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World Open History

by Dan Kneipp, Team Kneipp report index
All content © 2003 Squashtalk

Dec 12, 2003

Jahangir and Jansher won the World Open a combined 16 times! (photo: ©2003 SquashTalk archives)

The World Open is a very recent affair. It didn’t begin until 1976 making it younger than Peter Nicol, John McWhitey, Joe, Mark Chaloner and a bunch of the older players on the tour . Prior to this the British Open was regarded as the World Championships, in the same way that Wimbledon was. There was an event called the World Individual Amateur Championships that was staged in the 60s. 67’s event had Geoff Hunt beating Cam Nancarrow, with Hiscoe and Barrington making the semis. These were the top players of the era, but the event was the ‘Amateur’ championships and the professional/amateur issues of sport in the 60s and 70s meant that a player couldn’t be a pro and continue playing this event. This meant that in 1979 Geoff Hunt won the World Open, and a 15 year-old Jahangir Khan won the World Amateur Individual Championships. As the 2003 World Open will be only contested by players that are members of the Professional Squash Association, I’ll only include details on the World Open and not the amateur event.

Over the years the World Open has been held at a diverse range of locations including Adelaide 3 times, Cairo twice, Birmingham twice, Toronto twice, Toulouse in France twice, Karachi three times, Barcelona, Antwerp, Doha, Nicosia in Cyprus, West Germany, Amsterdam, London, Petaling Jaya in Malaysia and Lahore for the first time in 2003.

Like the World Team Championships and the British Open the event has been dominated by a lot of Pakistani victories, a bunch of Aussie wins, and a tiny scattering of other nationalities. Of the twenty-five titles the mighty Khan domination of Jansher and Jahangir have won the title a ridiculous 16 times. Jahangir held the trophy from 1981 through to 1985 as part of his five years of complete squash domination when he didn’t concede a single match. Jansher took over the title in 1987, beating Jahangir in the semis, winning the event an incredible ten times over the next eleven years.

Australian players have won the event seven times, with Geoff Hunt earning four titles, and Palmer, Rodney Martin and Rodney Eyles all having one-off victories. The 16 Pakistani victories and 7 Australian trophies only leave room for three other champions. Kiwi Ross Norman won the event in 1986 to break up what would have been a Khan decade of domination in the event. Jonathon Power won in 1998, and Peter Nicol won in 1999, back when he was still playing for a country that we could beat at Rugby.

When you consider that only nine players have ever won this event, it makes for exciting squash that two previous champions will be again vying for the title. It should be three past champions, but Power has withdrawn with a broken hand.

Here are some other facts on the event and players:

1989 – the first time Point-a-rally scoring was introduced, thankfully.

1991 – Rodney Martin won the event and in doing so became the first player to beat both Jahangir and Jansher in the same tournament. He also had to beat Dittmar in the semis meaning he had victories over the world #1,2 & 3.

1992 – the 5th time that Aussie Chris Dittmar made the final. He never won the event.

1997 – Jansher didn’t attend the event in Malaysia, despite being the reigning champions. He had a pending court order in Malaysia because of maintenance payments for a son.

Players who are either playing at Lahore, or still members of the PSA who have previously had success at the World Open include:

Peter Nicol - 1999 winner
Chris Walker – 1993 semis, 94 quarters, 96 semis
Alex Gough – 1997 semis,
Stefan Castelyn – 1998 semis,
Martin Heath – 1999 semis,

The World Open qualifying tournament is about to begin, with the main draw starting on Sunday. Preview coming soon.

Source for m ost historical figures: The World Squash Federation