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Martin Bronstein, Toronto, 19 Nov 2001
JONATHON POWER HEADS TOWARDS CLASH WITH PRICE
HIGH OCTANE, LOW IMPACT
I don't know what Paul Price and Graham Ryding had for lunch, but they started their first round match like an exploding firework factory. They were powered by high octane ambitions and rarely hitting the ball higher than three feet on the front wall. It was an incredible start with Canadian Graham Ryding keeping up with the former world number six, Price, who has now slid to number 11. Ryding's occasional negative play was nowhere to be seen and he was attacking any ball that came his way with gusto. This is Price's type of game and he relished the challenge.
At this pace, Ryding's precision was off just enough to get Price a half a dozen strokes as Ryding failed to clear his own shots. This got to the Canadian - who was getting absolutely no help from the Toronto spectators - and the pace dropped down to normal excellence. Ryding led 10-7 but Price came back to 10-all; then it was 11-all, 12-all and 13-all. Price hit a super forehand to length to get to game ball and then Ryding was denied a let - cruelly I thought, - to give Price the 17 minute game 15-13, a game that could easily have gone Ryding's way.
VOLLEY DROP, CHOICE OF CHAMPIONS
Ryding did not let this disappointment affect his game and from 4-4 he jumped into a lead that he never relinquished. Price helped him with six errors and both player showed a propensity for the volley drop, producing winners and errors in almost equal proportions. Ryding has a particularly good feel for the disguised boast and caught Price time and time again, while Price's forehand straight kill should be outlawed under the dangerous weapons act. Ryding quite rightly won that second game 15-9 in 14 minutes, proving his quality.
But he allowed Price to build a lead in the third and as he let errors creep into his game, Price was employing his full arsenal of shots. At 10-5, Ryding's focus dropped off and Price had his second game 15-5. Price was now in full flow and ran to an 11-3 lead. Just when it looked all over Price gave away three points on errors and suddenly the score was 13-6 and then 14-8. It was at this precise point that the spectators woke up to the fact that Ryding was one of them and started urging him on. Ryding responded with a marvellous comeback fight to get to 12-14. On the next point he was denied a let - one of the few times the two official agreed on a decision and Price was home 15-12 after 63 minutes of varied squash.
" I had two weeks off after Melbourne where I played two tournaments in two weeks and it did me good. I thought I played well considering the audience was with Graham most of the time," Price said. He had a good time in Melbourne, winning the WSF Challenge and then helping Australia win the world title.
TWO MORE CANADIANS ... MORE SILENCE
The Jonathon Power/ Shahier Razik match was a curiously subdued affair with very little audience participation. It was 6 ½ minutes before Razik managed a point to make the score 1-9. He seemed to have very little game plan and failed to get the ball to length when he had the chance. He lost the game 4-15 but finally got into his stride in the second to lead 4-3. In the next rally Razik trapped himself in the back right corner and Power looked as though he was asking for a let but then allowed the ball to go through to the back wall and then suddenly hit it for a winning boast. Razik immediately appealed on the grounds of dirty pool and was given the let. Power was quickly into an endless explanation of what had happened and why there should be no let.
When he had finished his Canadian version of a Viking Epic poem, the appeals referee asked: "Is that an appeal?" When the laughter had died down he once more overturned the referee's decision and gave Power the point. Power was now hitting his deeply cut shots which never come off the floor and even though Razik seemed to be moving well despite his blistered foot, he had no answer to the magic of Power and lost the game 15-8 and the third 15-6. It was not the sort of match where Power's form or state of mind could be ascertained and we shall have to wait until Wednesday when he faces Paul Price to get that information.
LOOKOUT THE AUSSIES ARE COMING
We are entering a period of Australian domination in the men's game, a fact brought home yet once again by Anthony Ricketts' vigorous jousting with Peter Nicol, the Scotsman who went up an administration and came down a Limey. Although the young Australian lost, Nicol had to work very hard for 73 minutes and it is almost writ in stone that the next time these two meet, it will be even harder. Ricketts is ranked 21 in the world and is fourth ranked Aussie behind David Palmer, Paul Price and Stewart Boswell. A year from now Australia will have four men in the top ten and there's no other country with a remote chance of achieving that in the next five years.
JUST A COUPLE OF POINTS
Ricketts is a fearless hitter of the ball from the oddest angles and he is all attack. He did well enough to get to 14 first in the first game, which was played at a furious pace, but Nicol is never beaten and he tied it up. Ricketts went for three, they exchanged points for 15-15 and then Nicol gave up a stroke to put Ricketts at game ball. Once more Nicol saved that and Ricketts attempted a winner, hit tin and Nicol was home 17-16. It was close, very close. Nicol took the second game 15-7 but Ricketts took the third 15-9 in 11 minutes.
UP YET ANOTHER GEAR
There was no let up in the fourth, indeed, they seem to be going faster and there some marvellous rallies with both players able to put the other under extreme pressure. Ricketts led 11-7 and Nicol fought back to 12-12. The pressure on the spectator's was mounting as the two players fought inch for inch until Nicol had match ball at 14-13 after another furiously fast rally. The next rally ended with a Rickett error. He cursed himself quietly and then turned to shake Nicol's hand. If two points had gone the other way, it would be Ricketts and not Nicol in the quarters. [obtain the Ricketts - Nicol complete match video]
SMALL BEATS BIG
Rodney Durbach is big and very tough; Ong Beng Hee is small and just as tough and the little 'un beat the big 'un. Ong is the calmest player I have ever seen. Probably the calmest human I have ever come across. I have never seen him angry or heard him raise his voice. His control on the squash court is absolute and his concentration just daunting. Durbach is another tough South African and never gives an inch. He won the first game 15-11, lost the next two and was 8-11 down in the third and still came back to tie the score at 14-14. Ong had had too many match balls stolen from him so he made sure by taking all three points to win 17-14 after 67 minutes. Ong will face Peter Nicol on Wednesday will have to try to forget what good friends they are as well as training partners. And also it was Nicol who said that Ong would be the next world champion
Complete Results: Round One