World Games 2005
16-19 July Duisburg Germany

FINALS
Nicols Triumph In World Games

Peter Nicol of Great Britain and Nicol David of Malaysia triumphed in the finals at the World Games in Mülheim an der Ruhr in Germany - the Malaysian despatching Australia's world number one Rachael Grinham 9-4 10-8 9-1 in 36 minutes and the British Nicol crushing Frenchman Thierry Lincou, also world number one in the men's game, 9-3 9-0 9-4 in 59 minutes.

Both of the new world title-holders in this IOC-backed multi-sport event were second seeds - and both toppled favourites to take the titles without dropping a game throughout the event. And for former world number one Peter Nicol, the victory marked the 50th major international title of his illustrious career.

Nicol David looked in sparkling form as she took to the new all-glass court in front of a packed crowd at the Sport-Treff-Punkt centre.

Grinham, the 28-year-old from Queensland, opened up a 4-2 lead in the opening game. But David bounced back to race up to game ball at 8-4, before the Australian resisted her first attempt, then succumbed as the Malaysian took the first game.

The favourite looked a different player in the second, forcing her way through to a 4-0 lead, but again Nicol reclaimed the upper hand and clawed back the points to move ahead 7-5. But Grinham was still in the game and took the next three points to reach game ball at 8-7.

However, the ever-more focussed Malaysian saved the point and soon had her own game-ball at 9-8, which she duly converted as the Grinham reply hit the tin.

The 21-year-old former world junior champion from Penang led throughout the third game and, after 36 minutes, clinched her 9-4 10-8 9-1 world title victory - and the first World Games squash gold medal for Malaysia.

"Nicol's been playing really well lately - she was always strong as a junior and always gets everything back. And now her attacking game is getting stronger too," Grinham told the audience afterwards.

"It's always disappointing to lose in a final, but it has been a great week, a great experience and a great atmosphere here," added the Australian.

"I thought I had a pretty good chance in the second game, but in the third she seemed to pick up the pace - she was getting better while I wasn't prepared enough to deal with it."

A beaming Nicol David admitted that winning the World Games title was a huge thing: "I wanted to enjoy myself here - but to become the champion is an honour," said the world number three.

"Playing Rachael is always a big game. But I felt good and played well - I had to make sure she didn't get into her game, and had to really step it up to do that.

"I don't think she was at her best as it's the first tournament of the season - but it was a good build up event for me to prepare for what's to come," added the new champion.

Peter Nicol had said throughout the tournament that he was unsure of how well he would fare as the event has come midway through his summer training schedule. But the performance he displayed against Lincou, the player who has topped the world rankings throughout this year, firmly indicated that the 32-year-old has rediscovered his appetite and enthusiasm for the game.

The Englishman forged a 3-1 lead in the opening game and Lincou fought back to 3-3. But those two points became the last he scored until Nicol was 6-0 up in the third game, when a tired shot into the tin gave the Frenchman his first point on the scoreboard for more than half an hour - an achievement greeted by a cheer from the crowd normally reserved for winners!

Nicol was in devastating form, retrieving almost everything shot that Lincou could put his way. From 1-7 in the third game, Lincou moved ahead to 4-7 as the Briton seemed visibly tired, but once Nicol won back the serve, he immediately regained the upper hand and, at match ball, cracked a low winner to the back of the court that gave him the title.

"Winning my 50th title is a big landmark for me - and I'm really happy," the smiling Londoner told the crowd before the medal presentations. "I didn't quite realise what a big event this was before I got here, but I'm delighted I came and even more delighted that I won."

When the tournament MC suggested to the new champion that he seemed to be in good shape, Nicol replied: "I know - I was surprised myself! Mentally I'm focussed and wanted to play - even though it's in the middle of my summer training period. But I'm looking forward to getting fitter, stronger and better!"

Remarkably Lincou has not beaten Nicol on the PSA Tour for more than four years: "I felt early in the first game that Thierry didn't believe he could beat me tonight. I think he struggles with me," said Nicol.

When asked by a German TV interviewer what his plans now were, Nicol replied with a gleam in his eye: "I believe there's a party this evening - and that's where I'm heading!"

