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The
$125,000 Qatar Classic:
Report Card

December
1 ,
2005: by Team Kneipp (kah-nipe)         
Matthews

Willstrop held off Anthony Ricketts .  Photo © 2005
Fritz Borchert

The silly season’s first major has finished. Here are our
opinions on who was a star and who was stifled (relative to their seeding
of course).

Champagne
and Strawberries:
James Willstrop

Obviously. This isn’t his first major title. He won last year’s
Pakistan Open, but that feats wanes in comparison with this event because
Qatar is much bigger and unlike the 2004 Pakistan Open the top players
(Lincou, Nicol, Beachill and White) are present. Willstrop cruised through
the field in a manner that only Jonathan Power and White at the top of
his game are usually capable of doing. Only dropping one game against
opponents like Parke, Matthew, Gough, Ricketts and Palmer is spectacular.

David Palmer
Palmer was seeded 3 for this tournament, so making the final is not such
an unexpected feat, but for the three tournaments he played to start
the season off (English, St Louis and British Open) he had fairly ordinary
results. He has obviously timed his training perfectly as shown by
his final appearance at the US Open and now Qatar.

Alex Gough

Matthews

Bianchetti (l) and Gough had good
tourneys.  Photo © 2005 Fritz Borchert

Giving hope to us old-timers and joining Walker and Parke in the exclusive
club of 35 year old war horses. He first had to qualify, then he beat
Beachill in straight games, then fellow qualifier Bianchetti before
falling to Willstrop in the quarters. A great tournament.

Davide Bianchetti
Bianchetti’s first round upset of Shahid Zaman after qualifying
says more about the inconsistency of Shahid, but it’s very important
for a player to take advantage of a fortunate draw when it comes your
way. Davide did this well.

Ong Beng hee
His first round upset of Graham Ryding was another step towards his return
to the top 10.

Gregory Gaultier
Defeated Amr Shabana in the second round and very nearly beat Palmer
in the quarters. A bit more concentration, intensity or fitness at
the end of these matches will get him across the line.

Stewart Boswell
We’re going to be able to stop referring to him as a qualifier
as he’ll be back in the top 20 after this tournament. He defeated
Iskandar and then Power on the way to a quarterfinal appearance, but
was thrashed by Ricketts who obviously knows his game better than anyone
and was able to exploit his big tournament inexperience.

Vinegar
and Rotten Tomatoes:

Lee Beachill
Lost in the first round to Alex Gough. At the moment Beachill tends to
either have a spectacular tournament or a spectacularly bad tournament,
his motivation and hunger being the deciding factor.

Peter Nicol
Lost in the 2nd round to John White. The significance of this 2nd round
defeat is more about White and Nicol’s ranking than whether Nicol
played bad squash. Normally these two wouldn’t meet until the
semi finals and it’s never a huge surprise when one beats the
other. Nicol making the second round of a big tournament isn’t
a good result for him, but losing to John White doesn’t mean
much.

Graham
Ryding, Amr Shabana, Shahid Zaman and Jonathon Power
All lost
early against the seeding.

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