Sunday, May 26, 2024

I thought I had him says Richie as Lee avoids upset

Lee dodges a bullet as Fallows goes close to British Nationals shock


LONDON kid Richie Fallows came within a whisker of claiming the scalp of world number 34 Joe Lee in the second round of the Men’s British National Championship in Manchester, before lamenting: ‘I thought I had him’.

Fallows, who qualified as a lucky loser, put himself in a great position to cause a major upset as he took a two one lead after losing the opening game.

The Manchester crowd were gripped as the 18-year-old England junior number one went toe-to-toe with Lee, six years his senior and vastly more experienced.

“I matched Joe in shots and movement for large parts of the match and really thought I was in with a shout at the end of the third game,” added Fallows.

“But as we got to the business end of the match he played the big points better than me. He is a lovely player and has the experience.”

nickLee fought back to prevail 11-8, 11-13, 10-12, 11-6, 11-5, before conceding: “It wasn’t my best performance today but I’m really happy to get through.

“I’m looking forward to tomorrow (he faces Nick Matthew), I usually play better in those situations where I’ve got nothing to lose.

“The world’s best players take you up to their level so it should be a great match. Last time we played it was 3-1 and that was a year ago so you never know what’s going to happen.”

World number one Matthew (pictured left) beat Scotland’s Greg Lobban 11-6, 11-4, 11-4 in 34 minutes to remain on course for his third successive title at the Manchester event.  

Speaking after his match, triple world champion Matthew said: “It’s great to be back in Manchester – I’ve got great memories here. I’m pleased to have got through to the quarter finals, the standard of squash is so high that I’ve got to just take every match as it comes.” 

In the other top-half quarter-final, Daryl Selby (pictured below) and Tom Richards will meet for the fourth year in a row. Richards, the world number 26, overcame Eddie Charlton, also for the fourth year in a row, in an hour-long four-game match.

“Eddie is always tough to play,” admitted Richards, “he just needs one of those big wins to propel him up the rankings, I’m sure he’ll get it soon.”

Selby, the 2011 champion, also advanced in four games to end former world number 33 Chris Ryder’s challenge at the last 16 stage. 

“Chris is a really good player for anyone to learn from,” said the world number 10 in his post match interview.

“He controls the ball very well, has good touch and doesn’t overhit the ball. I’ve had a lot of tough battles with him so I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.”

In the evening session, second seed James Willstrop and world number 22 Chris Simpson needed just 32 minutes to triumph over Charles Sharpes and Declan James respectively.

Willstrop, who is a six-time National finalist, eased past the world number 60 in straight games to book a last eight encounter with Adrian Waller, who recorded a similar scoreline against Ben Coleman. 

Elsewhere, Simpson capitalised on James’ first round exertions to record a comfortable 3-0 victory. The 5/8 seed will now meet world number 20 Adrian Grant for a place in the semi-finals, after the 33-year-old recovered from a game down to oust Scottish number one Alan Clyne in four games. 

British Nationals draw new

Pictures by Steve Cubbins (SquashSite) 

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