Lincou acknowledged that Nicol has improved since the last time they met: "The key thing is his stamina, his extra endurance - and in these conditions that really makes a difference," said the runner-up.

"He is playing better - he's much stronger at the back of the court, and quicker and more accurate down the walls. It's really hard to create an attacking position against him.

"It shows what a great athlete he is that he can put in a performance like that," added Lincou. "It's clear that he's been training hard - his motivation is amazing.

"But this event has been really good for me in my preparation for the Pakistan Open. I needed some stressful situations."

At the presentation ceremony on court after the men's final, World Squash Federation President Jahangir Khan and the German Squash Federation President Michael Elger presented gold medals to Peter Nicol and Nicol David; silver medals to Thierry Lincou and Rachael Grinham; and bronze medals to losing semi-finalists Nick Matthew, James Willstrop, Linda Elriani - all representing Great Britain - and Egypt's Omneya Abdel Kawy.

Peter Nicol goes through the World Games without dropping a game and beats World Champion Thierry Lincou in the Final.

Malaysia's Nicol David wins the World Games title beating world no.1 Rachael Grinham in the final.

World Games: MEN'S MAIN DRAW
16-19 July,  Duisburg
1st Round
Sat 16 July
Quarters
Sun 17 July
Semis
Mon 18  July
Final
Tues 19 July
[1] Thierry Lincou (FRA)
9-3, 9-2, 9-2 (36m)
Stefan Leifels (GER)
Thierry Lincou
9-2, 9-0, 9-3 (25m)
Hansi Seestaller
Thierry Lincou
3-9, 10-9, 9-3, 9-2 (73m)
Nick Matthew
Peter Nicol
bt
Thierry Lincou
9-3, 9-0, 9-4 (59m)
 
Hansi Seestaller (GER)
9-3, 9-4, 9-4 (35m)
Andreas Fuchs (AUT)
[6] Joseph Kneipp (AUS)
9-10, 9-1, 9-1, 9-0 (41m)
Christian Drakenberg (SWE)
Joseph Kneipp
9-6, 9-6, 9-3 (63m)

Nick Matthew
 
[4] Nick Matthew (GBR)
 7-9, 9-7, 9-0, 9-4 (48m)
Mark Krajcsak (HUN)
[3] James Willstrop (GBR)
9-3, 9-4, 9-6 (44m)
 Patrick Gaessler (GER)
James Willstrop
 10-8, 2-9, 9-1, 9-4 (64m)
 Ong Beng Hee
James Willstrop
 9-2, 9-4, 10-8 (59m)
Peter Nicol
 
[7] Ong Beng Hee (MAS)
6-9, 9-4, 9-4, 9-3 (70m)
Rodney Durbach (RSA)
[5] Karim Darwish (EGY)
9-2, 9-3, 9-2 (40m)
 Eric Galvez (MEX)
Karim Darwish
9-5, 9-6, 9-3 (71m)
Peter Nicol
 
[2] Peter Nicol (GBR)
9-1, 9-1, 9-3 (31m)
Matthew Giuffre (CAN)
 
World Games: WOMEN'S MAIN DRAW
16-19 July,  Duisburg
Round 1
Sat 16 July
Quarters
Sun 17 July
Semis
Mon 18 July
Final
Tues 19 July
[1] Rachael Grinham (AUS)
9-1, 9-1, 9-2 (25m)
 Sonia Pasteris (ITA)
Rachael Grinham
9-2, 9-0, 9-5 (34m)
Jenny Tranfield
Rachael Grinham
9-4, 9-5, 3-9, 9-6 (56m)
Omneya Abdel Kawy
Nicol David
bt
Rachael Grinham
9-4, 10-8, 9-1 (36m)
[5] Jenny Tranfield (ENG)
9-4, 9-5, 9-7 (38m)
Pamela Pancis (AUT)
[8] Runa Reta (CAN)
3-9, 9-7, 6-9, 10-9, 9-1 (80m)
 Karin Beriere (GER)
Runa Reta
9-7, 9-4, 9-2 (28m)
Omneya Abdel Kawy
 
