Cathay Pacific 2001
2001 Cathay Pacific Open: Nix on Nicol
...Colin McQuillan reports from Hong Kong....
August 20, 2001 - The Chinese are great believers in fate and pre-destiny, and they would tell you with 20/20 hindsight that the Nicols of this world were not looking at fortuitous times in Hong Kong this week. Peter Nicol, the world champion was today dumped out of the first round of the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Open Squash Championship which he has completely dominated for the past two years, been present in the last three finals and not missed thequarter-finals since 1994. He was beaten 15-12 5-15 15-12 15-8 in 58 minutes by Thierry Lincou, the 25-year-old French Champion.
Nicol David, the double world junior champion from Malaysia,starting out as a full time senior professional for the first time in the first event of the new WISPA Grand Prix circuit, went down in straight games in half-an-hour to the second seeded senior world champion, Carol Owens of (currently) Australia, acknowledging there was much for her still to learn.
I just cannot tell you what went wrong, Nicol said afterthe defeat. I feel I am in the best shape I could be in and I came here afterwinning the Scottish and Irish Opens,and The Super Series Finals. I was really happy about that after all the flak Itook over changing to England. I just did not play well enough here and Thierry played exceptionally well.
LINCOU, ADOPTED NATIVE SON
The last tournament I played was the PSA masters in Egypt,then I fell backwards off a weight machine and fractured bones in my right handtrying to break my fall.. The time off the court has given me the chance to look at my game again andto build my basic fitness. I went on court to attack Peter and it worked better than Iexpected. I lost form a bit in the second game and often I dont recover fromthat. But this time I tried to concentrate on good length and width and to takeover the centre of the court from Peter. It went better and better as the game went on.
Certainly the core of Nicols failure lay in that analysis.For a man whose entire reputation is based on rhythm and accuracy, the world champions range was sorely lacking under increasing pressure.
WALKER STILL SWINGING
The best of these matches was the Heath win over Ryding in which either player would have been a proud winner of a splendid 65 minute display in which the penultimate rally for match point produced the best craftsmanship of the day before ending in a let to put then Scot through against the Canadian 15-3 11-15 7-1515-13 15-14.
Karim Darwish of Egypt, the junior world champion, apparently benefited also from the Cairo workouts with Lincou. He beat the British National Champion Lee Beachill 13-15 15-915-10 15-12 over 56 minutes. Stewart Boswell won the all-Australian battle for Canberraagainst Melbournes John Williams 15-12 15-6 15-13 in 50 minutes, but the ex-Aussie, John White of Queensland who now plays for Scotland, went down in straight games to Olli Tuominen, the Finnish qualifier.
DAVID LEARNS A LESSON FROM OWENS
The 17-year-old from Penang matched strides with her illustrious opponent in the opener and was very much in the hunt in the early part of the match (4-4 in the opening game) and she had a great chance of extending Owens when she led in the third. Experience prevailed over youth and the 30-year-old Owens' cause was helped by three unforced errors. A marginal decision denied Nicol a stroke at 7-1 in the third game game.
Owens seized the opportunity and worked her way back to 6-7.She levelled courtesy of a stroke and on her second matchball saw Nicol's attempt at a forehand boast find the tin. It had been a closer call for the world number two than she had anticipated.
"I was a bit over keen, Owens admitted In these conditions, you try and keep the rallies short. When that did not work, I went back to basics. I thought I could win quickly against a known rallier, but it did not work out too well". She had beaten David two years ago in the Milo Open at Kuala Lumpur. She remains an Australian officially for this tournament, but this could be her last event under the famous green and gold flag.
I am not sure about the Commonwealth Games yet, but I amreceiving support from New Zealand Squash and I have lived in Auckland for thepast three years, so I think everything should go forward from next month,Owens said. The Malaysian youngster was unconcerned about such matters: "I subconsciously changed my game plan in the third",
Nicol said. "I got a bit nervous. It was a lesson for me. This is my second year on the world circuit . I definitely need more exposure". Jenny Tranfield defeated Cheryl Beaumont in an oddly displaced all-Yorkshire encounter 9-6 9-1 9-1 in just 15 minutes, and the seedings were upheld elsewhere as Australias Grinham sisters, Natalie and Rachael, and Liz Irving went through along with Fiona Geaves, Tania Bailey and Vanessa Atkinson.
THONGS DON'T WIN MATCHES
Botwright is the young player who earned international headlines by modelling a thong at the British Open and her management have extended the theme a bit by raffling the garment in Hong Kong to celebrate the start of the new WISPA Grand Prix.
The garment is to be presented to the winner on Thursday and the Eye Group would have been pleased to still have had the original wearer in the competition. Atkinson disappointed the local journalists by destroying Christina Mak, the only home grown Hong Kong player to qualify for the main round by right, 9-1 9-0 9-5 also in a quarter-of-an-hour. The top Hong Kong player, Rebecca Chiu, plays Stephanie Brind tomorrow after drawing the wild card.
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