After four compelling semi-finals, the top seeds in both events
won through to set up repeats of last year's British Nationals
 Alison Waters bt  Laura Massaro 11/7, 7/11, 12/10,
6/11, 13/11 (78m)
 Nick Matthew bt  James Willstrop
11/9, 11/3, 11/3 (49m)
Waters makes it three
Someone was bound to become National Champion for the third time
in a row this afternoon, but would it be Laura Massaro claiming
three in a row, or Alison Waters making it three wins from seven
was a repeat of last year’s final, and it was, in the words of
the winner, “as close as it gets”.
Ranked three and five in the world you’d expect a high quality
match with plenty of hard fought rallies, crisp winners and
tremendous retrieving, and that’s what a packed NSC crowd got
for well over an hour in a see-saw five-setter.
Waters pulled away from 6-all in the first to take the lead
11-7, Massaro struck back, leading the second all the way to
level, 11-7 again.
The third was, in the end crucial. Massaro started out strong
again, improved a 4-1 lead to 10-6, but Waters fired back with
six points in a row to regain the initiative 12-10.
The fourth started out close, but it was Massaro’s turn to put a
string of points together as she moved from 6-5 to take the game
11-6 and set up the decider.
what a decider it was. It looked all over as Waters swept into a
7-1 lead, but that was the signal for Massaro to start fighting
harder, while Waters seemed to go on the defensive, and we were
at 7-all with Waters hitting a couple of dreadful tins.
From then on it was nip and tuck, Waters got match ball 10-9
with a lucky reflex volley, Massaro saved that, earned one of
her own at 11-10 and thought she’d won it but ‘only’ got a let
at the front.
Waters levelled with a flicked crosscourt drop, drove the ball
deep to earn a second match ball, then claimed a third title
punching the ball away as Massaro, having slipped at just the
wrong time, was scrambling on the floor watching her title slip
don’t come much closer than that, do they,” said a delighted
“At 7-1 up in the fifth it was looking good, then it was 7-all
and it could have been anyone’s, no-one really deserves to lose
a match like that.
“I was lucky she slipped at the end, but obviously I’m delighted
to win a third National title, hopefully it will be the start of
more titles this year.
“I’d like to dedicate this win to Harry Faulkner [the
18-year-old national junior who died on court earlier this
month]. I was on court with him a few times, and he was a great
talent. I thought about him during this week here at the
Nationals - if you’re watching this Harry, this one’s for you.”
[a minutes' applause was held between the two finals in Harry's
Matthew breaks the record
Willstrop had a chance of claiming a third National title
too, but in order to do that he had to stop Nick Matthew’s
bid to claim a record fifth.
Given their head to head record, both in this and other events,
plus the fact that Matthew’s route to the final had been easier,
that was always going to be a tall order.
Willstrop was always a point or two behind in the first game,
with Matthew making his opponent do a lot of work, as he always
does, and it was the defending champion who took the lead 11-9.
The second was much easier, from Matthew’s viewpoint anyway, as
he dominated the game, finishing it 11-3 with Willstrop hardly
contesting the last two or three points.
took a 3-minute injury break in the interval, and came out for
the third competing well in the rallies again.
He was still having to do the lion’s share of the work though,
and dumped a handful of balls in the tin from good positions as
Matthew tightened the screw even further.
Willstrop got a little breather at 6-1 when the central referee
gave a stroke against him when James had seen three different
decisions signalled, but it was only a temporary respite and
soon enough Matthew had his full hand raised in triumph.
never thought I’d get to the point of having five National
titles,” admitted Matthew at the end, “but I guess I’ve got them
“James obviously wasn’t right physically, he won’t make any
excuses but I can make them for him - there’s not many players
who would have finished that match.”
An emotional Nick dedicated his win to his Auntie Sue, who had
just completed some cancer treatment.
“All credit to Nick,” said James, “he put me under more pressure
physically than anyone has for a long time.
"I don’t know if it’s the accumulation of tough matches or if
I’m just not good enough physically at the moment to deal with
what he always throws at you, but he fully deserves this fifth