Squash: Horner hits heights: Fourth attempt secures first British title

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The Independent Online
SUZANNE HORNER, whose career looked almost over after a knee operation three years ago, continued her remarkable Indian summer by winning the British national title for the first time at the age of 30 yesterday. The Yorkshirewoman had already become world No 3 and England No 1 for the first time this season and she outplayed Sue Wright, who beat her in the 1992 final at Manchester, in only 32 minutes at Welwyn Garden City.

This revenge, by 9-4, 9-1, 9-2, must have been a special relief for Horner who had previously contested three British national finals and, after losing two British Open finals as well, was beginning to wonder whether she would ever produce her best at the climax of the big tournament.

'It was about time I did it,' said Horner, who approached the match courageously with some fierce forehand drives and an increased willingness to volley. It carried her to 7-4, at which stage Wright hung in hard and forced 13 changes of serve.

However, three quick mistakes then cost Wright that important first game and afterwards, perhaps tired by her semi-final with the former British Open champion Lisa Opie the night before, the second seed wore an unusually fatalistic look and faded disappointingly.

Tonight will see England's other No 1, Peter Marshall, try to win back the men's title, although the contest is likely to be far harder. Marshall, a World Open semi-finalist and Super Series finalist in the past two months, is confronted by the other rising star of domestic squash, Peter Nicol, the Scottish champion whom some believe may beat the double- hander to the accolade of becoming Britain's next world No 1.

The 20-year-old Scot has climbed 140 places in the world rankings in the past year, and 26 places in the last two months, to become the world No 14 . He has also overcome two particularly notable victims in the last five days. The first was the English national champion, Phil Whitlock, ranked No 8 in the world, who arguably represents the best win of Nicol's career so far.