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Friday, 26 July, 2002, 12:57 GMT 13:57 UK

Royal start for squash sizzler

By Mike Burnett
BBC Sport Online at the National Squash Centre

Her Majesty The Queen made sure 10 days of world-class squash action at the Commonwealth Games started off with a Royal bang on Friday.

Fresh from the colourful festivities of the previous night's opening ceremony, the Head of the Commonwealth turned up for the first 10 minutes of Chris Walker's three-game drubbing of Jamaica's Wayne Prescod.

English veteran Walker certainly showed no nerves in front his important guest as he kicked off the men's singles event and began proceedings at the National Squash Centre in Manchester.

"There was a little added pressure with The Queen watching, but it's great to win your first match in that way," he told BBC Sport Online.

"I felt in control and threw in a few extra shots to entertain"
Chris Walker

"We had a little chat and she asked me if I'd played on the court before and I told her I had played there in the British Open in April.

"She said: 'Oh, you've had a bit of practice then.'"

Walker made short work of his unseeded opponent and, for a moment it looked as though 10 minutes might be all he would need to beat the young Jamaican.

The 35-year-old, ranked 12th in the world, refused to relinquish serve in the first game demolishing Prescod 9-0.

His foe made a brief fightback in the following game, grabbing four points before Walker made it two games and let The Queen make a polite departure.

But the Essex-born player, seeded 10th, showed off his mastery of the court in the final game to win 9-0 9-4 9-2 and move one step closer to a potential clash with seventh-seeded Scotsman Martin Heath in the last 16.

"I'm on my home turf and I'm very comfortable on there," he said.

"I felt in control and threw in a few extra shots to entertain."

Walker was the highest seeded athlete in action on Friday as the top nine seeded players all received byes for the opening round.

All eyes will be on world number one and defending Commonwealth champion Peter Nicol, representing England, and Canada's Jonathon Power, who will be action on Saturday.

The two are familiar rivals on the squash circuit and, having contested the final four years ago in Kuala Lumpur, are favourites to meet again in the final in Manchester.

But world number three David Palmer of Australia will certainly have something to say about that when he begins his campaign on Saturday.

The women's competition also starts on Saturday when 15th seed Wendy Maitland of Scotland takes on former international Robyn Cooper of Australia.


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