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Nicol and Nicol are winners
Mar 11, 2005, by Howard Harding
SquashTalk Independent News Service © 2005 all Rights Reserved;





Top Seeds Crash In Kuwait

Nicol David (left) started slow but ended with a big upset win over Rachael Grinham, photo © 2005 Fritz Borchert

After a second day of rain-affected matches in the Sheikha Al Saad Kuwait Open Squash Championships, all four top seeds crashed out at the semi-final stages today (Friday) in Kuwait City.

The first game of the first women's semi-final was completed on the all-glass open-air showcourt on Green Island - before the heavens opened and play was transferred for the second time in 24 hours onto the conventional courts at Kuwait City's Salmiya Club.

The balance of power was also dramatically reversed, for after top-seeded Australian Rachael Grinham forged a 9-0 advantage over her opponent Nicol David on Green Island, it was the fourth-seeded Malaysian who settled into the new environment more readily as she wrapped up a sensational 0-9 9-7 9-4 9-7 victory in 52 minutes to reserve her unexpected place in the women's final.

"I was comfortable as soon as I got back on the courts I had been playing on all week," David admitted. "The rain was my friend today. Rachael just didn't settle after the second start," added the 21-year-old from Penang on the eve of her 15th WISPA World Tour final appearance.

Thierry Lincou stopped by a determined Peter Nicol, photo © 2005 Fritz Borchert

Her surprise opponent will be Natalie Grainger, the sixth seed from the USA who ended the unbeaten 16-match run of second Vanessa Atkinson by beating the Netherlands star 10-8 9-7 1-9 8-10 9-5 in 57 minutes.

Shocks shattered the seedings in the men's event too when Australia's third seed David Palmer upset second-seeded Englishman Lee Beachill 11-7 11-9 9-11 11-3 in 55 minutes to reverse the result of their last meeting in the World Open in December. Palmer, celebrating his 33rd PSA Tour final appearance, will meet his third England team member in the event when he takes on fourth seed Peter Nicol.

Nicol, the defending champion who saved six match balls against Australia's Anthony Ricketts to reach the semi-finals, maintained his remarkable staying power to overcome France's top seed and world No1 Thierry Lincou 11-3 11-4 7-11 11-10 in 64 minutes to reach his 69th PSA final.

Thus the indefatigable 31-year-old who is undefeated in the Kuwait Open in eight years (after winning the 97, 98 and 2004 events) now stands one match away from a remarkable golden milestone: his 50th PSA Tour title.
Men's semi-finals:       [Complete men's draw]
[4] Peter Nicol (ENG) bt [1] Thierry Lincou (FRA) 11-3, 11-4, 7-11, 11-10 (2-0) (64m)
[3] David Palmer (AUS) bt [2] Lee Beachill (ENG) 11-7, 11-9, 9-11, 11-3 (55m)

Women's semi-finals:      [Complete women's draw]
[4] Nicol David (MAS) bt [1] Rachael Grinham (AUS) 0-9, 9-7, 9-4, 9-7 (52m)
[6] Natalie Grainger (USA) bt [2] Vanessa Atkinson (NED) 10-8, 9-7, 1-9, 8-10, 9-5 (57m)

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