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Martin Bronstein, Toronto, 20 Nov 2001
TUESDAY SEES ALL UPSETS: Boswell, Beachill Stand Tall
QUARTER FINALS [obtain the Beachill-Palmer complete match video]
BEACHILL DOES IT AGAIN
Giantkiller somehow doesn't fit Lee Beachill and Number One Eraser is a little long winded but that is much more exact. While we were all wondering whether it will be Nicol or Power meeting David Palmer in the final of the YMG Capital Classic in Toronto, nobody really gave thought to the possibility of the lean Aussie and world number one being beaten. Except of course Lee Beachill who is getting to the point - if he isn't already there, of being afraid of no-one.
FIRST NICOL, NOW PALMER
In this year's British Open he beat world number one and world champion Peter
Nicol in the most definite way; he took the court - and Nicol's game - away from the Scot. It was one of the best pieces of strategic play I have seen, right up there with Arthur Ash's Wimbledon victory. He then went on to lose to David Palmer in the semis. That defeat today was avenged in almost as dramatic fashion. Lee Beachill once more beat the world number one by the score of 3/1 and it should alarm bells ringing in the heads of every player in the top ten. Mark Chaloner, world number eight, has already been beaten twice by this tall, totally dedicated Yorkshireman and before the end of next year, most of today's top ten will be looking up to Beachill in the top three or four.
RESPECT AND THEN IMPUDENCE
Palmer AND Beachill started the first game full of respect for each other with some fine patient squash, Beachill giving a hint of what to come by taking a 4-1 lead but then Palmer caught up and setting a pattern for the entire match. They are of similar height and similar games and they both played to near perfect length, punishing the weak returns with a kill shot. This was engrossing, squash and highly watchable. Palmer's percentage success on drop shots fell from his normal high standard and this contributed to final result.
Once in his stride Beachill less respectful of rank, in fact he became downright impudent and started slamming in the kill shots with audacious confidence. He led 13-11, his 13th point coming from a Brett Martin-like wrist flick that sent the ball to the back of the court. Palmer got to 13-13 which is when a Beachill winner wasn't and Palmer made usre of the game with a dynamite forehand cross court slam that left Beachill no chance. Beachill should have been ahead by a game but trailed.
NO KNEE'D FOR THE DOCTOR
Beachill ran to a 7-2 lead in the second and then 10-4, but once more Palmer came back with a forehand slam drive, then a drive to length and a boast to get to 7-10. In the next rally Beachill suddenly stopped and wince in pain; Palmer had accidentally knee'd him in the right calf. He went off for five minutes, found that inactivity was making it worse so came back on and although hobbling a little, continued, with the referee giving the last point to Palmer. Strange decision; he said Beachill couldn't have got to it. Well of course he couldn't, some lanky Aussie had knee'd him! Nevertheless even with his slightly restricted movement Beachill won that 20 minute game 15-9 to tie the match.
WINNERS AND ERRORS
Beachill steamed to a 9-1 lead in the third game, winners just cracking off his racket, short drops, long drops and disguised boasts while Palmer was still hitting the tin on drops and counter drops. The irritation was creeping in; he knew he was only playing 95% and Beachill was playing 110 percent. He fought back as Beachill relaxed and hit his own share of errors and at 9-12 there was a strong possibility of Palmer re-asserting his rank. But then Beachill hit a stunning cross court into the nick to stop the rot, Palmer got stroked and then was fooled - again- by a disguised boast and then hit a costly error on game ball to give Beachill the game 5-10 and a 2-1 lead.
NO LEE WAY FOR PALMER
Palmer has come back from much worse situations but Beachill was matching him length for length, drop for drop and speed for speed. It was tight all the way to 7-7 and then Beachill inched ahead to 11-8. Palmer stayed focussed and took the next two points:11-10. The next rally was the sort that shows two athletes at their very best and the crowd was gasping almost every third shot. It was exhausting to watch and Beachill showed his confidence count by hitting a screaming volley drop winner. Sensational. Leading 13-12 Beachill hit a forehand straight kills which left Palmer on the floor in an attempt to scrape it up. It was now match ball 14-12 for Beachill. There was a long pause while first the court was wiped and then as Palmer went off to change a racket that had been twice bounced in frustration. The match point hung in the air making Democles' hardware seem like a shooting star in comparison. Finally Palmer returned to the court and they hit a few trial shots to see if the racket was normal. Finally the match point was started and it ended with a Palmer error. It was an incredible win and a fine match, 83 minutes of high drama and superior squash.
BOSWELL: SKINNY BUT STRONG
Beachill's semi-final opponent will be Stewart Boswell who I likened to a used toothbrush when he lost in the final of the 1996 world junior championships to Ahmed Faizy. He is narrow of body and tousled of hair. Since then this Australian has shown that toothbrushes are made of unbending iron: Boswell is up to number six in the world while Faizy is number 72.
He had beaten David Evans a couple of months back in Hong Kong 3-0 and he did the same again today. He's not that much better than Evans, just more determined. I just wish Evans would stop being such a nice bloke and get some teeth-gnashing nastiness from somewhere. A fellow pro told me that Evans is comfortable being around the top ten and not a lot of ambition to go further. Pity, he has an excellent game and fine court coverage. Boswell, a graduate of the Australian Institute, and still being coached by Geoff Hunt and Rodney Martin, is eager to win, and the way he smacks the ball on some cross courts, he makes his aims perfectly clear. He won in 48 minutes and will now face the Number One Eraser in the semis. A perfect match, trust me.
AND NOW, SOMETHING FOR THE LADIES
The Globe and Mail is Canada's prestigious newspaper and a sponsor who has put up hard cash. Strange then that they only carry the results of this tournament while its age old rival, The Toronto Star, had a full story and a photo. Anyway the Globe and Mail Women's Invitational has pitted Sarah Fitz-Gerald and Pam Nimmo against Canada's top two players, Melanie Jjans and Margo Green.
Margo Green faced Fitz-Gerald with a fairly predictable result: 9-6, 9-2, 9-0 for Sarah, well inside 30 minutes. I have nothing against these invitationals, but surely somebody should come up with some handicap system to make it interesting and put a little stress on the world champion?
Results: Quarterfinals [draw]
GLOBE AND MAIL INVITATIONAL