SQUASH: Marshall makes the ideal start

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Peter Marshall, billed as the most likely home British Open male champion since the days of Jonah Barrington more than 20 years ago, made a characteristically industrious start as he reached the last 16 with a straight-games victory over the New Zealand No 2, Paul Steel, at the Cardiff International Arena yesterday.

The second-seeded double-handed British national champion needed 45 minutes to overcome the improving world No 19 and for a while, until the capable Kiwi tired towards the end of the third game, it seemed it could last longer.

But Marshall overcame a heavy tumble in the first game, a 1-4 deficit in the second, and an attempt by Steel to slow the pace in the third, to win 15-10, 15-7, 15-8 and earn a meeting tomorrow with another England international, Mark Cairns.

Marshall's backhand drive, frequently struck to an excellent length, in particular suggested he should be at little disadvantage now that the British Open has changed from a 19in to a 17in tin for the first time in its 55-year history.

Another English hope for a British Open title, Cassie Jackman, the World Open finalist five months ago, also reached the last 16. However, the third seed from Norfolk had some early troubles against Hugoline van Hoorn, losing a lead of 6-3 and then the first game by 9-6, and getting a conduct warning for a one-finger gesture to a referee after failing to gain a let on the penultimate point.

However, half-way through the second game van Hoorn tired and Jackman was able to take the third and the fourth sets at a canter to win 6-9, 9-6, 9-0, 9-1.

Meanwhile the players' governing body, the Professional Squash Association, announced it had signed a three-year, six-figure deal with the sports goods company Hi-Tec to sponsor its televised Super Series circuit, which will go to all five continents of the globe and to an estimated 120 million viewers.

Results, Sporting Digest, page 39