Meet the superstars of squash

The AJ Bell British Squash Grand Prix attracts the world’s best players. Read the profiles to find out who they are, what they’ve achieved, and why they’re so successful.

Nick Matthew

The only Englishman to win a World Championship title, Nick Matthew is one of the greatest British players of all time.

Nicknamed ‘The Wolf’, Matthew’s talent for the sport was clear at a young age and he was crowned the 1999 British Junior Open Champion after reaching the semi-final of the World Junior Championships the year before.

2006 saw Matthew become the first Englishman to win the British Open since 1939, defeating Frenchman Thierry Lincou 3-2 in a five-set-thriller in the showpiece final but it was 2009 that saw Matthew fly up the World Rankings to become World No.1 for the first time.

Matthew played a starring role at the 2010 Commonwealth Games for England, winning the Gold medal with a win over bitter rival James Willstrop in the final before going on to defeat Willstrop again to win his maiden World Championship.

He followed that up by winning the event again the year after, this time beating Gregory Gaultier at the final hurdle to add it to his list of accolades.

October 2013 saw Matthew release his autobiography, Sweating Blood: My Life in Squash to positive critical acclaim.

The Englishman won the World Championship again in November of that year, defeating Gaultier once more and he became the first man to retain Gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, defeating Willstrop again in the singles.

Matthew finished off 2014 by capturing his second British Grand Prix title in December after seeing Mathieu Castagnet off in the final.

The Yorkshireman was simply brilliant at the start of 2015, lifting the Swedish Open, Windy City Open and Canary Wharf Classic titles.

The Windy City Open title was the most significant of the three because it gave Matthew the distinction of becoming the oldest ever winner of a PSA World Series event at the age of 34.

A superb season was capped by an honour from Her Majesty the Queen of England who awarded Matthew an OBE in her birthday honours list.

The start of the 2015/16 campaign saw Matthew secure back-to-back runner-up finishes at the British Grand Prix and NetSuite Open before a period of mixed form towards the end of 2015 was followed by reaching three straight finals at the Tournament of Champions, Motor City Open and Windy City Open at the turn of the year.

An ankle injury curtailed his involvement in March’s British Open, sending him out at the second round stage and sidelining him until May where, lacking match fitness, he made his comeback at the PSA Dubai World Series Finals, eventually bowing out at the group stage.

In July 2016, Matthew received an honorary degree from the University of Sheffield.

Joel Makin

Up-and-coming World No.69 Joel Makin will become the first Welshman ever to appear at the AJ Bell British Grand Prix as he looks to continue the kind of form that saw him break into the world’s top 100 as recently as January.

Makin, who was born in Pembrokeshire, Wales, made his first appearance on the PSA World Tour at the 2014 instalment of the Grays Norwegian Open and has since gone on to reach six finals over the past two years.

After reaching the world’s top 200 in June 2014, Makin made it to his first final five months later, eventually losing out to England’s James Earles at the Gdansk Open.

The 21-year-old reached three finals the following year and got off the mark at the City of Greater Bendigo International in August 2015, beating home player Joshua Larkin to lift his maiden Tour crown.

After claiming a place amongst the world’s top 100 players at the beginning of this year, Makin went on to achieve final berths at the Stortford Classic and Kent Open, before making his debut in front of the SQUASHTV cameras at the Open International de Squash de Nantes in September - losing out to World No.17 Daryl Selby in the quarter-finals.

Cameron Pilley

Cameron Pilley is one of Australia’s leading players. He attended the Australian Institute of Sport on a Squash scholarship from 2001 to 2005.

In 2006, Pilley finished runner up in the mixed doubles event at the World Doubles Squash Championships where he partnered up with Amelia Pittock.

Pilley reached the final of the Canary Wharf classic in 2008 but he lost to James Willstrop in an intense five-game match which was instrumental to Pilley’s rise into the top twenty in the world for the first time.

The Australian claimed a gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in the mixed doubles event, this time partnered with Kasey Brown.

November 2010 saw Pilley impress at the Dutch Open when he defeated Laurens Jan Anjema to claim the championship title.

In 2011, Pilley broke the record for hitting a squash ball at 175 mph, beating the previous record by 3 mph set by John White. The record stood until May 2014 where he hit a ball at 176 mph to break his own record.

Three months later, Pilley picked up a Gold medal alongside David Palmer in the Commonwealth Games Doubles.

