8:38 pm
14 Jul 2024

Wildcard Declan James Marks Return With Shock London Classic Victory

28 Mar 2024

English wildcard Declan James celebrated his return to the PSA World Tour after over a year out with a sublime performance to reach round two of the inaugural GillenMarkets London Classic, as the PSA World Tour Gold event made its debut.

On the traditional courts of Coolhurst Squash Club, where the opening round took place ahead of the move to Alexandra Palace from round two, world No.76 James was in top form against Egyptian world No.19 Mohamed El Sherbini.

The 30-year-old Englishman, playing in his first World Tour event since the 2022 Egyptian Open after suffering a ruptured achilles tendon, played the court conditions perfectly, defending well and taking advantage of every attacking opportunity to secure an 11-9, 11-7 win in the best-of-three match.

"I feel relieved, it was a really tough match," said the former world No.15 from Nottingham. "I've been playing well but it's a different story trying to do it against someone in the top 20 in the world. I held my composure well when I saw the finish line. I was just glad that I managed to find a bit extra.

"I'm disciplined, train hard and live a clean life. Motivation is fleeting and I don't rely on it. I know I'm into the final third of my career now and am just trying to enjoy it, improve and be as good a player as I can be."

James was far from the only player to record an upset on day one, with USA's world No.38 Timothy Brownell getting the better of Egyptian world No.18 Fares Dessouky 12-10, 12-10 and England duo Nick Wall and George Parker beating Qatar's Abdulla Al-Tamimi and France's Auguste Dussourd, respectively.

In the women's draw, Alicia Mead's maiden Gold-level event got off to the perfect start as the world No.49 set up an all-England showdown with No.6 seed Sarah-Jane Perry after a convincing win over Egyptian world No.35 Mariam Metwally.

Mead took control of the encounter from the opening rally, dominating the court and forcing errors from the Egyptian as she coasted to an impressive 11-5, 11-4 win in just 13 minutes.