[4] Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY)
9-1, 9-4, 9-4 (25m)
Daniela Schumann (GER)
[3] Linda Elriani (ENG)
9-2, 9-2, 9-4 (30m)
Samantha Teran (MEX)
 Linda Elriani
9-4, 9-6, 9-0 (37m)
Isabelle Stoehr
 Linda Elriani
9-6, 10-8, 9-6 (49m)
Nicol David
[6] Isabelle Stoehr (FRA)
9-0, 9-1, 9-3 (22m)
Katharina Witt (GER)
[7] Latasha Khan (USA)
9-7, 9-4, 9-3 (36m)
Ellen Petersen (DEN)
Latasha Khan
9-6, 9-6, 9-4 (33m)
Nicol David
 
 [2] Nicol David (MAS)
9-5, 9-3, 9-0 (25m)
Tenille Swartz (RSA)
 
Reports
SEMI-FINALS
Peter Nicol Eyes Half Century At World Games

Peter Nicol is one match away from recording his 50th major international squash title after beating British team-mate James Willstrop in straight games in the semi-finals at the World Games in Miheim an der Ruhr in Germany.

Competing in this IOC-backed multi-sport event for the first time, second seed Nicol defeated Willstrop, the third seed, 9-2 9-4 10-8 in one minute short of an hour to put himself in line for Britain's first ever squash gold medal at the Games.

'I played really well, my length was superb,' admitted the usually modest Londoner.  'I came here really relaxed - it's all going much better than I could have hoped.'

'In the first two games I really controlled him, though his length got better in the third and I had to work harder.'

'Yesterday's match was the hardest I've had for a long time, and I woke up this morning feeling really tired.  After a pretty poor prat6ice session, I went back to bed for an hour - then got up feeling great, explained the left-hander.'

When asked whether playing a fellow countryman for a place in the final posed any difficulties, the former world number one was quick to reply  'Not in the slightest.  He desperately wanted to win, of course - but then so did I!'

Willstrop felt that the match had had been the most competitive the pair had ever played.  'I knew I could give it everything, but he's just too good.  He rarely hit a loose ball and got everything into the corners,' said the 21-year-old from Pontefract.

Willstrop led 5-1 in the third game and had a match-ball at 8-7. 'I pushed him all the way in the third - but it's been a great tournament and good preparation for next week's Pakistan Open where I am the defending champion.'

'I'm very glad I came', added the Yorkshireman.

In the earlier first women's semi-final, Britain's third seed Linda Elriani had to settle for a bronze medal after losing 9-6 10-8 9-6 in 49 minutes to Malaysia's No2 seed Nicol David.
 
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Quarters:  
Peter Nicol Ends Egypt's Defence And Ensures British Medallist At World Games

A new slim-line Peter Nicol came through a tough quarter-final in the World Games in Mülheim an der Ruhr today (Sunday) to ensure that Britain wins at least a squash silver medal in the IOC-backed multi-sport event in Germany.

The Englishman, playing for Great Britain for the first time in his career, needed more than a hour to defeat Egypt's Karim Darwish 9-5 9-6 9-3 on a hot all-glass court in the packed Sport-Treff-Punkt centre.

Darwish, ranked 11 in the world, was aiming to retain the title won by his compatriot Ahmed Barada, but former world No1 Nicol was simply too strong for the fifth seed.

"I felt I was in control for most of the match, but the traditional hand-in, hand-out, scoring system we are using here makes it more difficult to end the games - and the really hot conditions didn't help either," explained the world number five from London.

Second seed Nicol reached game-ball at 8-2 in the second game, but three times Darwish staved off defeat, eventually reaching 6-8 before the 32-year-old left-hander clinched the game.

"I'm really pleased to be into the semi-finals here - and I must admit that I'm feeling better than I thought I would after coming here midway through my summer training. There's more work to be done - so it'll be interesting to see how far I can go here," added Nicol.

His opponent in the last four will be England team-mate James Willstrop, which will ensure that at least one Briton reaches the final. Willstrop, the third seed from Yorkshire, overcame Malaysia's No7 seed Ong Beng Hee - now a training mate at his club in Pontefract - 10-8 2-9 9-1 9-4 in 64 minutes.

