WITH Olympic silver medallist Colin Jackson looking on, Yorkshire’s Nick Matthew confidently overcame a tricky first hurdle on the way to defending his British Open crown at London’s O2 Arena yesterday.
The 31-year-old, from Sheffield, won the prestigious event for a second time when it was last staged in 2009, but found the going initially tough in his first round encounter with the unseeded Max Lee from Hong Kong.
In a match lasting 45 minutes, Matthew eventually prevailed 11-8, 11-4, 11-6 to set up a second round meeting with Tom Richards, an England team-mate from the recent successful European Team Championships campaign in Germany.
“Tom is hungry and will be looking for a big scalp, I’m sure of that,” said Matthew.
“As for myself, I was surprised at how well Max played. He’s very quick and likes to get up the court to volley. It was like he was trying to beat me at my own game.”
Jackson, who came second in the 110m hurdles in Seoul in 1988, was at the event to lend his support to the sport’s Olympic bid.
India’s No 1 Saurav Ghosal, based in Pontefract with coach Malcolm Willstrop, also progressed to the second round after overcoming Egyptian qualifier Marwan El Shorbagy 11-7, 11-6, 11-5. He will now face England’s Peter Barker, seeded sixth.
In the women’s draw, Harrogate world No 2 Jenny Duncalf was given a tough examination by Malaysia’s unseeded Delia Arnold.
Playing at the Surrey-based St George’s Hill Squash Club before transferring to the O2 Arena for today’s second round, second seed Duncalf – who lost to world No 1 Nicol David in the 2008 final – eventually won 11-6, 10-12, 11-8, 11-6.
She will now face 15th seed Donna Urquhart.