Squash: FitzGerald cannot break Martin's spell

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The Independent Online
MICHELLE MARTIN won the British Open title for the sixth time in a row when she beat the top seed and world champion, Sarah FitzGerald, 9-4, 9-2, 9-1 in a surprisingly one-sided final at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham yesterday.

It was the third consecutive occasion that FitzGerald had lost to her compatriot in the British Open final and yet, in between the last two Opens, FitzGerald had beaten Martin six times out of seven.

"You aim to pick your best performances for the final, don't you?" said Martin after Sunday's 30-minute match. "I stuck to my plan and didn't get involved in a bashing match.

"Sarah has never won it, and I think she puts too much pressure on herself to do so."

There were only a few minutes in the first game when the outcome seemed in any doubt. That was when a tense-looking FitzGerald came from 1-4 down to 4-4. But for the rest of the match the top seed never found her length and Martin used her long reach to apply pressure or take the ball short to create openings.

FitzGerald grew more and more desperate. She received a warning from the referee for a half-muttered curse in the middle of the second game and stood with her arms outstretched and her hands flat on the wall in disbelief when she mistimed a backhand to go 2-1 down in the third game.

FitzGerald did not win another point. Martin played better and better, volleying with control and variety, and FitzGerald's ratio of mistakes grew, culminating with a penalty point.