Britain's Linda Elriani was the first player to claim a place in the semi-finals after beating France's Isabelle Stoehr in straight games in the women's quarter-finals. The British champion and third seed from Eastbourne in Sussex brushed aside her sixth-seeded opponent 9-4 9-6 9-0 in 37 minutes to set up a semi-final clash with Malaysia's No2 seed Nicol David.


 

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ROUND 1:
Reta Rallies To Foil German Upset In World Games

Linda Elriani puts out Mexico's Samantha Teran in 30 minutes in the first round.

In a dramatic first round match on the opening day  of the World Games squash event in Mülheim an der Ruhr in Germany, Canada's eighth seed Runa Reta saved six match balls to foil a major upset by German champion Karin Beriere.

Unseeded Beriere, ranked more than 80 places below her opponent in the world, took the first and third games, then reached match ball at 8-5 in the fourth. Reta refused to give up and, after one of the longest rallies in the match, won back the serve to keep her hopes alive.

After forcing the score up to 8-8, the Canadian again lost the serve and local favourite Beriere clinched the next point to earn match ball for the fifth time. But Reta, the 24-year-old world No33 from Ottawa, maintained her focus to take the game - and then the match 3-9 9-7 6-9 10-9 9-1 after 80 minutes!

"I am not too unhappy," conceded Beriere afterwards. "I'm sad that I didn't take my chances, but I think I played well, which is the important thing.

"But playing in the World Games comes at the top of my career - it's my Olympic Games! I feel very proud to have been able to take part in this big event in my home country," added the 30-year-old from Munich.

Runa Reta drew encouragement in the later stages of the fourth game from last year's Canadian Nationals' final against Alana Miller in Toronto. "There were even more match balls in the fourth game of that match, which I eventually lost - but Alana told me later that if she'd lost that game, she certainly wouldn't have won the match.

"And I was thinking of that tonight, hoping that if I did win it, Karin simply wouldn't have enough left in her to finish it off. Whilst I was completely drained at the end of that game, by the time I was in the fifth, I felt I could have gone on for another five!" claimed Reta.

The hosts had much to celebrate later on when unseeded Hansi Seestaller, a late addition to the field after the last-minute withdrawal of Pakistan's Shahid Zaman, claimed the only German place in the quarter-finals when he beat Austria's Andreas Fuchs 9-3 9-4 9-4 in 35 minutes.

"It feels so good to be in the next round," said the beaming 22-year-old from Rosenheim afterwards. "As I didn't know I was playing in this event until less than a week ago, I didn't have the chance to prepare properly - this is really in the middle of my summer break," explained Seestaller.

The local favourite's win reversed the result of his last meeting with the Austrian: "But I knew I could do it. I felt good during the match whereas Andreas seemed nervous - perhaps the pressure was on him. When it's important, as today's match was, I usually play well," said Seestaller.

"But I'm really looking forward to my game against Thierry Lincou tomorrow - it will be a real pleasure to have the chance to play the world's number one squash player."

Frenchman Lincou, the top seed who has held the world number one ranking throughout this year, defeated Stefan Leifels, the German No1, 9-3 9-2 9-2 in 36 minutes.

"That was a good match to get the tournament started for me," said the 29-year-old from Marseille. "It was very hot out there, but that suits my game. And I really love this all-glass court - it's the same one that I won the Super Series Finals title on last year in London, so I guess it's one of my favourite courts."

Mexico's Samantha Teran, playing in her first ever 'world title' event, put up a brave fight against Britain's third seed Linda Elriani. But after Teran opened up a two-point lead in the first game, the experienced world No6 from Eastbourne took control and ultimately claimed a 9-2 9-2 9-4 victory in 30 minutes.

"I've not had much rest this year as the tournament schedule has been so busy, so I was glad to get that match behind me - especially as you have to be really precise on that court, with it being so hot," said the British champion.

"I feel really proud to be representing Great Britain for the first time - it's such a special feeling being part of a much bigger team of athletes, but it's sad that our venue is some way from most of the other action, so we're unlikely to get the chance to follow our compatriots' successes.

