Dec 16, 2003
Pulls Off Upset of the Year
 Davide Bianchetti
(ITA) bt  Peter Nicol (ENG) 11-15, 12-15, 15-7, 15-4, 15-10 (67m)
Normally we try to focus
the Team Kneipp articles on what goes on behind the scenes, trying
to avoid simply writing about match results and how someone won.
The only time that I’ll write result-based articles is at tournaments
that Martin Bronstein or Colin McQuillan don’t attend, like Qatar.
None of the usual reporters are here in Lahore so I intended to
cover some of the games. The problem is I am still Joe’s coach and
trainer and that naturally takes precedence.
We had a 3pm training
hit scheduled for today. I had not planned to watch any of today’s
matches and was going to write about the security involved here
(we are being protected by an army of men that would defeat New
Zealand’s armed forces). On the way to our training hit we had shared
the van with Davide Bianchetti as he went to play his 2nd round
match against world #1 Peter Nicol. I got back from hitting and
found that he had beaten Nicol in five, creating the greatest upset
of the year. I hadn’t seen the match, but had to find out what went
John White had watched
the first three games of this match so I tracked him down and asked
him to tell me how the match went. Despite having long and arduous
negotiations with his temporary manager (McWhitey senior flew in
from Alligator Creek just for the business dealings — three beers
ended up being the asking price), I got McWhitey’s version of the
To give you a bit of
background on Bianchetti he is the number one Italian player and
has spent the last five years ranked in the 40s and 50s. For the
last 3 months he has finally broken the 30s, sitting at #35 for
December’s ranking. He has had wins in PSA tournaments over Gaultier,
Rodney Durbach, Renan Lavigne, Stefan Castelyn and Nick Taylor.
The only time he has
played Peter Nicol in PSA was last year at the World Open in Antwerp,
also in the 2nd round. The Italian lost that encounter 15-8, 15-4,
15-13. He has beaten McWhitey in the Europeans Team Championships
and beaten Palmer before (this year in Bundesliga against an injured
Palmer, and before that when Palmer’s ranking was in the 20s or
30s), but he hasn?t beaten them in a PSA match when there is more
Bianchetti is no chump
with a racquet. He can be a bit of a head-case and can self explode
on court, but he has a great squash arsenal. He is tall and long
limbed and uses his reach to great advantage. He is a very relaxed,
funny and enjoyable bloke to be around. McWhitey spotted him in
the restaurant at the table across from us as we were discussing
the upset. He shouted out to him "What happened? " Bianchetti
deadpanned "I don’t know! Neither of us turned up for the match
so it was a forfeit. My name was down first on the list so I won."
Not many guys can just have the best victory of their career and
joke about it like that.
Nicol looked in control as normal in the first game. Bianchetti
was making too many mistakes, but Nicol was moving the ball around
well and doing his usual impressive court coverage. Apparently though
his interest and concentration wasn’t as impressive as usual. 15-11
Nicol was down 10-6 in
the 2nd. At 10-8 there was an enormously long rally in which both
players had to work incredibly hard, with Bianchetti probably doing
more. After the rally the Italian was bent over with his hands on
his knees breathing deeply and giving Nicol a look and smile that
said "I really didn’t need that." It seemed to be a breaking
point and Nicol closed the game out from there winning 15-12.
The work that Nicol had
to do to win the 2nd game began to show in the 3rd. Bianchetti went
up 6-3 and from here it seemed that Nicol was happy to concede the
game to have a rest. He went for winners and many of them didn’t
come off. Apparently he was looking tired and stressed. Bianchetti
won comfortably 15-7.
Nicol losing the third
game isn’t that strange. He’ll quite often lose the third game having
a rest while the other guy tires himself. What was strange was that
he lost the fourth in similar fashion (15-4). Suddenly it became
obvious that Nicol wasn’t reserving his energy to close the match
out, it was that he was spent, and Bianchetti closed out the fifth
game to win the match.
I tracked Bianchetti
down to get his version of the match. I asked him what the difference
was between playing Nicol in the World Open 2002, and the World
Open 2003. As you can expect from a bloke like Bianchetti he was
considerably humble considering the upset he had just caused. He
said it wasn’t the same Nicol that he played last year. In 2002
the Englishman was just too good, too fit and a better player. This
year Bianchetti saw chinks in the armour and was able to expose
Here is how Bianchetti
said the match unfolded (with me patching up his Italian-English
"In the first two
games he moved normally, I was playing alright. At about ten – all
in both games he won the crucial points. He was playing and moving
alright. Maybe not as good as normal.
"In the third and
fourth he wasn’t moving very well, particularly to the front. I
started thinking I could win; I could see he was struggling to change
direction, particularly going to his forehand at the front. I tried
to move him to the front with no mistakes.
"We played about
half games in the third and fourth and he started going for winners
and not getting them. He was not trying his hardest.
"In the fifth he
tried to play properly again but was still struggling with his movement.
He was not in it. It was difficult for him to rally. We were at
seven-all in the fifth. He started making mistakes. At thirteen
to ten to me I played a drop shot and he asked for a let. It was
no let. I thought it was a tough decision. If they said let I wouldn’t
have argued. I went up 14-10."
I asked Bianchetti if
he though about winning. He said, "I didn’t think about winning.
I had the chance and I didn’t want to have to think back later about
missing it. I just concentrated."
To win the match the
Italian played a drop shot to the forehand. Nicol counter dropped
and Davide smashed a crosscourt. Nicol was looking for the drive
and the ball sailed past him for a winner.
I asked Bianchetti how
he reacted. "I have a lot of respect for Peter and what he
has done." he said. "So I didn’t feel like shouting and
screaming, but I was very happy inside. Maybe he’s not playing his
best, but I took my chance."
Even though it was undoubtedly
Bianchetti’s best result, he said he didn’t play his best squash.
The match scores are
televised live on the internet. When Bianchetti called home to his
dad, who is extremely passionate about squash and organises a PSA
tournament every year, he had already followed the result on the
web. Davide said ten minutes after they talked his dad had called
half of the town to tell them the news.
 Davide Bianchetti (ITA) bt  Peter Nicol (ENG) 11-15, 12-15,
15-7, 15-4, 15-10 (67m)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt  Rodney Durbach (RSA) 15-10,
5-15, 15-11, 10-15, 15-11 (87m)
 Karim Darwish (EGY) bt  James Willstrop (ENG) 15-11, 15-13,
8-15, 7-15, 15-9 (70m)
 Olli Tuominen (FIN) bt  Mansoor Zaman (PAK) 11-15, 15-10,
15-8, 17-15 (44m)
 David Palmer (AUS) bt  Moh’d Azlan Iskandar (MAS) 15-8,
15-9, 15-11 (33m)
 Amr Shabana (EGY) bt Peter Genever (ENG) 15-6, 15-9, 11-15,
 Anthony Ricketts (AUS) bt  Wael El Hindi (EGY) 15-5, 15-6,
 Mohammed Abbas (EGY) bt  Simon Parke (ENG) 5-15, 15-7,
15-7, 15-5 (46m)