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The
Kneipps Preview Qatar: Bottom Half

[
also see "top half" preview]

November
20, 2005:
by Team Kneipp (kah-nipe)         

Two
months of globe trotting squash madness begins this week with the Qatar
Classic. Here’s how the bottom half of the
first round pans out in our opinion.

ADRIAN
GRANT versus 12* NICK MATTHEW

Matthews

Nick Matthew: Had strong appearances
all summer and fall  Photo © 2005
Fritz Borchert

Matthew
is ranked 11, but has spent virtually all of the past 18 months between
5 and 9. Grant is currently 18, has been as high as 12. Matthew has
lost one first round match this year (to El Hindi), whereas Grant has
lost more first rounds than he has won (five to four). The only encounter
between Grant and Matthew was 2002 which Grant won, and 2004 which
Matthew won. It’s certainly won’t be headline
news if Grant wins, but maybe a little surprising.

8*
JAMES WILLSTROP Plays Qualifier
4

Qualifier
5 Plays 16* SHAHID ZAMAN

Qualifier
6 Plays 4* LEE BEACHILL

Qualifier
7 Plays 15* OLLI TUOMINEN

WAEL
EL HINDI Versus 7* ANTHONY RICKETTS

Matthews

Ricketts is Riding High.  Photo © 2005
Debra Tessier

Ricketts’ recent British Open title, added to his TOC victory
earlier in the year have pushed him to a career best of 3 this month,
his first time in the top 4. In theory that means easier draws, but because
the seeding of this tournament was done last month, he’s seeded
7th for this tournament and is scheduled to meet a top 4 seed (Power)
in the quarters. El Hindi is also at a career best and poised to break
the top twenty at 21.

El
Hindi has lost three first round matches this year, Ricketts has lost
one. Ricketts has won three of their four PSA encounters, but the most
recent one was 2003 and a lot has happened since then. El Hindi’s
game hasn’t increased dramatically in this period, whereas Ricketts
has gone from strength to strength, increasing his consistency, cutting
down on his error rate and most importantly controlling his on court
reactions so they work for him, not against him. A victory for El Hindi
will be a surprise.

13*
MOHD AZLAN ISKANDAR plays Qualifier
8

JOSEPH
KNEIPP Versus 2* JONATHON POWER

Kneipp versus Power
Power ranking of the past few years inversely mirrors Nicol’s.
Nicol was a rock of consistency in 2003 and 2004, spending most of it
at 1, but his ranking is slowly sliding, now closer to 10 than 1. In
2003 and 2004 Power lost his grip on the world #2 spot and just managed
to stop himself sliding out of the top 10. He’s now back at #2.

Matthews

Power, the Dive Guy, Firmly reestablished
at #2.  Photo © 2005
Debra Tessier

To do this Power has won 8 out of 8 first round matches this year, has
progressed to at least the semis for 7 of them, and has won all three
of the finals he made.

We’ve
had a 12 month slide from a career high #10, to currently being #20.
Something needs to be done quickly to stop us going out of the top
20 for the first time in three and a half years, but the draws for
the tournaments haven’t been exactly favourable. As soon as you
go out of the top 16 you get a seeded player in the first round. Obviously
you hope to play the world #16, rather than the #1, but Power in Qatar,
Beachill in Hong Kong and Lincou in Saudi Arabia is reasonably unfavourable.

Team Kneipp has only won two out of seven first round matches, hence
the ranking slide.

Power
has won four out of our five encounters, with the one loss being years
ago. He’ll go into this match as raging favourite, which
should take some pressure off me and mean that I’m more likely
to play better and create a possibility of an upset, but anyone who knows
me knows I’ll try my darndest to negate that advantage.

THE
BOSWELL FACTOR


The
final crucial question to finish the preview is the unknown Boswell
factor.

Lincou,
Palmer, Shabana, Willstrop, Shahid Zaman, Tuominen and Iskandar all
have qualifiers and will be hoping they don’t
have him in the first round.
Lincou, Palmer, Willstrop and Zaman have all lost to him before, Tuominen
and Iskandar haven’t played him before which probably works in
Boswell’s favour, while Shabana has won the only encounter he and
Boswell have had.

No
one will beat Boswell in three, but Palmer, Shabana and Willstrop will
enter the match as favourites. Lincou should obviously be included
in that group of course, but he’s a notoriously slow starter in
tournaments and won’t want that kind of challenge early on. We’d
expect Zaman, Tuominen and Iskandar to make an early departure if they
draw Boswell, but we’ve been wrong plenty of times before
.

Kneipp’s
SquashTalk Forum

Feedback:
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or comments, please email us at dan@teamkneipp.com.
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