The Manchester Open gets underway today, the first time the PSA World Tour has returned to the city since the 2017 PSA World Championships.
The National Squash Centre plays host to the tournament, with 24 of the world’s best women taking part in the PSA Silver event.
The day’s play begins at 12:00 local time (GMT+1) as England’s Emily Whitlock takes on New Zealand’s Amanda Landers-Murphy.
Also in action on the first day are eight-time World Champion Nicol David, World No.14 Salma Hany, and the tournament’s wildcard, Rachael Chadwick.
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England’s Whitlock Through to Round Two
England’s World No.21 Emily Whitlock displayed a mature performance to down New Zealand’s World No.41 Amanda Landers-Murphy in straight-games at the Manchester Open.
The last time the two players met on the PSA World Tour was four years ago at the Windy City Open, where Landers-Murphy claimed the win. However, Whitlock executed her game plan to perfection on home turf with a classy performance to claim an 11-7, 11-8, 11-4 win in 26 minutes.
The Englishwoman will now face Egypt’s World No.7 Nouran Gohar for a place in the quarter-finals.
“I played well,” said 25-year-old Whitlock.
“It was pretty dead on here today, so if I didn’t take my shots in first then she was going to and I would be on the backend of rallies, so I had to take the initiative and be positive.
“The tour is so strong. The strength and depth is incredible and so, you have to treat everybody with the same respect and as though they are all World Champions. I went out, early match and it was good to get going – I’m really happy with how that went.
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s match and it’s so nice to have a tournament close to home. I’m in North Wales in Colwyn Bay and so it’s really nice to see some friendly faces and have local support from back home. Now that I’m through, hopefully it will convince some people to take the day off work and come and watch.”
Emily Whitlock (ENG) bts Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL) 3-0: 11-7, 11-8, 11-4 (26m)
David Eases into Second Round
Malaysia’s eight-time World Champion Nicol David secured a second-round berth after overcoming United States World No.45 Haley Mendez in straight-games.
It will be the Malaysian’s final appearance in Manchester following her announcement earlier this year that she will retire at the end of the season. And the former World No.1 made sure she didn’t leave the tournament early as she put in a business like performance to conquer Mendez by an 11-5, 11-6, 11-8 scoreline.
It was the first meeting between the two players on the PSA World Tour with a ten-year age gap between David and 25-year-old Mendez, but it was the Malaysian who proved too much to handle as she utilised all of her experience to advance.
She will now face England’s No.1 Sarah-Jane Perry in round two tomorrow.
“It’s great to play Haley in Manchester on the glass court,” said 35-year-old David following her win.
“We go way back as I stayed at her house during a tournament at Brooklyn Heights. I’ve seen her since she was like 10/11 years-old, so coming here and playing her is a treat and I’m so pleased to see how she is playing and she made me work hard for my money.
“Coming back to Manchester, I have so many fond memories after playing the Commonwealth Games here in 2002 and playing so many tournaments – the British and the Worlds all here, so great memories.
“SJ is a really tough competitor, we have had so many good matches and just because of my ranking you do get those tough draws on the day you just want to play and give it your best.”
Nicol David (MAS) bts Haley Mendez (USA) 3-0: 11-5, 11-6, 11-8 (23m)
Hany Prevails in Tough Naughton Battle
Egypt’s World No.14 Salma Hany was pushed all the way to five-games by Canada’s World No.30 Hollie Naughton as she booked her place in the second round in Manchester.
It was only the second meeting between the pair on the PSA World Tour and it was Naughton who drew first blood as she took the advantage in an evenly contested first game.
Hany soon fought back, however, as she managed to pull away from her Canadian opponent, who has been pushing the top players in recent weeks, to equalise in the second.
Two bounces before the side wall!
salmahany4</a> with rapid hands on this shot! The <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MCROpen?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MCROpen</a> is well underway here at the National Squash Centre!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SquashTheGap?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SquashTheGap</a> <a href="https://t.co/6d9YlnB6sv">pic.twitter.com/6d9YlnB6sv</a></p>— PSA World Tour (PSAWorldTour) May 9, 2019
The Egyptian then edged ahead once more to take the lead for the first time in the match, but Naughton refused to go quietly as she claimed the fourth to take proceedings to a deciding fifth.
