Day one of the 2019 Allam British Open takes place today as the oldest tournament in squash gets under way at the University of Hull Sports and Fitness Centre.
On the glass court, England's former World No.2 Jenny Duncalf and eight-time World Champion Nicol David will be in action as they begin their final British Open campaigns after the two legends announced that they will retire at the end of the season.
Duncalf gets her campaign under way against Egypt's World Junior Champion Rowan Elaraby at 12:00 local time (UTC+1), while David is up against Hong Kong's Ho Tze-Lok at 14:15.
England's former World No.1 James Willstrop is also in action on the glass court and will face Egypt's Ramit Tandon in the last match of the day.
Schedule: Glass Court
Duncalf Puts Retirement on Hold with RD1 Victory
England’s former World No.2 Jenny Duncalf was forced to put her retirement plans on hold after she secured a surprise win over Egypt’s World Junior Champion Rowan Elaraby in round one of the Allam British Open.
Duncalf announced earlier this month that the British Open would be her final PSA tournament as she brings the curtain down on a glittering career. However, the Englishwoman will have to extend her farewell to the sport as she took out World No.29 Elaraby to advance to the second round.
Alexandria-born Elaraby held the advantage in the head-to-head record between the two players, claiming the last two victories over Duncalf. But it was the Englishwoman who took the opening game after a strong start, before Elaraby fought back and showcased her skill to equalise in the second in a tight contest.
It looked as thought the young Egyptian was going to take the lead in the third when she went 8-5 up, however, World No.62 Duncalf had other ideas and muscled her way back into the game to close out the third and take a 2-1 lead.
JennyDuncalf</a> is fighting for her life out there against <a href="https://twitter.com/rowanelarabyy?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">rowanelarabyy!
The opening match of the 2019
BritOpenSquash</a> certainly hasn't disappointed so far <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WhereLegendsAreMade?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WhereLegendsAreMade</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BritOpen19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BritOpen19</a> <a href="https://t.co/8pZEevARJS">pic.twitter.com/8pZEevARJS</a></p>— PSA World Tour (PSAWorldTour) May 20, 2019
Once again Elaraby fought back as she again took the lead in the fourth and at 10-7 looked as though she was going to push the match to a deciding fifth, but Duncalf had other ideas and saved three gameballs in the fourth to take the match on the tie-break.
She will now face World No.1 Raneem El Welily in round two tomorrow.
“I didn’t expect to be stood here the winner,” said 36-year-old Duncalf.
“Which probably helped, because I just wanted to put in a decent performance in my last tournament. I thought it was going to be my last match, Rowan is such a good little player and I have been on the end of defeats to her a couple of times.
“I felt comfortable from the word go and it’s nice to play on a glass court, it has been a while – I used to spend most of my time on glass courts, so it’s nice to be back on one. I don’t feel like I’ve played much squash recently, so I just wanted to put out an ok performance and so to be on the winning side is very much a treat.
“I love playing in England, but to be honest I actually have a shocking record in Hull, so I was a bit apprehensive that this was my last tournament, but to be able to play another match is all I’ve ever wanted and these past few years I’ve just wanted to play as many matches as I can.
“It’s so nice to be able to play in front of family.”
Jenny Duncalf (ENG) bt Rowan Elaraby (EGY) 3-1: 11-6, 9-11, 11-9, 12-10 (39m)
Whitlock Advances with Dominant Display
England’s World No.21 Emily Whitlock booked her place in the second round in Hull courtesy of a confident 3-0 win over Hong Kong’s World No.40 Liu Tsz-Ling.
The two players had only met twice before on the PSA World Tour, with Whitlock claiming both of those victories and the young Englishwoman did not put a foot wrong again today as she put in a dominant display on the all-glass showcourt inside the newly-named Allam Sport Centre.
The 25-year-old, who has caused big upsets in previous years at the British Open, continued her good form of recent weeks to utilise the cold court to her advantage and overcome Tsz-Ling by an 11-9, 11-7, 11-8 scoreline in 27 minutes.
Whitlock will now face Egypt’s Nouran Gohar in the second round, in a repeat of their battle last week at the Manchester Open.
“I had to be on my metal today,” said the 25-year-old.
“Especially on this court because it is really dead. I have had some good runs at this tournament in the past, but I got on court to practice yesterday and I thought ‘this is a new court and feels different’, but it’s the same for everybody and with is being held at the University now, it is great to have it all at one venue and feel like the same tournament and I’m glad I got off to a good start.
“I played Nouran last week and I think with the scheduling I’m on the side courts tomorrow, so it will be interesting to see if that works for me instead of playing on the glass, like in Manchester. I’m looking forward to it and getting another shot.”
Emily Whitlock (ENG) bt Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) 3-0: 11-9, 11-7, 11-8 (27m)
Richards Prevails in Tough Lake Test
England’s World No.22 Tom Richards was pushed all the way by compatriot Nathan Lake in a gruelling five-game battle as he booked his place in the second round of the prestigious British Open.
