Squash: Marshall rides out storm: 'Alternative' English champion ready to face world No 2 in British Open

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PETER MARSHALL yesterday reached the quarter-finals of the Hi- Tec British Open championships at Wembley by beating Phil Whitlock, the winner of the boycotted English championships. It was a sporting, if fiercely contested, affair in which Marshall, the world No 5 who was the winner of the 'alternative' national title, had to save a game point in the fourth and needed an hour and 24 minutes before winning 7-9, 9-6, 9-2, 10-8.

Whitlock, who was sent to Coventry for breaking the boycott instituted by the players, said: 'There's only two players who won't talk to me now and Peter isn't one of these. If that's the way they want to be then fine - I'm just going to get on with it.'

He did this so constructively against Marshall that his performance against England's outstanding player was one of his best of the season.

Trailing 3-5 in the fourth game Marshall appeared briefly to have some physical problems. 'He was definitely struggling, but unfortunately I started to feel tired soon afterwards and I couldn't capitalise,' Whitlock said.

Nevertheless, he managed to reach an 8-7 advantage, after Marshall had made three marvellous retrieves, by combining a good length with a winner from a tight forehand drop shot.

Had Whitlock been able to squeeze his backhand drop above the tin in the next rally, the course of the contest might have been different. But Marshall rode his luck and played resiliently, if sometimes a little tensely, and may be in sound physical condition for his eagerly awaited match today with the world No 2 and second seed from Australia, Chris Dittmar.

Dittmar, the beaten finalist in 1985, ruthlessly destroyed the Finnish world No 9, Sami Elopuro, 9-2, 9-5, 9-5 in 39 minutes. His match against Marshall will be a repeat of their meeting in the Welsh Classic in Cardiff two months ago which Dittmar won in five games.