PSA World Squash Rankings Jan 1 2004

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Thierry
Lincou – New World #1

Dec 30 2003 by Howard Harding ©
2003
match sequence © 2003 Debra Tessier


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In the
biggest shake-up of the list for many years, Thierry Lincou takes over
the top position in the new January 2004 Dunlop PSA Men’s World Squash
Rankings, announced today (30 December) by the Professional Squash Association
(PSA), to become France’s first world No1.

Only
the seventh player to head the list over the last twenty years, Lincou
ends a two-year unbroken reign at the top by Peter Nicol, the Englishman
who first reached the top spot in February 1998 and achieved a total of
55 months as world No1.

Other
major changes in the New Year list include England’s Lee Beachill rising
five places to a career-high No4; Egypt’s newly-crowned World Open champion
Amr Shabana leaping six places to a best-ever No5; Australia’s Joseph
Kneipp making his debut in the top ten at 10; England’s Nick Matthew soaring
a mighty ten places to register a career-best No11 place; Egypt’s Mohammed
Abbas jumping nine places to a top twenty debut at 16; and England’s world
junior champion James Willstrop vaulting ten positions to make a first
appearance in the top twenty at 18.

Lincou,
27, from Paris, enjoyed a remarkably consistent run on the PSA Tour in
2003, including nine successive semi-final berths and five final appearances
– culminating in his presence in the final of the Bank Alfalah World Open
ten days ago in Lahore, Pakistan.

Cairo-based
Shabana, 24, produced the result of the year when he knocked out four
higher-seeded players to lift the World Open crown in Lahore – becoming
not only the lowest-ranked player ever to win the world title in the event’s
27-year history, but also the first Egyptian.

Yorkshireman
Lee Beachill, 26, from Pontefract, scored the best win of his career at
the beginning of the month when he clinched the Qatar Classic title in
Doha – earning his first PSA Super Series title after beating the then
world No1 Peter Nicol in straight games in the quarter-finals, and Scotland’s
world No2 John White in a five-game final marathon.

It has
taken Queenslander Joseph Kneipp almost four years to convert his top
twenty breakthrough in February 2000 into an appearance in the top ten.
The 30-year-old from Brisbane, now based in Amsterdam, is enjoying a career
rejuvenation which led him to this month’s World Open semi-finals after
a convincing upset over second seed John White.

England’s
other young stars of the January list also both hail from Yorkshire –
Sheffield-based Nick Matthew, 23, building on unseeded appearances in
the last eight of the English and US Opens in the summer by reaching the
last four of the Qatar Classic and quarter-finals of the World Open after
significant upsets; and James Willstrop, 20, from Pontefract, achieving
his breakthrough after convincing performances in both Doha and Lahore.

Mohammed
Abbas celebrated his 23rd birthday last week after upsetting higher-seeded
players to achieve last sixteen berths in both the Qatar Classic and World
Open this month.

1 [5]
Thierry Lincou FRA
2 [2] John White SCO
3 [1] Peter Nicol ENG
4 [9] Lee Beachill ENG
5 [11] Amr Shabana EGY
6 [3] David Palmer AUS
7 [4] Jonathon Power CAN
8 [6] Anthony Ricketts AUS
9 [7] Karim Darwish EGY
10 [14] Joseph Kneipp AUS
11 [21] Nick Matthew ENG
12 [10] Gregory Gaultier FRA
13 [8] Ong Beng Hee MAS
14 [13] Graham Ryding CAN
15 [18] Omar Elborolossy EGY
16 [25] Mohammed Abb