World No.57 Lake got off to an impressive start as he took the first game by an 11-4 margin, before Richards roared back in the second with the two constantly exchanging blows before the higher-seeded Englishman was able to close out by a 16-14 margin to level up.
32-year-old Richards continued to put work into the legs of Lake to take the third, however, the 26-year-old soon fought back once more as Richards suffered a lapse in concentration to allow Cheltenham-born Lake to fight back in the fourth and push the match to a tense fifth.
Lake continued his assault to once again put himself in a strong position, before Richards utilised his experience to close out by a 4-11, 16-14, 11-8, 6-11, 11-9 margin in 71 minutes.
“I know Nathan well,” said 32-year-old Richards.
“We are friends off court and have played a few times this year, so I knew what to expect in terms of his skills. It’s a glass court, which I prefer, but I’m sure he prefers as well and it’s quite dead on here and we both like to take it in a lot. It was a really enjoyable match, win or lose.
“It’s a stressful week [at the European Teams] because you don’t want to let your teammates down and so coming into this, I had to find my mental toughness and I’m glad I managed to do that.
“It’s not ideal to change from the glass court to the traditional courts tomorrow, but it’s the same for both of us. I’m sure Simon [Rösner] would prefer to be on glass too and it’s unusual to switch from glass to traditional, but we train largely on traditional courts, so there are no excuses there.”
Tom Richards (ENG) bt Nathan Lake (ENG) 3-2: 4-11, 16-14, 11-8, 6-11, 11-9 (71m)
David Advances in Hull
Five-time British Open champion Nicol David got her tournament off to a winning start after defeating Hong Kong’s Ho Tze-Lok in straight-games in round one.
The iconic Malaysian, who will retire from the sport after this tournament, started strongly to take the first two games against World No.48 Tze-Lok.
However, the young player from Hong Kong soon began to cause problems in the third game for eight-time World Champion David as she pulled together some good shots and rallies to push the Malaysian all the way to a tie-break. However, David was able to close out in three and will now face Egypt’s World No.3 Nour El Tayeb in round two.
“I really felt like I needed to put some things together,” said David following her victory.
“It was great to see her playing well and to play against her because the Hong Kong players are really coming strong. You can see the confidence coming and you have to go for those shots.
“I just had to do what I do best and keep digging in and I’m really please to win 3-0. I was happy to just get on court and play in front of a crowd. It’s my last tournament and it’s really special for it to be at the British Open, I’m just going to try and absorb everything that comes my and savour the moments.
“It’s been a while since we have played each other, but I’m just really excited to get on court against Nour [El Tayeb] and give it a good go. I have nothing to lose, so I’m just going to go out there and enjoy every moment.”
Nicol David (MAS) bt Ho Tze-Lok (HKG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-5, 13-11 (32m)
Masters Upsets Seedings to Reach RD2
Wildcard Joshua Masters progressed to the second round of the British Open following his straight-games victory over Hong Kong’s Tsz Fung Yip.
There are 27 places separating the two players in the men’s World Rankings, but it was lower ranked Masters, who prevailed in a big win for the 24-year-old Englishman.
The tall Englishman went 7-2 up in the second, but allowed Yip to find a way back into the game before being able to close out to double his advantage.
The Hong Kong player once again put pressure on Masters in the third but the 24-year-old found a way to prevail as he claimed a big 11-8, 11-9, 11-9 victory in 35 minutes.
Masters will now face Egypt’s Fares Dessouky in round two.
“I’ve beaten him before and so that gave me a lot of confidence,” said Masters following his victory.
“I knew exactly how to beat him and although at times I sometimes went away from that game plan, I was pleased to get over the line.
“It’s nice to hear that he’s [Fares Dessouky] has had a long match, but it is still going to be tough because these players can back up match after match, so I’m definitely not going to go into it thinking he’s tired.”
[WC] Joshua Masters (ENG) bt Tsz Fung Yip (HKG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-9, 11-9 (35m)
Gilis Prevails Over Turmel
Belgium’s World No.24 Nele Gilis produced a strong performance to claim her first ever British Open win following her 3-0 triumph over England youngster Lucy Turmel.
The Belgian, who has been in strong form at recent tournaments, continued that run as she comfortably overcame World No.51 Turmel to win 11-4, 11-8, 11-5 in a composed performance from the Belgian.
She will now face Egypt’s Hania El Hammamy in the next round.
“We’ve never played on the PSA Tour, but we did play at the European Championships,” said the 23-year-old.
“So I kind of knew what to expect, but obviously she has improved a lot since then. I’ve had a lot of matches the last month and a half so it was hard for me to mentally push today, but I knew that if I didn’t focus then she would come back at me. I had to fight and push myself hard to stay focused.
