Want to become No. 1 by beating the top players: Willstrop

Last Updated: Dec 14, 2011, 19:02 PM IST

New Delhi: Injuries to top players have brightened James Willstrop`s chances of becoming No. 1 squash player in the world for the first time in his career but the Englishman said he would have loved to achieve the feat by defeating the best in the business at Punj Lloyd PSA Masters.

An injury sustained in last month`s Kuwait Cup Open had forced top seed and defending champion England`s Nick Matthew to withdraw from Punj Lloyd PSA Masters, the ninth and final 2011 World Series event in India.

Even former world champion and Egypt`s Amr Shabana withdrew from the USD 1,65,000 week-long event after being sidelined due to a hamstring injury that forced him to miss the Kuwait Cup Open as well.

Title success in the New Delhi event a year ago led Matthew to the top of the world rankings in January – a position the Englishman has retained throughout the year.

The withdrawal here could now lead to Matthew losing his world number one ranking to fellow Yorkshireman Willstrop, who is enjoying the best form of his life -- and this month moved up to second place in the rankings after back-to-back victories in the Hong Kong Open and Kuwait PSA Cup.

Should the 28-year-old from Leeds win the season-ending event, he will overtake Matthew to become world number one for the first time in January.

"It`s disappointing for the game, nobody wants to get injured and it`s the last thing a player wishes but these are things beyond your control. Both Matthew and Shabana are injured and it`s not good for the game.

"I want to compete against very best players around to win any tournament. It would be great to see Matthew around. I am really disappointed that Matthew is not here, loved to play him here," said Willstrop.

For Willstrop though, the number one tag is just another achievement.

"I knew that number one position will come at sometime, if this week great and if not, may be some other tournament. I know one thing that sooner or later it will come," said the Englishman.

A spate of injuries resulting from a crammed PSA calendar has seen a growing demand for a change in scheduling of the events and Willstrop admitted that a little fine-tuning is needed.

"If you look at three out of last four years, some of the top players have suffered injuries and you need to do better things this time. There is a need to promote squash and keeping in mind the requirement, you need to have these tournaments.”

"We have to accommodate these tournaments in the given calender, does not really need to think about having more events," he said.

The injuries resulted in a depleted field in the Punj Lloyd PSA Masters, currently underway at the Siri Fort Sports Complex in New Delhi.

Willstrop also added that one needs to promote squash aggressively to bring in crowds to the arena.

PTI