British Nationals: Richards looks to Selby for title spur after injury hell
England number seven Tom Richards is hoping to use Daryl Selby’s surprise success at the Men’s British National Championship in 2011 as his inspiration in his quest for a first title at the Manchester event.
Selby, the world number 10, twice came from behind to shock Nick Matthew in a dramatic 84-minute final three years ago.
But while Matthew is the overwhelming favourite to win his sixth National title in nine years at the National Squash Centre, Richards believes there are several players capable of scalping the world number one and top seed.
“You’d be foolish to look past Nick for the title with the form he’s in at the moment,” Richards told the British National Championships website.
“However, there are several players who on their day can produce an upset. Daryl’s victory three years ago has given hope that it is possible to upset the odds and win.”
Richards, who is seeded 5/8 in Manchester, opens his campaign against Tom Ford and is seeded to face Selby in a repeat of their 2013 encounter in the last eight.
However, the world number 26 is expecting no easy matches with nine of the world’s top 50 vying for the title.
“It’s a similar draw to last year in that I’m seeded to play Daryl in the quarters after two tough matches against young hungry players in the previous rounds,” said the 27-year-old from Surrey.
“Every year the strength of the draw shows the depth of England squash and this year is no different. It goes without saying that every match will be tough.
“The Nationals are very important to me. The list of past champions is littered with greats of the game, so to add my name to that would be a dream come true.”
Richards defeated Selby in the quarter-finals last year, before losing to Matthew, the eventual champion, in the last four.
Since then, though, Richards ranking has plummeted to 26th in the world – his lowest position since April 2011 – after rupturing his hamstring last summer.
But after winning back-to-back BSPA events at the Wimbledon Cup and Boston Open in the latter stages of last year, the four-time PSA Tour tournament winner believes he is finally recapturing the form which took him to the cusp of the world’s top ten 12 months ago.
“I feel like I’m back close to the form that saw me reach 12 in the world. Last year was a tough year with injuries and perhaps I underestimated the length of time it would take to recapture my form.
“But since the start of the year I’ve been playing well in training. Whilst I’ve lost 3/0 to both Greg [Gaultier] and Nick in my previous two tournaments, I felt I competed well.”
Source: British National Championships website; Pictures by Michael Catling