Can you imagine that suddenly there is no Wimbledon? Well, crazy as it sounds, the British Open - the Wimbledon of squash - has not been held for the last two years. But it's back now, and it's back in style: finally re-trans-located to London, to the O2 Arena.
Main draw matches start on Monday 14 May, and the final will be played on Sunday, the 20th. With the recent rule of only eight seeds, already the first round feature some tough encounters: Ramy Ashour vs. Daryl Selby, James Willstrop vs. Simon Rosner, Gregory Gaultier vs. Nicolas Mueller and Amr Shabana vs. Tarek Momen. There are still some tickets to grab (check them out here), or if you are not lucky enough to hang around in London these days, then there is still excellent psasquashtv to transmit all the matches live.
The below rally is from the 2009 final, the last edition of the British Open. This is that famously poisoned match between Nick Matthew and James Willstrop where Nick accused James of blocking, and more severely: of having been thought by his dad to do so.
To add to Willstrop's nightmare, it has been the second consecutive year that he lost the final of the British Open by holding, both times, matchball. In 2008, against David Palmer, he was denied the victory by a clearly wrong decision of the referee at matchball; had the three-referee system or video review existed those times, Willstrop would already be British Open champion.
He is now world #1, and there will be few better occasions to fulfill this story. Even if, according to the seedings, he will have to overcome first Ramy Ashour in the semi, and then possibly again Nick Matthew in the final. None of them would be shy to cause another heartbreak to James if they have to.