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Palmer's recovery leaves Walker with final message.

Fairytale endings - it seems - just don't happen at the British Open. Chris Walker, like Sue Wright last year, found the final a match too far against a stronger and fresher opponent in David Palmer, whose victory secured the first Australian sweep of the men's and women's titles in 20 years.

Walker, who had fought his way through some Titanic battles from qualification to yesterday's climax, relinquished a two-game lead as third seed Palmer won 12-15, 13-15, 15-2, 15-9, 15-5.

The Englishman from Colchester, who celebrates his 34th birthday today, became the first qualifier to reach the men's final of the British Open Squash Championships.

'It wasn't a match, but a game too far,' said a dejected and weary Walker after the final - the first featuring an Englishman since 1995. Before beginning the final on the all-glass court, the world No 33 had spent seven hours and 12 minutes over two rounds of qualifying plus further arduous main-round battles, removing three players from the

world's top ten. Palmer, the considerably less-taxed world No 3, had had less than five hours of court-time. The difference was clear from early in the third game.

The 24-year-old Australian said: 'He was hitting a lot of winners at the front of the court, and I wasn't able to attack as much as I usually do in the first two games - but once I had won the third game I felt victory was in sight. It's certainly my best win, and my first Super Series title, but being the British Open it tops it all.'

Antwerp-based Palmer, from Lithgow in New South Wales, and a tall and burly player with surprisingly deft racket skills, has been a thorn in the side of the Australian squash establishment since he was persuaded by his original coach, Joe Shaw, to ignore the Australian Institute of Squash and follow his own destiny.

'It might not be all cheers in Australia today,' he said, although the double with Fitz-Gerald may salve a few bruised relationships before the world championships in Melbourne later this year.

He was particularly pleased to become the first Australian to win the British Open since Hunt defeated Jahangir Khan in 1981. Hunt was in charge of The Australian Institute when Palmer started his independent progress in world squash.

The Australian allowed Walker only three serves in the eight-minute third game and took a 10-3 lead in the fourth before there was another push against him.


Chris Walker battles hard against Australian David Palmer
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Title Annotation:Squash
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jun 11, 2001
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