TAKE THEIR TOLL
was electric at Toronto’s BCE Place as the quarterfinals took centre stage
for the Pace Savings and Credit Union Canadian Squash Classic. There was
not a seat, aisle, nook or cranny to be had as Wednesday’s action was
completely Sold Out.
the match everyone wanted to see involved Canadian Jonathon Power up against
his longtime English rival Peter Nicol. What made this encounter, their
39th, extra special was the fact that they were squaring off in the early
rounds for a change. You see these two have pretty much dominated the
sport for the past five years or so meaning they were at opposite ends
of the draw not normally meeting until the final. Thus considering the
rigors of tournament play the player who had more left in the tank as
a result of an easier trip through his half generally ended up the victor.
Not since 1995 in Hong Kong had Power and Nicol faced each other in the
2nd round of a major tournament. This one had the potential to be one
of their best meetings ever.
It was 2:00PM local time ( 5hrs before their match) and I managed to corner
Nicol and got his perspective as he prepared for their encounter.
looked really good Monday night" Nicol stated "He was looking
quick, looking strong, he obviously loves playing here having won three
of the four times. I’m just coming back from an injury so it will be interesting
to see how I’ll feel I don’t know. I think it’s going to be tough for
me tonight with these past circumstances. Obviously I’m hoping to win,
I’m trying to win, whenever I step onto the court I’m going to be trying
my hardest, we’ll just have to see"
Well I for one was amazed by Power’s play in this match. Game #1 saw him
build an early 4-1 lead and checking my notes I have written that he was
jerking Nicol around like a puppet on a string. After only the first five
points of the opening game it was that apparent that Nicol was not yet
up to par while Power was operating on all cylinders. Power raced away
to a 9-4 advantage and coasted home 11-7.
Game #2 featured more of the same. Power could do no wrong. His bread
n’ butter, the backhand volley drop, was paper tight to both the front
and side walls keeping Nicol on the defensive. Something young James Willstrop
witnessed a couple of nights earlier and when I asked him about Power’s
form Willstrop replied "Jonathon was definitely ready for me Monday
night. He stopped me from playing my game and he prevented me from attacking.
He was playing at a very fast pace, keeping it really tight, he looked
sharp, quick and was simply too good for me." Power built a 9-5 lead
against Nicol and took the 2nd by an 11-7 score as well.
Now by the time Game #3 began I wonder if Nicol must have felt that tonight
just wasn’t his night and perhaps he should begin focusing on the upcoming
World Open? Power wrapped this up in straight games moving on thru to
the semis with an uncontested easy 11-2 victory.
match he commented on this big win, "I felt comfortable moving out
there, my hitting was probably as good as it’s been in a long time. About
7-2 in the third game I felt Peter threw in the towel. I think he was
frustrated as I was moving well and he wasn’t finding any quick points
and I felt like I got the T away from him. I was holding the ball and
snapping it past him and my drops were working forcing him to cover that
Not to be outdone, fellow Canadian Graham Ryding, who just happens to
be the Canadian National Champion booked himself a slot in Thursday’s
semi-final showdown as well. Ryding defeated Aussie Paul Price in 3 straight
games with Price shaking hands in the 3rd and retiring with Ryding up
talk is that Price’s back is giving him grief and his squash days are
pretty much numbered as he prepares to get serious about a music career.
Regardless, Ryding played well and was fully deserving of this win. Ryding
said afterwards, "It’s sort of tough playing someone when you know
physically he’s not 100% so I was just trying to not let it creep into
my head too much and focus on my own game."
Injuries or players getting re-injured became a common theme on this night.
In the first quarterfinal match of the evening it was England’s World
#1 Lee Beachill providing absolutely no challenge to Australia’s Anthony
Rickett’s. Beachill’s injury is with his right leg, his abductor, and
he will be rehabbing extensively between now and next month’s World Open
as failure to appear could see his #1 status disappear. Rickett’s must
feel blessed. A first round walkover, then facing an injured opponent
and he’s in the semis. Just one problem though. He plays Power and I remember
them squaring off last year in Edmonton at the CDN. Open and the two almost
had fisticuffs when Ricketts struck Power with the ball. This one will
be physical. I can hardly wait.
And finally, The events #2 seed the flamboyant Frenchman Thierry Lincou
was in a dogfight with yet another Aussie Joe Kneipp. It was a good match
until Kneipp retired with you guessed it, an injury. This one is of the
serious nature. Kneipp said "I pulled my glute at the British and
I reinjured it Sunday when I was practicing with Darwish. When it was
9-10 in the 2nd I felt it really go. There’s no sense playing and risking
further injury so I decided that I had better stop. I think it’s shredded."
Lincou will face Ryding in the other semi and mark my words, this one
has upset written all over it.
Anthony Ricketts(Aus) defeats Lee Beachill(Eng) 3-0 (11-4, 11-6, 11-2)
Jonathon Power(Can) defeats Peter Nicol(Eng) 3-0 (11-7, 11-7, 11-2)
Thierry Lincou(Fra) defeats Joseph Kneipp(Aus) 3-0 (11-7, 14-12, 2-1rtd)
Graham Ryding(Can) defeats Paul Price(Aus) 3-0 (11-8, 11-6, 8-0 rtd)
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