Pilley's title drought continued in the first half of 2015 as he could only muster up a pair of quarter-final places at the Motor City Open and Swedish Open.

June 2015 was a momentous month for the Australian as he married Women’s PSA World Tour player Line Hansen and, after some lacklustre performances saw him drop out of the world’s top 20, Pilley returned to form by reaching the final of a PSA World Series event for the first time in December 2015 at the Hong Kong Open.

He downed World Champion Gregory Gaultier and World No.3 Nick Matthew en-route but fell to defeat against defending champion Mohamed Elshorbagy.

He ended up the season with a great performance by reaching the final of PSA Dubai World Series Finals with impressive wins over World No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy and Omar Mosaad.

Gregory Gaultier

Known for his imposing physical style and unrelenting stamina, Gregory Gaultier is one of the most combative and charismatic players on the PSA World Tour.

‘The French General’ showed promise from the very start of his career, reaching the final of the World Junior Championship in 2000 before losing to Karim Darwish, but he made up for that by winning the 2001 British Junior Open.

The enigmatic Frenchman reached the final of the World Championship in 2006 after defeating defending-champion Amr Shabana in the semi-final. Despite going two games and five match balls up in the final against Australian David Palmer, Gaultier was pegged back and the match eventually ended in a 3-2 loss.

He has since lost a further three World Championship finals, in 2007 against Amr Shabana, and in 2011 and 2013, on both occasions losing out to Englishman Nick Matthew.

Gaultier became the first Frenchman ever to win the British Open, in 2007, defeating compatriot Thierry Lincou in the process. He also became the only Frenchman to win the Tournament of Champions when he triumphed over Nick Matthew in 2009’s final.

November 2009 saw Gaultier become World No.1 for the first time, becoming only the second Frenchman to do so, after Lincou, and it would be five years later, in February 2014, before he once again topped the world rankings.

In 2014 he won World Series titles at both the Windy City Open and British Open, while also reaching the final of the Tournament of Champions and the Hong Kong Open.

Gaultier picked up another PSA World Tour title at the Grasshopper Cup in April 2015 but he was denied his third British Open title by Mohamed ElShorbagy a month later as he narrowly lost to the Egyptian in a titanic five-game encounter.

However, the Frenchman bounced back magnificently at the start of the 2015/16 season, claiming the US Open title before making it to the final of the Qatar Classic in November, again losing to ElShorbagy.

The biggest moment of his career was to come just two weeks after his Qatar Classic defeat though as he ended years of World Championship final heartbreak by finally lifting the sport’s most prestigious prize after beating Omar Mosaad - resulting in emotional scenes as he also became the World No.1 for the fourth time.

An ankle injury sustained during his Tournament of Champions semi-final clash in January 2016 with Matthew left Gaultier out of action for two months, where he followed up a semi-final finish at the British Open with final defeats in the Grasshopper Cup and El Gouna International.

He finished off the season with a flourish though by overcoming Australia’s Cameron Pilley in the final of the PSA Dubai World Series Finals - winning the tournament for the third time in the process.

James Willstrop

James Willstrop is one of England’s most competitive squash players, known for his rivalry with three-time World Champion Nick Matthew.

Known as ‘The Marksman’ after his accurate shot placement, he has a large, rangy build and stands at an impressive 6 feet 4 inches.

He lifted the Qatar Classic in 2005 after losing out in the final of the British Open and picked up a silver medal alongside Vicky Botwright in the 2006 Commonwealth games.

2008 saw more heartbreak at the British Open after a 3-2 defeat to David Palmer despite Willstrop holding match ball on two occasions. He reached the final again a year later but lost out in a tense five-set match with Matthew.

Willstrop started 2010 with an impressive win at the Tournament of Champions, dropping just one game throughout the whole tournament. He lost out to Matthew though in arguably the biggest match of his career, the World Championship final, later that year.

The Englishman had a stunning 2011 and earned a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games after defeat to Matthew again. Willstrop followed this up by winning fifteen matches in a row to clinch the Hong Kong Open, the Kuwait Open and the Punj Lloyd PSA Masters. This led to him reaching a career high World No.1 ranking in January 2012 but he surrendered it to compatriot Matthew after defeat in the Tournament of Champions the same year.

The Norfolk-born Willstrop wrote the book Shot and a Ghost in 2012 which released to positive reviews.

