Joe Lee today offered his sympathies to injured Surrey team-mate Tom Richards as he contemplated a dream opportunity in the Allam British Open later this month.
The world no.29 from Walton-on-Thames replaced Richards as a wildcard for the $150,000 tournament in Hull’s Sports Arena when the world no.31 was forced to withdraw with a calf injury and Lee now takes on top seed Nick Matthew in round one on May 12.
“I’m pleased to be given the wildcard, although it is a shame that Tom has had to pull out due to injury,” Lee said. “Hopefully, he will recover well for the start of next season.
“It’s the first time I’ve been straight into the main draw. I was seeded to qualify this year, but it’s good to have the guarantee that I’m in the first round.
“It means I have the luxury of knowing who I will be playing and at what time, which makes the preparation more targeted than it would be for qualifying. It also means I will be practising on the glass court in the week leading up to the event.”
Lee played Matthew in the quarter-finals of the British National Championship in February, losing in straight games in 39 minutes, but he took the triple world champion to four games in the first round of the Tournament of Champions last year.
“Playing Nick is obviously a tough draw, but I have competed well against him in the past and I think I can do better this time,” Lee said. “I had some good patches against him in the Nationals, but I was unable to sustain them for long enough, so I will be looking to do that next week.
“I feel that I have had a good season and I’m really motivated to finish it with a good British Open.”
Indeed, he has, winning two PSA Tour events – the Nash Cup in Canada last September and the Oregon Open in the USA in February – to reach the highest world ranking of his career this month.