There is something really special and unique about the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York.
We have been fortunate, as squash players, to have played in some spectacular venues over the years such as in front of the pyramids in Cairo and Hong Kong Harbour. But Grand Central Terminal is definitely one of my favourite venues to play at.
It’s usually the first event after Christmas so you get that extra buzz and can really prepare well for it.
It was nice to have 10 days off over Christmas to recharge the batteries and spend some time at home with the family. Having said that, I did go for a run on Christmas Day which I don’t think I have ever done before in my career!
The hard thing after Christmas is getting the quality of training in if facilities are closed or people are having time off but I’ve been fortunate to have been able to get some good hard work in. I have been up to Harrogate to see my coach Dave Pearson and Chris Simpson, who is ranked in the top 20 in the world, has been coming to Sheffield for some good training hits. My trainer, Mark Campbell, is moving to Dore so I will have him on doorstep soon and have no excuses not to be in good shape!
I’m happy with how my preparations have gone over the festive period and I’m really looking forward to the Tournament of Champions.
New York squash fans really support the event year in year out and there have been some memorable matches in recent years. I’ve said before it’s probably one of the few tournaments where squash players appear like rock stars on stage and it certainly has all the glitz and glamour you would expect from an event in the city that never sleeps!
The Tournament of Champions is definitely right up there at the top of my priority list for 2015. I won the event three years ago and have reached the final on three other occasions so know what it’s like to go far in the tournament. I also know how tough it is because it is an event everyone wants to do well in.
I play my good friend Daryl Selby in the first round on Saturday. I spent the weekend with Daryl before Christmas playing an exhibition in Aberdeen and we then went together to BBC Sports Personality of the Year in Glasgow last month and I think the draw for New York came out the next day! It often goes like that. What I do know is that Daryl is incredibly tough to play against and I will have to be at my best to win.