"I was really impressed with the way Samantha played - she's really improved since the last time I played her. I like her attitude - she's really feisty, she digs in and doesn't give up. It's really great seeing players from new countries like Mexico coming through - hopefully she'll be able to encourage other players in her part of the world to join the WISPA circuit," added Elriani.

Teran, the Pan American champion who is making a comeback after a serious knee injury which ruled her out for a year, was playing for only the third time in her life on an all-glass court. "It's so exciting to play in an event like this, and I was happy with the way I played - I wasn't nervous," said the 24-year-old from Mexico City.

"But I need to play more players like Linda - she is only the fourth world top ten player I have ever played. I don't get the chance to play women of my standard in Mexico - only men, and that's not quite the same. I want to come to Europe to get the chance to play league squash," explained Teran.

Fellow Mexican Eric Galvez also suffered the same first round fate, beaten 9-2 9-3 9-2 in 40 minutes by Egypt's fifth seed Karim Darwish.

"Eric is one of the fittest players on the Tour," said Darwish, the world No11 from Cairo, who recently announced his engagement to fellow Egyptian squash player Engy Kheirallah. "I've just had a long break from the game, so I was pleased with my first serious match for a few months.

"It would be good to keep the title for Egypt after Ahmed Barada won it eight years ago in Finland," added Darwish.

Galvez commented: "It's been a fantastic experience, playing in the World Games. It's great to play alongside so many of the world's top players - and I am determined to do this more in the future," explained the world No54. "I am now going to enter as many of the top tournaments as I can - something I've never done before."

Former world number one Peter Nicol cruised to a 9-1 9-1 9-3 win over Canada's Matthew Giuffre to set up a quarter-final clash with Darwish.

"I've lost a lot of weight over the past months or so, and am feeling really trim and lean," said Nicol, the second seed. "It's what I've been concentrating on over the summer break and I really feel in good shape."

3,500 athletes from 100 nations are taking part in the IOC-backed World Games, competing at 27 venues in 40 sports. The squash finals will take place on Tuesday 19 July.
   ________________________________________________________________________

PREVIEW
Lincou & Grinham Top Seeds

World number ones Thierry Lincou and Rachael Grinham have been named as top seeds in the squash events for the World Games, the multi-sport event which is being staged in the German city of Duisburg under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The 2005 World Games will feature 3,500 athletes from 100 nations, competing at 27 venues in 40 sports ranging from Sumo to Squash. The squash action will be staged in Mülheim an der Ruhr, near Duisburg, from 16-19 July.

Lincou, the most successful French squash player of all-time, faces Germany's Stefan Leifels in the first round - and is expected to meet Great Britain's second seed Peter Nicol, whom he succeeded as world No1, in the men's final.

"The World Games are a big step to get into the Olympic Games," said Thierry Lincou. "It has been a great season for me and I would like to finish it by winning in Duisburg."

Australia's double British Open champion Rachael Grinham is seedced to meet Malaysia's world No3 Nicol David, in the final.

Peter Nicol Makes Debut As A Briton
After beginning his illustrious squash career as a Scot, then courageously crossing the border to become an Englishman in 2001, former world No1 Peter Nicol will compete in the World Games in Germany for the first time as a Briton!

'It'll seem strange playing for Great Britain,' said the 32-year-old Londoner who last year celebrated 60 months at the top of the world rankings.  I feel as if I've grown up all of a sudden - representing the whole nation after all this time!

Shahid Out as Hansi seizes chance
German squash champion Hansi Seestaller is determined to make the most of a last-minute invitation to compete in the World Games, after the disappointment of being overlooked for the original place in the men's draw of the multi-sport event which is being staged in his home country.

Stefan Leifels, the German No1, was the host nation's original choice to participate in the event. The 32-year-old from Paderborn is drawn against top seed Thierry Lincou, the world No1 from France. However, after eighth seed Shahid Zaman was forced to withdraw from the event, Hansi Seestaller was offered the Pakistani's slot, where he will meet Austria's unseeded Andreas Fuchs.

"Andreas and I always have close games, and though he beat me in five games the last time we played, I think I have a real chance of getting through to the quarter-finals," said Seestaller, the 22-year-old who is ranked 160 in the world, 29 places below Fuchs.