However, it was the higher-ranked Hany who was able to close out, utilising her experience to take a lead before closing out by an 9-11, 11-7, 11-9, 5-11, 11-4 scoreline in 48 minutes.
She will now face England’s former World No.3 Alison Waters in round two tomorrow.
“Hollie has been playing really well and has been pushing all the top players,” said the 22-year-old Egyptian.
“Today, she really made me work hard. It was a bit scrappy in the middle, after the fourth I just made sure I stuck to my plan and focused on every point. The good start in the fifth helped me a lot and I’m really glad I got the win.
“I love playing the backhand drop shots and the forehand boast – they worked well for me at the critical times today.
“We’ve had hard battles in the past and we haven’t really played in a while, but I’m really looking forward to it. I love this court and so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Gilis Conquers Aitken to Reach RD2
Belgium’s World No.24 Nele Gilis overcame Scotland’s Lisa Aitken by an 11-5, 11-8, 11-4 scoreline to reach the second round at the National Squash Centre.
The Belgian, who had never faced Aitken before until last week when they met at the European Teams, produced a composed to performance to take the first game.
World No.42 Aitken fought back in the second to put Gilis under pressure, but the Belgian kept her error count low to double her advantage before going on to take the win in 38 minutes.
She will now face New Zealand’s number two seed Joelle King in the next round tomorrow.
“I don’t think I had ever played Lisa before and then we played twice in the last week,” said 23-year-old Gilis.
“Today, I knew what to expect and I tried to take the pace off as much as I could because she likes to hit it hard and if I go into a battle with her then I knew I wouldn’t get on top. It’s hard to stay focused against such a good player like Lisa and I’m happy that I stuck to my game plan.
“It was important for me and I’m happy that I managed to stick to my game plan because if I gave her anything in the middle then I wouldn’t get it back.
“I always enjoy playing the Europeans and playing for my country. I always learn a lot from that week and I’m sad that it’s over.”
Nele Gilis (BEL) bt Lisa Aitken (SCO) 3-0: 11-5, 11-8, 11-4 (38m)
Courtice upsets Cornett to Advance
Manchester-based Julianne Courtice upset the seedings to take out Canada’s World No.34 Samantha Cornett in four-games and advance to the last 16 at her home tournament.
Courtice was originally due to play United States’ Olivia Blatchford Clyne, however, a late change to the draw saw the Englishwoman come up against Cornett for just the second time in her career.
World No.36 Courtice started well to open up a strong lead before Cornett came back at the Englishwoman. However, three unforced errors from the racket of the Canadian allowed Courtice to take the first game on the tie-break before doubling her advantage.
Cornett, came back in the third, despite Courtice saving two game balls as she reduced the deficit. But unfortunately for the Canadian it was not enough to prevent the home favourite closing out a tight fourth to win 12-10, 11-8, 9-11, 11-9 in 44 minutes.
Courtice will now face USA No.1 Amanda Sobhy in the second round tomorrow.
“It was a massive win,” said 27-year-old Courtice.
“Sam earlier this year won 3-1, so I knew I was up against it and it’s always difficult with a late draw change, so I was prepared for Olivia [Blatchford Clyne] and then came onto Sam and I knew it would be a tough one.
“It’s so good to play in front of a home crowd, there are some people here from the Northern Juniors to support me, my parents and friends are here as well so it’s great.
“It’s hard to keep the consistency at this level, so it’s great with the variation, but it’s so hard to keep the consistency and that’s why these top guys are so hard to beat and with Sam, you really have to push her to get that mistake from her.
“It’s a good day at the office today.”
Julianne Courtice (ENG) bt Samantha Cornett (CAN) 3-1: 12-10, 11-8, 9-11, 11-9 (44m)
Confident van der Heijden Books Last 16 Place
A dominant performance from Dutch No.1 Milou van der Heijden saw her book her place in the last 16 with a 3-0 win over tournament wildcard Rachael Chadwick.
