Matthew and Willstrop safely through
Nick Matthew and James Willstrop both eased through to the second round of the British National Championships in Manchester.
World No1 Matthew - who won his third Swedish Open title on Sunday, was given an early wake-up call, however, by Chelmsford’s Neil Hitchens, who took the Sheffield-born thre-time winner of the event to a tie-break in the first game.
But Matthew recovered to win 12-10, 11-4, 11-4 in 38 minutes to set-up a second round meeting with qualifier Adam Murrills, who enjoyed a shock victory over Pontefract’s Simon Parke, seeded 16th for the event.
“That was quite tough,” said Matthew. “Neil’s a good solid player, gets stuck in – and he’s a nice guy, too.
“In the first game, I was a little bit slow out of the box – then I got into my stride,” added England’s first world champion. “It’s always a bit hard getting back onto traditional courts after playing on glass.”
Former world No 3 Parke said his early exit would not prevent from returning next year to have another go.
“I read that Stanley Matthews played top-level football until he was 50 – and that’s what I aim to do - as long as I can stand up and walk in a straight line,” he said.
“I was quietly confident – even though I knew he was quick. It was close – it could have gone either way.”
Leeds’s Willstrop, seeded second for the event and himself a two-time winner, comfortably negotiated his way past Charles Sharpes 11-6, 11-6, 11-5 in just 25 minutes and now faces a tricky second round test against ninth seed Adrian Waller.