The opening day of the British National Championships main draw in Nottingham saw England’s Daryl Selby pull off an epic comeback in a five-game thriller which lasted nearly one and half hours.
The pair fought it out on court for a gruelling 87 minutes which saw 2011 champion Selby hold his nerve from 4-9 down in the fourth to book a quarter-final tie against England’s Chris Simpson [5/8].
Speaking after the intense encounter, Selby hailed Stewart as a “dangerous player” but admitted he was pleased with the grit and determination he showed en route to clinching a victory which, early on, looked seemingly unlikely.
Tom Richards [3/4] also needed five games to see off Patrick Rooney after storming back from a two-game deficit to claim a 7-11, 6-11, 11-2, 11-6, 11-4 triumph and set up a last-eight clash with Adrian Waller [5/8].
But there was no early scare for top seed James Willstrop who made short work of dispatching fellow Englishman Harry Falconer, with the Pontefract hitter cruising to a straight games victory in just 22 minutes to set up a quarter-final tie with Nathan Lake [5/8].
“If it’s any consolation to Harry, that’s about as good as a 20 minutes of squash as I’ve ever put together, everything was working – even the lucky shots,” said Willstrop after the game.
Meanwhile, Scotland’s Greg Lobban [5/8] remains the only non-Englishman left in the draw, and he will face Richie Fallows – the only unseeded player to remain in the men’s competition who beat ‘Lucky Loser’ Josh Owen who took the place of injured 3/4 seed Declan James.
The opening day of the women’s draw saw no major upsets as top seed and seven-time finalist Laura Massaro once again underlined her dominance on home turf to book her place in the last eight, overcoming a valiant effort from Scotland’s Alison Thomson with an 11-5 11-8 11-4 victory.
The four-time champion will face England’s Millie Tomlinson [5/8] in tomorrow’s quarter-final.
Speaking after the match, Massaro said: “I’m pretty happy with my performance overall and I’ll try and build on that tomorrow.
“It was first competitive match on that court so it was great to get a win under my belt.
“I really want to do well here this year here – I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.”
Welshwoman Tesni Evans [3/4] remains on course to defend her British Nationals crown after reaching the quarter-finals with a comprehensive victory over English qualifier Alicia Mead – winning 11-2 11-2 11-5 in just 23 minutes.
But first Evans will first lock horns with France’s Julianne Courtice [5/8] in the last eight, while second seed Alison Waters, like Massaro a four-time champion, overcame a feisty challenge from Scotland’s Georgia Adderley 11-5 11-7 11-4 to face Fiona Moverley [5/8].
Elsewhere in the draw, Kace Bartley overpowered youngster Lucy Turmel [5/8] in a high-scoring 12-14, 16-14, 11-9, 11-4 encounter to fix a quarter-final tie with Emily Whitlock [5/8].
The quarter-finals get underway on Friday from midday.