Monday, April 15, 2024

BLOG: James Willstrop predicting a Manchester feast

willstropMasnchesterJAMES WILLSTROP tells his Yorkshire Evening Post readers that this month’s World Championships in Manchester could rival the most iconic venues in sport.

Since squash’s 2020 Olympic bid failed so miserably in September the very highest achievement for a player remains the World Championships which looks set to be the most exciting event of 2013.

Exciting for me yes and the other English blokes because it will be held in Manchester, the home of the National Squash Centre, where we have over the years spent many long summer days and weeks training.

The AJ Bell World Men’s Squash Championships get underway in under two weeks time: the first rounds from October 28, at the National Centre and the quarter-finals onwards at Manchester Central, formerly the Gmex, known as a convention or conference centre.

Previously, the final rounds of major events in Manchester have been held in the large sports hall adjacent to the squash courts in the National Centre, so this is something of a departure.

The new venue looks to be a promising one to add to the list of iconic squash locations all over the world.

Time will tell if it proves to be as exhilarating a spectacle as Grand Central Station, Hong Kong Harbour, San Francisco Bay or the Pyramids at Giza.

But this is certainly a mouthwatering prospect for any squash enthusiast.

The City of Manchester has yet again given immense support to squash and to sport in general.

It appears that sport has simply become a byword for the city.

All the backers and promoters, and Manchester City Council have shown great faith in squash and they deserve to have a wonderful sporting event to showcase.

All the signs are that it should be ultra-competitive.

But perhaps that is stating the obvious.

Most World Championships tick that box automatically.

Ramy Ashour, lest anyone should forget, is going into the event unbeaten for 16 months and as the undisputed World Number 1.

But statistics state that there’s a chance he will be beaten sooner rather than later, and that’s what many of the chasing pack are presumably at least trying to think.

Or perhaps not.

Men’s squash is so competitive that any player, no matter how high their ranking, would be almost foolish for thinking too much about anything other than their first-round opponent.

In the US Open just now in Philadelphia I played Chris Simpson in the last 32; his ranking stands at 21, mine 3.

To the viewing audience this seems like a huge gap and to them the result seems a formality.

For the players on the court it is nothing of the sort.

For the World Championships things are ratcheted up another notch. Every player steps up again.

Look out for young English players Joe Lee and Adrian Waller who are both in good shape at the moment and are winning.

French player Mathieu Castagnet is improving all the time and has just upset Spain’s Borja Golan in Philadelphia.

Simpson is also in good form at the moment, having just beaten Saurav Ghosal and Karim Darwish in Malaysia.

A pulsating event ahead. Don’t miss it!

The AJ Bell World Squash Championships begin on October 28.

The quarter-finals onwards will be played at Manchester.Central.

For tickets go to www.mensworldsquashchampionshi

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