the court, with the referee asking Makin to change his shirt at the end of the second game because he was too sweaty.

‘The Wolf’ took the match in straight games by an 11-7, 11-9, 11-9 victory to earn move to within one win of a fifth straight British Grand Prix semi-final.

“I’ve played better in first rounds before but I’ve played a lot worse, they can be tricky matches” said Matthew.

“Somebody like Joel is a great opponent to play on one hand because you know you’re going to have to work for every point. He doesn’t give you any freebies, he’s a fit boy who keeps going until the end and that’s good because it gets you into that sort of toughness you need to back up.

“At the same time, it’s tough because just at the end there I was thinking I could do with him dropping a few because I want to go home. I’m happy to get through and as far as first rounds go, it could have gone a lot worse, I had a little bit of a slip halfway through the second game which knocked me for a couple of minutes. It was a bit stop start and got a bit hot out there with sweat on the floor.

“I’m happy not to drop a game because that’s what I’ve been doing in early rounds lately, which has been hampering me later in tournaments.

“I am experienced enough to back up, I did feel as if I was getting some accumulative rallies behind him so the little rest might have helped him in terms of squash. In terms of concentration, you should be fine with that sort of stuff because that always happens and it’s just part of the game.”

Yorkshireman Matthew lost out in the final of this tournament last year to World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy, and will be hoping to go one better this year, with World No.18 Max Lee of Hong Kong the next obstacle in his way as they go up against one another in tomorrow’s last eight fixture.

“I was watching him [Lee] earlier and he loves a rhythm, he’s such a rhythmic player, you can imagine him solo practising for four hours in a row, he literally loves hitting a ball,” Matthew explained.

“I’ve got to find a way to get him out of his metronomic style, no disrespect to him in saying that, but I need to snap him out of that.

“It’s one round at a time, but I am here to try and win it and I’m not here to just make the final. I don’t know how many of these events I’ve got left ,so I’ve got to enjoy it, do my best and focus on my own game and see where that takes me.”

[2] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [WC] Joel Makin (WAL) 3-0: 11-7, 11-9, 11-9 (52m)

By Sam Allsop

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