British National Squash Championships: Men's Preview

After contesting both the Commonwealth Games and World Open finals last year, Englishmen Nick Matthew and James Willstrop are seeded one and two respectively to decide this year’s men’s title.
 
Matthew emerged triumphant both in Delhi in October to win one of two Commonwealth Games gold medals, and in Saudi Arabia in December to become England’s first ever world squash champion, as well as remarkably extending his unbeaten run over his English rival to 12 matches by defeating him in straight games in the final of the PSA Masters, again in the Indian capital Delhi.
 
The World No.1 and defending champion will be hoping to win his fourth British National title since 2006, while Willstrop, the 27-year-old World No.4, will be aiming to reach his fifth final since 2005 and add to the titles he won in 2007 and 2008.
 
Willstrop's game has been based around ball striking which gives him the ability to break an opponents rhythm, Matthew's around accuracy, discipline and court coverage. Both players have continued to add to their range of options over the years, and both are capable of new tactical emphases which have given rise to arguably the best English rivalry of the professional era.
 
However, the English pair face stiff competition from a field that boasts depth as well as quality.
 
Peter Barker and Daryl Selby both recorded wins over Matthew in 2010 and along with Adrian Grant will lead the challenge.
 
Barker has consolidated his status in the world’s top ten after reaching December's World Open semi-finals against expectations and made his first appearance in the PSA World Series Finals in London in January.
 
Following four PSA World Tour final appearances in 2010, Selby started the New Year in the world top ten, while Grant also enjoyed a successful twelve months which included partnering Matthew to gold in the Commonwealth Games Men's Doubles in Delhi. Having reached the 2009 national final and acquired a taste for the big stage, the stylish lefthander may believe anything is now possible for him.
 
Whilst it is hard to look beyond this distinguished list for a winner of this year’s title, Jonathan Kemp, Tom Richards, Joey Barrington and Chris Ryder are all capable of stopping a big name and adding even more interest, thrill and excitement to a much looked forward to championship.

It says much for the quality of the men’s field that a repeat of the 2010 men’s world championship final is a possible mouth-watering prospect for the climax of this year’s championship.