World No.32 van der Heijden took the opening game before stepping up in the second to ease to a two-game lead.
She might be the wildcard, but
RachaelChadders</a> is trying to make the most of her chance on the glass court!<br><br>Great stuff from the Englishwoman! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MCROpen?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MCROpen</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SquashTheGap?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SquashTheGap</a> <a href="https://t.co/xY3mkFRK6A">pic.twitter.com/xY3mkFRK6A</a></p>— PSA World Tour (PSAWorldTour) May 9, 2019
Wildcard and World No.63 Chadwick was forced to take an injury break in the third due to ankle injury sustained, however, that did not stop the momentum of van der Heijden as she comfortably booked her place in the next round courtesy of a 11-7, 11-5, 11-2 victory.
She will now face Wales’ World No.8 Tesni Evans for a place in the quarter-finals tomorrow.
“I’m very happy with how it worked out and how everything went to plan, so very happy with that,” said 28-year-old van der Heijden.
“I felt fresh out there today, a couple days rest was needed after European Teams. I felt good at Europeans, so you want to keep that momentum going and get playing again so I was pleased to be playing today.
“I’ve only played here twice before, but never on the glass, so it was a good experience to get on the glass and this one is different to others that I have played on. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it is a nice court and I enjoyed it.”
Milou van der Heijden (NED) bt [WC] Rachael Chadwick (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-5, 11-2 (27m)
Aumard Downs Hany
France’s World No.35 Coline Aumard took out Egypt’s World No.31 Mayar Hany to reach the second round of the Manchester Open.
The Frenchwoman continued her strong run of form, which saw her claim the women’s European Team Championship title alongside her countrywomen, last week as she overcame talented young Egyptian Hany at the National Squash Centre.
Aumard opened up a two-game lead, before Hany took the lead in the third to look as though she was going to push the match to a fourth, but Aumard battled back to ensure she got off in straight-games.
She will now face top seed Egypt’s World No.3 Nour El Tayeb tomorrow.
“I guess when I got the stroke against me I thought “no”, said the 29-year-old.
“I just needed to focus again and find the solution for not being in this situation again and focus on what Tinne [Gilis] told me.
“I think the women’s tour is getting a lot stronger and it’s not that easy to break the top 30 again, so it will take time but I know we’re I’m going and with the support of my coach and my boyfriend.
“If you look at the pictures then you can see how much it meant to us and especially for me and Camille [Serme], we have been in that French team for so long and been disappointed so many times, so to write history was massive and I think we can be proud of what we did because we respect England and they are an amazing team.
“I’m glad I got to play Laura [Massaro] last week because she’s stopping soon, which is sad, but I enjoyed that match and I wish her all the best for the future.”
Coline Aumard (FRA) bt Mayar Hany (EGY) 3-0: 11-6, 11-8, 11-7 (34m)
Tomlinson Scrapes Past Letourneau To Reach The Last 16
Millie Tomlinson (right) battled past Danielle Letourneau to reach the last 16
Millie Tomlinson is into the second round of the Manchester Open, after fighting off a comeback from Canada’s Danielle Letourneau at the National Squash Centre.
The Englishwoman raced into a 2-0 lead, but as is standard between the pair, this match would not end in straight games.
Both of their previous meetings went to five games, and this one continued that pattern, as Letourneau battled back to win both the third and fourth, as the World No.22 eased off.
However, she found her game again in the decider to make sure she secured her passage through to the last 16, where she will face former World Champion, compatriot, and the soon-to-be-retired Laura Massaro.
“I think I was really pumped up for the first two games. I came out really fast,” Tomlinson said.
“I let her back in but I am glad that I managed to refocus for the last game. I was really nervous so I just stopped trying to play short and I went back to my old game of whacking it to the back and just running.
“Obviously, I have a huge advantage as this is my home court. I lived here for a couple of years so I played on this court for a couple of years, and obviously, the home crowd help as well, It is great!”
Millie Tomlinson (ENG) bt Danielle Letourneau (CAN) 3-2: 11-3, 11-8, 9-11, 6-11, 11-4 (51m)