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Lincou Withstands Kneipp
Mar 9, 2005, by Ron Beck
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THEY SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST

Joe Kneipp and Thierry Lincou enthralled the crowd with the heights of squash last night; photo © 2005 Fritz Borchert

The last match on on opening day of the Kuwait Open was the magician with the raquet, Joseph Kneipp, against the always steady world #1 Thierry Lincou. It was by far the highest level and most engaging match of the evening.

Both Lincou and Kneipp were on - with Joe Kneipp keeping a terrific pressure on Lincou with a dizzying array of volleys boasts and spin drops, while Lincou was moving like a cat, ready to counter almost everything that Kneipp could put forth.

Though Lincou took an early lead in the first game, 10-7, aggressive play from Kneipp knotted it at 10 and the two proceeded to battle tooth and nail through another sixteen points. For a time, it seemed that the only way a point could be scored was by a stroke. And this WASN'T attritional squash. Kneipp was attacking, attacking, Lincou parrying, parrying. The battles were joined in the backhand front court, and usually only ended with a dead nick or stroke. Kneipp came away with the game 19-17.

But the exciting, attacking Kneipp sometimes has trouble keeping his concentration level up, and this is what happened to him in games two and three, as he let up just the tiniest bit, which gave Lincou the opening to open a 2 games to 1 lead.

Image of Sheihka al Saad imposed on the show court ; photo © 2005 Fritz Borchert

He took the lead in game four too, but when Kneipp knotted it at 10, it appeared another marathon tiebreaker might be in order. But after an extended break at 11-10 match ball, to wipe the sweat-wet floor, Lincou finished it off fast and had escaped with his life. A well played and disappointing night for Kneipp.

Lengthorn Overpowers Omneya, While It's 15 Up For Vanessa
English qualifier Laura-Jane Lengthorn captured a notable scalp on the opening day of action in the women's Sheikha Al Saad Kuwait Open Squash Championships when she toppled seventh-seeded Egyptian Omneya Abdel Kawy to reach the last eight of the second WISPA World Tour Grand Prix event of the year, on Green Island, Kuwait.

In the men's event, which is also dedicated to the memory of Sheikha Al Sa'ad Al-Sabah, a member of the Kuwaiti Royal family who died two years ago, defending champion Peter Nicol took just 29 minutes to overcome fellow left-hander Mansoor Zaman to reach the quarter-finals.

Lengthorn, the world No21 from Preston in Lancashire, had never before beaten Kawy, ranked 12 places higher - but recovered from a game down to upset the 19-year-old world junior champion 6-9 9-4 2-9 9-3 9-2 in 52 minutes.

"I am just delighted," said the 21-year-old afterwards. "I have never beaten Omneya before and I think she cracked here. I won the fourth game quite well and the fifth went my way a bit at the start. I knew I could take it if I stayed strong and kept playing my own game."

Lengthorn now takes on Malaysia's Nicol David - Kawy's predecessor as world junior champion - after the fourth seed despatched New Zealand's Shelley Kitchen 10-8 9-3 9-5 in 35 minutes.

Natalie Grainger advanced ; photo © 2005 Fritz Borchert

Second seed Vanessa Atkinson notched up her 15th successive match win on the WISPA Tour when she beat Scottish qualifier Pamela Nimmo 9-7 9-2 9-3 in 27 minutes to make amends for her surprise first round loss at the same stage last year. The in-form woman player of the moment, Atkinson clinched the World Open title in the final event of last year, then won the Tournament of Champions crown in New York last month to extend her unbeaten run.

In a grudge match with importance for selection of the English national team, the all-Yorkshire first round battle between eighth seed Jenny Tranfield and unseeded Jenny Duncalf, turned into a marathon. In their last meeting Tranfield defeated Duncalf. This time, they played to a virtually dead-heat, but the final result was reversed, as Duncalf caused the second upset in the women's event to beat Tranfield 8-10 9-7 2-9 9-4 10-9 in an 86-minute marathon. Duncalf's reward is a quarter-final clash with Atkinson.

In the men's event, fourth seed Nicol's 11-10 11-6 11-1 victory over Pakistan's Mansoor Zaman takes the former world No1 through to a quarter-final meeting with Australia's Anthony Ricketts, the last person to beat the Englishman on the PSA Tour. Ricketts prevailed in the last eight of the Tournament of Champions in New York before going on to pick up the first Super Series title of his career.

Ricketts was made to work hard for his first round victory. The seventh-seeded Australian was taken to five games by qualifier Mohammed Abbas before beating the Egyptian 10-11 11-3 11-7 8-11 11-4 in 64 minutes.

In the first of the final two games of the night, Australia's third seed David Palmer extinguished local interest in the event when he despatched wild-carded Kuwaiti Abdullah Almezayen 11-9 11-6 11-5 in just 23 minutes.

RESULTS: Sheikha Al Saad Kuwait Open Squash Championships, Green Island, Kuwait

Men's 1st round:    [complete draw]
[1] Thierry Lincou (FRA) bt Joseph Kneipp (AUS) 10-11 (7-9), 11-8, 11-9, 11-10 (2-0) (82m)
[8] Karim Darwish (EGY) bt Adrian Grant (ENG) 11-9, 11-8, 11-6 (42m)
[4] Peter Nicol (ENG) bt [Q] Mansoor Zaman (PAK) 11-10 (3-1), 11-6, 11-1 (29m)
[7] Anthony Ricketts (AUS) bt [Q] Mohammed Abbas (EGY) 10-11 (5-7), 11-3, 11-7, 8-11, 11-4 (64m)
[6] James Willstrop (ENG) bt Ong Beng Hee (MAS) 11-1, 11-10 (3-1), 11-4 (29m)
[3] David Palmer (AUS) bt Abdullah Almezayen (KUW) 11-9, 11-6, 11-5 (23m)
[5] Amr Shabana (EGY) bt [Q] Wael El Hindi (EGY) 6-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-8 (42m)
[2] Lee Beachill (ENG) bt [Q] Davide Bianchetti (ITA) 11-7, 11-9, 11-1 (40m)
Women's 1st round:   [complete draw]
[1] Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt Vicky Botwright (ENG) 6-9, 9-7, 10-8, 9-4 (80m)
[5] Linda Elriani (ENG) bt [Q] Alison Waters (ENG) 9-6, 5-9, 10-8, 9-3 (60m)
[4] Nicol David (MAS) bt Shelley Kitchen (NZL) 10-8, 9-3, 9-5 (35m)
[Q] Laura-Jane Lengthorn (ENG) bt [7] Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) 6-9, 9-4, 2-9, 9-3, 9-2 (52m)
[6] Natalie Grainger (USA) bt [Q] Tania Bailey (ENG) 9-0, 2-9, 9-3, 9-7 (36m)
[3] Natalie Grinham (AUS) bt Fiona Geaves (ENG) 9-1, 9-10, 9-5, 9-1 (44m)
Jenny Duncalf (ENG) bt [8] Jenny Tranfield (ENG) 8-10, 9-7, 2-9, 9-4, 10-9 (86m)
[2] Vanessa Atkinson (NED) bt [Q] Pamela Nimmo (SCO) 9-7, 9-2, 9-3 (27m)



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