Name: James Willstrop
Date of Birth: 15th August 1983
World Ranking: 4
World Series Ranking: 2
Birthplace: North Walsham, England
Residence: Leeds, England
Clothing Sponsor: Adidas
Coach: Malcolm Willstrop, David Campion
Interests: Cooking, poetry, my bed
Clubs/Teams: Pontefract, Mulhouse, Paderborn
Biography: James Willstrop, England’s most successful junior player of all time, fulfilled his spectacular promise as a PSA World Tour player by attaining the coveted world number one ranking in January 2012 after a sensational three-tournament victory run at the end of 2011.
In February, the 29-year-old from Leeds briefly lost pole position to rival and fellow Englishman Nick Matthew - who topped the list throughout 2011 - but regained it the following month and held onto it throughout 2012.
It was in December 2005, just two years after becoming a 'senior', that Willstrop first leapt to No2 in the world rankings - but was unable to extend this lead.
Indeed, after a glorious run in 2008 – in which he reached five Tour finals, with success in three – Willstrop's career suffered a major setback in April 2009 when he was forced to undergo ankle surgery.
But, despite slumping to 12 in the rankings, the Yorkshireman bounced back and, in September, battled through to the British Open final for the second year in a row. And, cruelly – also for the second time in a row - the tenth seed failed to convert match-balls in the fifth game before ultimately finishing as runner-up to England team-mate Nick Matthew.
Willstrop kicked off 2011 in fourth place in the world rankings – and gained semi-finals berths early in the year in the Tournament of Champions, North American Open and Canary Wharf Classic.
But it was in October that Willstrop began his historic Tour run - in all cases seeded to progress no further than the semi-finals! First stop was a final berth in the Qatar Classic in Doha, where he was beaten by Frenchman Gregory Gaultier.
A month later he avenged this defeat in the semi-finals of the Hong Kong Open - and went on to topple second seed Karim Darwish in the final. His next title triumph came just nine days later in Kuwait, where he again punished Darwish in the Kuwait PSA Cup final.
And in Delhi a week later he faced Gaultier in the PSA Masters final - his third World Series climax in a row - knowing that victory would take him to the top of the January rankings.
It was a brutal clash, with the Frenchman taking the lead after an opening 21-19 tie-break game. Willstrop recovered the lead and at 6-1 down in the fourth, Gaultier retired injured after 99 minutes of play - to give the title and the No1 ranking to the Englishman.
"It's a very special day for me," said Willstrop at the trophy presentation. "I can't really believe I've played and won this match - and I'd like to thank Greg for the great spirit in which it was played."
Willstrop's 2012 campaign began with his third appearance in the Tournament of Champions final in New York - but victory to Matthew saw his Sheffield rival take over the No1 slot.
But in his 'most satisfying success of the year', Willstrop regained the upper hand at the North American Open in Virginia - beating Ramy Ashour, Matthew's conqueror in the semis, in straight games in the final to win the 16th Tour title of his career (eight of which are World Series).
Thought by many to be the best match of the revived British Open in May, it was Willstrop's "biggest disappointment of the year" to lose to Ashour in the semi-final at the O2 Arena in London. It was only the second time in ten ranking events since October that Willstrop had failed to make the final.
2012 also saw Willstrop emerge as 'author' with the publication of his book Shot and a Ghost, an eye-opening diary account of a "brutal" year on the world tour. The book was widely acclaimed and, at the end of a notable Olympic year in London, was shortlisted for the ‘Sports Book of the Year’ award – both a historic first for a book on squash and a first for a self-published work!
2013 began with Willstrop slipping to three in the world rankings – and achieving semi-final berths in both the World Series Finals in London and the Tournament of Champions in New York.