“I’ve played a lot of matches on the glass court recently, which is nice and that helps because I think I have more experience than her.
“The British Open is one of the most important tournaments and I’m feeling excited for my next match.”
Nele Gilis (BEL) bt [WC] Lucy Turmel (ENG) 3-0: 11-4, 11-8, 11-5 (33m)
Rooney Claims Huge Upset Over Ng
England’s World No.95 Patrick Rooney claimed one of the biggest wins of his career as he downed Malaysia’s World No.36 Eain Yow Ng to reach the second round at the Allam Sport Centre.
The 21-year-old Englishman executed his game plan to perfection as he put in a dominant display to counter Ng’s quick attacking instinct.
It was the first meeting between the two players on the PSA World Tour and wildcard Rooney ensured he carried on a good day for the home favourites as he powered to victory in front of his home crowd.
He will now face either Daryl Selby or Ben Coleman in round two.
“I’m very happy,” said the 21-year-old.
“I didn’t expect to win, but I just tried to take all the pressure off myself and just play the best I could against Yow, who I’ve known for ages. I’ve never beaten him before and I knew it was going to be tough because he has loads of skill and is so quick.
“I just tried to stick to my plan and get stuck in because some of the rallies I might have ended up rushing and sticking in the tin, but I’m really pleased that I stuck to my plan and very happy with the win.
“You’ve got to keep it really tight, make sure he doesn’t hit winners and get things back and keep the pressure on when he does get things back, which I thought I did really well today. He’s really quick but you have just got to follow it up, which I’m learning to do now against these better players and it paid off today.
“I don’t really get to play much in front of a home crowd, so it’s amazing to be able to play in front of an English crowd here. They cheer you on when you’re the home player, especially when you win which I did today so I’m really happy.”
[WC] Patrick Rooney (ENG) bt Eain Yow Ng (MAS) 3-0: 11-8, 12-10, 11-7 (41m)
Low Overcomes Home Favourite Moverley
Malaysia’s Low Wee Wern secured a second-round berth at the British Open after she overcame home favourite Fiona Moverley in straight-games, with the Englishwoman announcing her retirement from the PSA Tour.
Local player Moverley was playing her last match on the PSA World Tour after having a change in career to go into the fire service. Unfortunately for the Englishwoman, she was unable to book her place in the second round as Low put in a strong performance to dispatch the Englishwoman.
She will now face New Zealand’s World No.5 Joelle King in the next round.
“I’m happy to be back in England,” said Low following her victory.
“It’s been a while since I have played a British Open. I’m happy to be back and playing on the glass court and I have had a good run recently, so I hope to keep that going.
“Coming back from three knee surgeries is probably one of the hardest things I have ever done but I’m slowly getting back there and I’m just trying to keep my body healthy.
“Probably the last time me and Joelle played was in Malaysia before I tore my ACL again, so I’m looking forward to playing her. Joelle has obviously come back from injury as well and is in the form of her life after winning the Manchester Open last week and I’m looking forward to a good match.”
“It was actually here five years ago that inspired me to give it another go,” said the retiring Moverley following her last match.
“I hadn’t played squash for a couple of years and I thought ‘you know what I have unfinished business’ and I thought I could do even better than the last time so I came back and it’s so good to finish it here.
“I haven’t played since Chicago, but it is just so special to be back here and playing in front of this crowd.
“Being here every year has been great, the tournament has been held in Hull every year since I came back so that has been special being the local player. Playing for England has been exciting and one I wont forget. The whole experience has been something special, travelling the world and doing something I love.
“I’m now 12 weeks through my fire fighter training and have two weeks left, I’ve got grubby hands from going through burning buildings today. It was hard to get up to play squash and I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get the win tonight.”
Low Wee Wern (MAS) bt Fiona Moverley (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-3, 11-6 (28m)
Willstrop Secures Second Round Spot
England’s former World No.1 James Willstrop got his British Open campaign up and running with a 3-0 win over India’s World No.49 Ramit Tandon.
The two players had never met before previously on the PSA World Tour and Tandon made a contest of it in the first two games to push Willstrop, however, the experienced Englishman was able to close out to take the lead.
The Marksman then pulled out a masterclass performance in the third to close out the match for the loss of just a single point.
Willstrop will now face Egypt’s World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy in round two.
“He’s so skilful,” said three-time British Open runner-up Willstrop.
“The first few rallies I didn’t know where the ball was going and so I really had to buckle down. He was just holding and there were so many variations, he is such a great squash player and I had to use all of my experience and that kind of stuff and I managed to play well.
“This is the biggest one after the World Championships. There is so much prestige, so much stuff about legends and these were the kind of tournaments that we were coming to as kids. It’s a huge event that has been going on for years and with it being in Yorkshire, in Hull, is great for us just down the road.
“Mohamed is right at the top of the world, he has been the dominant player. It’s a great occasion, a great tournament and I’m just going to give it everything.”