James Willstrop: Playing return goes to plan in Sweden

James Willstrop. Picture: Steve Cubbins./squashsite.com
James Willstrop. Picture: Steve Cubbins./squashsite.com
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I WAS happy to make last week’s Swedish Open my first since the surgery in September and couldn’t have wished for a better outcome.

The hip and body seemed to get through unscathed. I say unscathed, the muscle soreness has been nasty since but I’m happy that’s the extent of any complaints.

I played my training partner Chris Simpson in the first round which went to the line. I closed the match out 11-8 in the fifth, then lost out to Stephen Coppinger from South Africa in the quarters.

With some stiffness in the legs I was miles off in the opening game, but once the blood began to flow and the body to move I was happy to post another decent display.

Nick Matthew won the event, beating Gregory Gaultier 3-0 in the final. I haven’t been for several years but this year’s lighter schedule allowed me a return to the snowy climes of the city of Linkoping, where former player Fredrik Johnson does a marvellous job staging a very happy and exciting event.

Interest is high there, crowds are big, and it’s a pleasure to go.

On the women’s tour Nicol David responded from defeat in New York with her usual urgency, sweeping all challengers aside, with the loss of no games during the whole event, to win the Cleveland Classic.

We were training at the same club, the Yale club in New York, and after her loss to Alison Waters in the quarters it was telling to see her back on the court with her coach Liz Irving immediately the next morning working things out.

It’s clear to see why she might have been so successful on that evidence alone.

Speaking of which, Nicol posted a glowing testimony to her long-standing coach, former world number 2 Irving, who is now 50.

It’s a real insight into their strong working relationship, and you can find it at squashsite.co.uk