James Willstrop, three times a runner-up in the British Open, insists there is now no pressure on him to win the event.
“My targets are all about keeping a perspective,” said the 31-year-old, who is now ranked 15th in the world. “I’m very much enjoying my squash at the moment. I’m not getting as tied up in training as I did.
“I feel very grateful and thrilled to be able to walk on to the court at this level again. I don’t really go into tournaments with the mindset that I have to win. Obviously I want to win, but before, there was always a cloud over my head thinking about winning. Now it’s much less about that.
“The goals I have are more specific – of getting through matches injury-free, working on my physio to be as strong and as solid as I can be on the squash court so that I can safely play these matches, and getting myself into good shape to get into the tournament.
“I love squash and I want to think about that love of the game for what could be my last years in it.
“May be if things continue to go well in the next few months, I will think a little bit more about really trying to focus on events and achieve a certain ranking, but at the moment I’m very much trying to get my body through this season.”
“It’s quite a nice situation,” said the Yorkshireman. “I don’t feel like there’s any pressure on me. Now I can pitch up against the best player in the world and pitch everything into that match without thinking too far ahead. It’s quite an exciting prospect.
“Hopefully I can go into the match fresh. Before, if I was playing the world no.1, it would be in the final or later on in the event and my body would be a bit tired, but I’m just trying to go into it very positive. I’m just thrilled to be playing.”
The China Open champion is happy with his current form, having reached the quarter-finals of the latest World Series event in El Gouna, Egypt.
“I had a good time at El Gouna and a couple of big wins against Steve Coppinger and Chris Simpson, who are really solid and strong players whom I have a lot of respect for, so it was fantastic to beat them,” he said. “I also had a good match with Ramy (Ashour), so there were lots of positive things there.”