Injury dogged the next two years but Willstrop still managed to pick up a solitary PSA World Tour title in March 2013 at the Canary Wharf Classic. The Englishman celebrated the birth of his son, Logan, in November 2013 with partner Vanessa Atkinson, a former Women’s World Champion.

Willstrop showed signs he was getting back to his best when he picked up his third silver medal at the Commonwealth Games, his old foe Matthew proving victorious once more. He finished 2014 on a high, winning the China Open for the first time in September.

More injury problems went on to disrupt Willstrop's season and, despite claiming a handful of quarter-final finishes, his World Ranking took a hit as he dropped out of the top ten at the end of the 2014/15 season.

He returned to some his best form though at the 2015 World Championship in November by dumping out then World No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy in the third round in a performance reminiscent of his sensational best.

Willstrop eventually bowed out at the semi-final stage to eventual World Champion Gregory Gaultier but his fine display ensured that he moved back into the world’s top 15.

The Yorkshireman has recently showed some impressive form with reaching the final of the NetSuite Open and semi-finals at the U.S. Open in the past month.

Adrian Waller

Adrian Waller has represented England at the highest level since bursting onto the scene as a junior.

In 2007, he became the first player ever to win the British Junior National titles at under 13’s, under 15’s, under 17’s and under 19’s level.

Waller participated in the longest tour match for thirty years at the National Capital Open in January 2013, coming runner up to Shawn Delierre. The match lasted 157 minutes, which shows Waller’s ability to play the long game.

That ability was well tested during Waller’s Irish Open win in April 2014, where he took 93 minutes to defeat Scotsman Alan Clyne in a five-set final.

A runner-up finish in May at the Jersey Classic and a semi-final place at the Edmonton Open followed for Waller before he got knocked out of the Andorra Open in April 2015 at the same stage.

Despite this, Waller remains one of the fittest players on the tour and he displayed his resolution as he captured his fifth PSA World Tour crown at the NSCI Open five months later.

Daryl Selby

Daryl Selby has represented his country at the highest level and is the brother of Lauren Selby who has also played squash for England.

He won the British National Squash Championships in 2011, shocking reigning World Champion Nick Matthew by defeating him in the final.

He reached the semi-finals of the Tournament of Champions in 2012 but lost to James Willstrop before making amends by earning his first PSA M25 title at the Grasshopper Cup in April of that year, beating Nicolas Mueller 3-1.

Selby was part of the England team that won the World Team Squash Championships in June 2013, beating Tarek Momen in the final to give England the lead. He followed that up by reaching his first World Championship quarter-final but lost out to Gregory Gaultier.

Selby failed to secure a PSA World Tour title in 2014 but was impressive at the Commonwealth Games in August, winning a bronze medal alongside James Willstrop.

Selby came exceedingly close to victory at the Bluenose Classic in November 2014, losing out to lifelong friend Peter Barker 3-0 in the semi-final.

He also made it to the same stage at the Canary Wharf Classic in March 2015 but couldn't get past eventual winner Matthew.

Selby reached the final of the St George’s Hill Open in October later on in the year but fell to Chris Simpson in a surprising final defeat.

Max Lee

Max Lee is Hong Kong’s foremost player on the PSA World Tour and has proven he is a dangerous opponent ever since he won his first PSA World Tour title at 2008’s Buler Squash Challenge Cup.

He steadily rose up the world rankings in the intervening years and shocked number four seed Karim Darwish in 2014’s Canary Wharf Classic, defeating the World No. 8 in the first round before being knocked out by Miguel Angel Rodriguez.

Lee was successful on home-soil at the HKFC International in May 2014, winning his first PSA M25 title. As number four seed he rose to the final against Ong Beng Hee and won a dramatic five-game-thriller.

He followed that up with a victory at the Victorian Open two months later, seeing off Nafiizwan Adnan in a comfortable 3-0 final win.

December 2014 saw Lee break into the top twenty in the world rankings for the first time while he stormed to the HKFC International 25 crown on home-soil in May 2015 with a dominant win over Saurav Ghosal in the showpiece event.

He followed that up with a victory at the Victorian Open two months later, seeing off Nafiizwan Adnan in a comfortable 3-0 final win.
December 2014 saw Lee break into the top twenty in the world rankings for the first time.

2015 was a fruitful year for Lee, rising in to the world’s top 15 in October thanks largely to his victory at the Macau Open a month previously.

Chris Simpson

Chris Simpson earned his first PSA World Tour title in 2008 at the Taiwan Open and followed that up with a victory at the Edmonton Open in December of that year.

