this James Willstrop’s Week?
(Photo © 2005
The other 16 players that make up the Liverpool 08 Open, and their first
round matches are:
Stewart Boswell (AUS) v Qualifier:
is currently ranked 16. I’m not going to talk about his
form/return from injury because if you’re interested in squash
enough to read our article, then you already know about it. Boswell now
needs to get down to the serious business of getting back into the top
8, and top 4. To do that he has to start making some quarter finals and
semi finals. Since his return he has only had one victory over a top
10 player, beating Beachill in last year’s British Open, a figure
he needs to improve.
Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Qualifier:
Gaultier’s ranking for this tournament is 10. He has been ranked
around 10 for most of the past 3 years. Please refer to the notes on
Nick Matthew in the Top Half preview for what we think of Gaultier’s
Ong Beng Hee (MAS) v Renan Lavigne (FRA):
Bengy, ranked 14, is moving back in the right direction. In Bermuda
he beat Anthony Ricketts in the 2nd round and described it as his best
That’s because even when he was ranked 7 in the world
he didn’t have a victory over a top 4 player, something he has now managed
with his victory over Ricketts. That victory should bring with it a boost
in confidence and therefore an improved game.
Lavigne is ranked 31, but has been ranked in the high teens before.
He was in the position on Saturday of being able to win the European
Team Championships for France if he was able to beat Lee Beachill, a
bit of a tall order, and too much to ask of him. It will be interesting
to see if that experience has left him disappointed, tired, motivated
or if he just continues on as normal. My money is on business as usual.
guys haven’t played in a PSA match before. It’ll
be a big surprise if Lavigne wins this (and quite a set back to Bengy’s
return to the top).
Thierry Lincou (FRA) v Qualifier:
Lincou is ranked 4 for this tournament. For the last five tournaments
that he played he lost to either Amr Shabana or Anthony Ricketts. He
would have been very pleased to see that they are holidaying this week,
and even happier to see his bogey player Nicol also not attending.
It’s going to be difficult for Bengy and Boswell to prevent this
being a Gaelic quarterfinal, but Boswell versus Bengy in the quarters
wouldn’t be impossible. This is easily being the toughest quarter.
Boswell is a bit unlucky to have to get past an in-form Gaultier, and
both Bengy and Lincou would have preferred to meet someone else in the
2nd round. This quarter should produce some fireworks and good squash.
Semi finalist prediction – you can’t go past Lincou, but
he’s certainly not a certainty.
Joe Kneipp Rebound in Liverpool (Photo © 2005 Debra Tessier)
Peter Barker (ENG) v Joseph Kneipp (AUS):
Team Kneipp was expecting to have to qualify for this event. 2001 was
the last time we played in a qualification tournament, and will quite
happily never do it again, thank you very much. For that to happen this
has to be a good tournament, with many ranking points ,which means no
more first round losses, a bird-flu-like squash disease sweeping through
the Team Kneipp camp at the moment.
Barker is ranked 24, compared to our 29, so on paper it shoudl be close.
Barker is a few places away from his career best, but I think we’ll
see him in the top 20 very soon. He has just returned from a victorious
debut with the English team, winning the European Team Championships.
last tournament that I saw Barker play in England he was pretty sick
– blocked up, snotty and flu-ey, yet he still caused upsets, so even
if he’s tired and run-down from all of the squash in Vienna
it probably won’t matter.
only PSA encounter was in 2004, which I won, but Barker’s
squash has come on considerably since then. We’ve had a couple
of league matches against each other recently. He won Eredivisie (Dutch
league) and I won Bundesliga (German league), although I believe he wasn’t
100% fit in Deutschland.
Karim Darwish (EGY) v Qualifier:
is currently ranked 11, the ranking neighbourhood that he has settled
in for the past three years. Please see Gregory Gaultier’s
write up as to what our opinion is on this.
Shahid Zaman (PAK) v Joey Barrington (ENG):
is ranked 22 and Barrington 30, so on paper this should be a good match.
It doesn’t always work like that though. What’s
more likely to make it a good match is Barrington likes long attritional
matches and Shahid prefers to go for winners. These two met in the
final of a medium sized tournament in Pakistan, with Shahid winning
in four. The current generation of Pakistani players are notorious
for playing well at their home tournaments, and not very well everywhere
else, meaning Barrington could easily go into this match as favourite.
James Willstrop (ENG) v Qualifier:
is currently ranked 3, which is one off his best. It’s
not a huge ranking jump for Willstrop to regain the #2 ranking spot,
but there’s daylight between his current ranking and #1. He’ll
need to win a couple of big tournaments to close that gap (something
he’s capable of mind you).
Shabana’s absence gives Willstrop
the boost in this tournament to the number two seed.
what do we predict for a quarterfinal match up from this group? No
one has ever accused us of being neutral, unbiased (some would even
say accurate for that matter), so let’s go with Kneipp screaming though
this quarter on his way to final glory. Sure, more pragmatic squash fans
would say it will almost certainly be an exciting quarter final between
Darwish and Willstrop, but until those fans pry my fat little fingers
off the keyboard, I’m sticking with my story.
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