The intense rivalry at the top of squash’s world rankings arrives on home soil this week when the top two seeds, fellow Yorkshiremen Nick Matthew and James Willstrop, bring their fight for world supremacy to the National Championships which get underway at Manchester’s National Squash Centre on Sunday, 5 February.
The pair, who recently fought out a thrilling final in the Tournament of Champions in New York, are expected to meet again in the latter stages of the ‘Nationals’ next weekend (11th & 12th Feb). Sheffield-born Matthew has the upper hand after regaining the top slot held briefly by Leeds-based Willstrop, coming out on top after a gruelling 85 minute US thriller held in Grand Central Station.
Matthew said, “The fact that we’ll both be playing in front of a home crowd and with plenty of local support is bound to add to the occasion.
“It really shows the strength of England squash when there are so many of the world’s top men and top women competing in our own championships and it’s great to be able to bring it home for the British fans.”
Last year’s winner Daryl Selby is among the line-up of top names bidding to take the title now in its 16th year.
The women’s tournament is set to be equally competitive with squash’s own War of the Roses in prospect as England team mates Jenny Duncalf who, like Matthew, hails from Sheffield, and Preston-based Laura Massaro prepare for battle.
The pair are ranked numbers two and four respectively in the world, but Massaro’s success last year to become the first Lancastrian to lift the title is bound to add to her confidence.
Men’s and women’s Masters events will swell the number of competitors to approximately 340 over the seven days of the championships with tickets from as little as £5 from Tuesday 7th.