The next few years saw Simpson prove to be prolific, with wins at the Bankers Hall Club Pro-Am in both 2011 and 2012 serving as valuable additions to his repertoire.

He celebrated a successful 2013, emerging victorious at both the Nottingham Open and the Jersey Classic. He also narrowly missed out on winning the London Open at the end of the year.

Simpson opened 2014 by making it to the second round of the Tournament of Champions in January before losing out 3-1 to Daryl Selby.

May 2014 however saw Simpson retain the Jersey Classic by defeating compatriot Adrian Waller in the final in a five-game epic.

He reached the final of a PSA M25 event for the first time at the Dubai Cup six months later but lost out to Karim Abdel Gawad in another encounter over five games.

However, he broke his PSA M25 title duck at the St George’s Hill Open by defeating fellow Englishman Daryl Selby in the final.

Tom Richards

Tom Richards has gone on to represent England at the highest level since his decision to turn professional at 18-years-old.

Guildford-born Richards captured his first PSA World Tour title at the Hithercroft Squash Club tournament in 2008 and went on to add the Kish Persian Cup and Seegarten Vitis Open the year after.

He won his first PSA M35 title at the 2012 Open De Squash Banque Nationale Groupe Financier after a fantastic tournament in which he eliminated number one seed Hisham Mohd Ashour and defeated former World Champion Thierry Lincou in the final. He was rewarded by breaking into the World’s top 15 the following month.

The Englishman failed to win a PSA World Tour title in 2013 or 2014 but came close on several occasions, most notably the 36th Indian Summer Benefiting Beyond Walls and the Ilex Construction Charlottesville Open where he reached the semi-final at both events.

He was one step away from lifting the Andorra Open crown in April 2015 but was prevented from doing so by top seed Karim Abdel Gawad who beat him in the showpiece event.

After a few mixed months, Richards then reached the latter stages of the St George’s Hill Open in October 2015 but was felled in the last four by eventual winner Chris Simpson.

Nafiizwan Adnan

Nafiizwan Adnan has grown considerably as a player since making his debut on the PSA World Tour in 2003.

His first PSA World Tour title came at the expense of his brother, Nafzahizam Adnan, in the final of the NSC Satellite No.1, a match in which the younger Adnan triumphed 3-2.

The Malaysian went on to be a real force in the NSC Satellite series, winning five titles there in a three-year period.

Adnan went through a period of austerity from 2009-2012 but he put an end to his drought of titles by triumphing at the Hibiscus Gardens Open in February 2012, his first PSA M15 title.

A number of high finishes throughout the year saw Adnan break into the top 30 in the world for the first time in his career.

Adnan went on to add 2 more PSA M15 titles, the Cannon Kirk Homes Irish and the 3rd Royal Lake Club Squash Open’s, in 2013 and 2014.

The year 2015 saw the Malaysian claim the NZ International Classic in June before an impressive display at the Macau Open, where he reached the semi-final, elevated him into the world’s top 30 for the first time.

Alan Clyne

Alan Clyne is the Scottish No.1 and has represented his country at various tournaments throughout his career.

Clyne captured his first PSA World Tour title at the Merrill Lynch Pegasus Charleston Challenge in 2008 and followed that up with victory at the PSA Magdalena Squash Open the year after.

2010 saw Clyne participate in both the singles and doubles events at the Commonwealth Games. Clyne, along with partner Harry Leitch, notably stunned Peter Barker and Daryl Selby to reach the semi-final stage in the doubles event.

Clyne’s three year wait for a PSA World Tour title was ended in 2013 when he beat Martin Knight, who was playing on home-soil, to secure the Fitzherbert Rowe Lawyers New Zealand International Squash Classic, his first PSA M10 title.

He took the Garavan’s Bar Paddy Whack West of Ireland Open in April 2014 and appeared once more at the Commonwealth Games in the summer but failed to earn a medal.

Clyne came incredibly close to winning his first PSA M25 title when he met Karim Abdel Gawad in the final of the Pittsburgh Open in February 2015 but the Scotsman narrowly lost out despite taking the first game.

He reached the same stage at the Costa Rica Open four months later but was again prevented from lifting the crown, this time by Peruvian Diego Elias.

The Scotsman bounced back five months later though, capturing the RC Pro Series title after a hard-fought encounter with Arturo Salazar.