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Qatar:
The Final Analysis

April
29, 2002 by Joe Kneipp

Another tournament is finished. When there
are plenty of tournaments following after each other, which has been the case
recently (Pakistan Open, British Open, Qatar), if the event hasn’t been as
successful as hoped, it’s easy to concentrate on the next one rather than
dwelling too much on lost chances. Sometimes it’s crucial for maintaining
a positive outlook to learn from a loss, but also to move past it and not
think about it too much.

Joe Kneipp attacks
Peter Nicol (in Boston)

I’ve definitely had my chances recently
and perhaps not capitalised on them or been unable to get the best result.
In Pakistan I played Thiery Lincou in the first round. We had played a few
weeks earlier in Dutch league (I play for Zwolle) and I had won comfortably
3-0. He may have been tired from the French National championships that he
had just won, but the league win still helped my confidence. In Pakistan I
won the first game 17-16, but in doing so pulled a muscle in my Glutius Maximus
(bum). I tried playing the next two games., but it was pointless. I was unable
to lunge properly, and the standard is so similar a the top of professional
squash that a seemingly minor injury like that makes a win nearly impossible.

In the British Open I played Stewart
Boswell in the first round. I led 10-7 in the fifth game, but couldn’t close
the match out and lost. I’m not taking this opportunity to whinge and whine
and carry on like a bad loser, but trying to show that there are different
circumstances that help determine if a tournament has been a success. These
factors can include your form, the form of your opponent and how the match
affects your rankings. Rankings are an average derived from your tournaments
over twelve months. Provided you exceed your average, your ranking should
continue in the right direction. So some players will determine the success
of a tournament simply by how it affects their ranking. Other factors come
into play, like how you went for the same month last year, but that’s a general
overview.

So going on my form and my opponents form
and rankings, how successful have the last three tournaments been? Thierry
and Stewart are two of the in-form players at the moment, but in both Pakistan
and the British I still expected to win and saw that as my first and most
important goal for the tournaments. Injury in Pakistan was never expect and
always a very disappointing way to lose. I should have closed out my game
with Stewart in the British, but credit also goes to him for continuing to
fight so hard. So I didn’t consider either tournament to be a success.

So how do I rate Qatar? My first goal
was to get past Chris Walker. I’m sure his goals were the same: win your first
match, then re-evaluate from there. I did that and then faced Peter Nicol.
Never an easy prospect, but I know there’s little difference between winning
and losing against him in our matches at the moment. A win is getting closer
all the time. So for this tournament I bettered my average, but I didn’t really
achieve anything more than I was hoping. Not a highly successful tournament,
but not a failure either.

So who do I think had a successful tournament?
Who is sitting on a plane at the moment with a slightly larger smile and ordering
an extra complimentary drink?

Jonathon Power of course.
He would have gone to the tournament expecting to win, but there’s a big difference
between expecting to do something and actually achieving it.

Stewart Boswell – He was
seeded to lose in the quarter finals. He has been one of the in-form players
for the last six months. In this tournament he beat Graham Ryding, Alex Gough
(who retired injured), Lee Beachill, David Palmer and nearly Jonathon Power
in the final. Not much more you can do in a tournament.

Karim Darwish – Beat Del
Harris in the first round, then in the battle of the former world junior champions
had a great win over Ong Beng Hee. I didn’t see his quarter final loss to
Peter Nicol, but heard second-hand that he should have won the third game,
but only Peter’s extraordinary retrievals and relentlessness won him the game
and the match.

Amr Shabana – At the start
of Qatar we were discussing together the fortunes of his tournament draw.
I’ll go into this in more detail in a later column, but you can get fortunate
and unfortunate draws depending on who you have to play and when. What one
player sees as a good draw another will not, depending on your style of game
and who you like playing. Shabana is one of the best shot makers in the game.
He beat Paul Johnson in the first round and Shahid Zaman in a fierce display
of attacking shots in the second round. He lost to Jonathon Power in the third.
Heaven help us when Shabana gets it into his head that he can beat anyone.

Nick Taylor – Nick lost
in the second round as I did. I think this was a successful tournament because
of all the reasons I stated at the start. He did quite a bit better than his
average, but more importantly Martin Health (who he beat in the first round)
has been in great form at the Pakistan and British Opens. I was warming up
for my first game while Nick and Martin were playing. Martin won the first
two games and looked like he was going to finish the match. I didn’t see the
end as my game started, but for Nick to grind out a win from two love down
is always impressive.

So that’s the break down of Qatar from
my perspective. Team Kneipp returns to Amsterdam with a small break before
we resume training at Squash World. It was such a treat to be in sunny hot
weather in Doha, which we took great advantage of.

The rumours of me and Dan playing 36 holes
of the Doha Championship golf course in one day are true, and also of Danny
driving a 270 yard par four and sinking the eagle put. It’ll be great to be
back in Qatar later in the year for the Classic.

 

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