Duncalf intent on securing career high in London

AIMING HIGH: Harrogate's Jenny Duncalf hopes to secure her first British Open title triumph at London's O2 Arena this week.
AIMING HIGH: Harrogate's Jenny Duncalf hopes to secure her first British Open title triumph at London's O2 Arena this week.
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JENNY Duncalf admits lifting the British Open title would mean “everything” as she kick-starts her campaign in London on Tuesday.

The 29-year-old world No 2 has seen her season affected by injury in recent months and wants to go into the summer break on a high by winning one of the sport’s most prestigious trophies.

The closest she has come previously was back in 2008 when she lost out in the final to the dominant force that is Nicol David.

Duncalf will be welcomed on court in the first round by Malaysia’s Delia Arnold, three years her junior and ranked 21 in the world.

The Yorkshirewoman - now world No 2 since April 2010 - has won the two previous meetings between the two, the last coming in the first round of the 2010 Australian Open when she defeated Arnold 3-1.

As ever, the seemingly immovable force of David - world No 1 since January 2006 - stands in the way of Duncalf and the rest of the draw.

But she is - very occasionally - beatable offering a glimmer of hope to her rivals, including Duncalf who is thrilled to see the British Open return after a near three-year absence and gets her title bid under way at St George’s Hill Squash Club in Surrey before the actions transfers to the O2 later in the week.

“To have the event back on is just brilliant,” said Duncalf. “It’s just such a shame that it’s not been able to be staged for the last two years.

“I think staging it in the capital is a great idea and hopefully it will attract more interest.

“It’s always been a huge event. These are the kinds of events that you want to win and savour. When you look back on your career, these are the kind of tournaments you’re going to wish you had won.

“It’s going to be a tough week - these events always are - but getting my hands on that trophy on Sunday would mean everything to me. It would be the biggest achievement of my career.”

One man who knows all about winning the British Open is Sheffield’s Nick Matthew, who gets his bid for a third title underway at the O2 today against Hong Kong’s Max Lee.

Matthew first won the event in 2006, before repeating his triumph three years later in a memorable, epic encounter with long-time rival James Willstrop in Manchester. An often ill-tempered game ended after two hours with Matthew the victor.

The 31-year-old world No 2, said: I would dearly love to get my hands on the trophy for a third time in 2012. All of this year’s training has been done with this event in mind.

“I know it will be a tough week. I think I am more experienced now though and I don’t really fear anyone.”

Willstrop, three times a beaten finalist at the event, got his campaign off to a confident start on Monday night when he eased past Germany’s Simon Rosner 11-3, 11-5, 11-7.

The 28-year-old, from Leeds, will now face former England team-mate Alister Walker - now representing his native Botswana - in the second round after he beat Harrogate’s Chris Simpson 11-7, 11-6, 11-7.


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