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Bermuda Masters 2005
4-9 April, Bermuda, $120k

Event sponsors Virtual Spectator plan a squash technological breakthrough. White and Palmer are still competitive off court. New world and old word meet mid-Atlantic in downtown Hamilton.

FINAL:
Power Claims Masters Hat-Trick In Bermuda

Jonathon Power confounded majority opinion in Bermuda with a straight games upset over England's Lee Beachill in the final of the Virtual Spectator Bermuda PSA Masters, presented by Logic and hosted by Endurance, to secure his third Masters title at the Jessie Vesey Sports Centre in Hamilton.

While the world No3 from Pontefract in Yorkshire had waltzed through the $120,000 PSA Super Series event dropping only one game in the process, Power had fought three five-game marathons against Gregory Gaultier, Thierry Lincou and John White - battles lasting a total of 257 minutes!  And to all but the most ardent optimist, there was no doubt in anybody's mind that Beachill would be far too fresh and far too sharp for the mercurial Canadian.

From the very start, however, the rigours of the early rounds did not seem to have made a significant impact on Power's speed and movement.  Indeed it was second seed Beachill who looked somewhat nervous and flat, making a number of unnecessary errors in the first and handing the initiative straight to Power, the sixth seed.

In marked contrast to his semi-final, the Canadian looked calm, assured and determined, shunning his trade-mark verbal jousts with the referee.

Yet in truth he rarely needed to, so clean and clinical was the quality of his squash.  Having looked so dominant in his semi-final against compatriot Peter Nicol, Beachill was a rabbit caught in the headlights of Power's Humvee, and his usual brand of tight, conventional squash was simply not the order of the day.  Playing continually up and down the walls and refusing to force the issue, Beachill was playing palpably into Power's hands.

Never able to gain a foothold in the match, the Englishman looked increasingly tetchy and began to lose his customary ice-cool temperament while Power moved in for the kill, racing to an 8-0 lead in the third game.

Beachill did try to stick in there by slowing the pace, playing deep and cutting down the errors.  In the end, however, there really was only going to be one winner - and 30-year-old Power's 11-7 11-4 11-2 triumph in 48 minutes made him an enormously deserving one at that.

The win, his second PSA Tour success this year and revenge for his defeat by Beachill in the 2004 event, brings Jonathon Power's career haul to 35 titles, from 58 final appearances.  It also brings him a hat-trick of PSA Masters' crowns, after winning the 2001 title in Hurghada, Egypt, and the 2002 trophy in Doha, Qatar.

SEMI-FINALS
Jonathon Power & Lee Beachill
To Meet In Bermuda Final


 

Jonathon Power and Lee Beachill will meet in the final of the Virtual Spectator Bermuda PSA Masters after the sixth-seeded Canadian toppled Scotland's John White in a dramatic five-game marathon and Beachill breezed to a straight games win over England team-mate Peter Nicol in the other semi-final of the $120,000 PSA Super Series squash event, presented by Logic and hosted by Endurance, at the Jessie Vesey Sports Centre in Hamilton, Bermuda.

The Power/White encounter encapsulated all the intensity, speed and excitement of top-class squash.  The clash of the game's two most exciting stroke-players was eagerly awaited by the near capacity crowd - and right from the beginning, the quality of the squash did not fall short of such massive expectations.  Both players were coming off brutal, five-game quarter-final encounters - although both looked fresh and determined at the outset.

The gifted Canadian was first out of the blocks, however, stunning White with a number of delightful back-hand drops and clever deception to take the first game.  The trend continued for much of the second, as White's perennial inconsistency seemed to come back to haunt him following a number of unnecessary tins under little pressure.  At 4-10 down, the 31-year-old Scot was up against it, and it was only through sheer will power and a critical lapse in concentration which has undermined the Canadian throughout his entire career, that kept White in the game.

What followed was a number of jaw-dropping rallies, with both players wowing the crowd with their speed and movement.  White levelled the game at 10-10 with a rolling forehand volley nick, before claiming his first game point in the tie-break.  But a sloppy backhand error let sixth seed Power off the hook and the players swapped serves several times to leave it at 3-3 in the tie-break.  Back came White, however, stepping up the court when he had to take the ball early and work Power out of position - a tactic which paid off handsomely as he claimed the tie-break 5-3 to level the match.

Power, 30, from Montreal, won the third game as a number of close refereeing decisions threw White off his concentration.  But the 12th seed was back to his best in the fourth, taking the game 2-0 on a tiebreak with a drilled forehand drive to the back, with Power smashing his racquet angrily against the glass in frustration at having let the advantage slip.

Neither player had enjoyed a straightforward route through the tournament - White having played three successive matches each longer than an hour - and it was impossible to tell who would have enough gas in the tank for the crucial decider.  But despite being in his third five-game match in a row, Power threw himself into the last like a man possessed, dominating play from the centre of the court, and pouncing on anything remotely short from White.  Although he tried manfully, the Aussie-turned Scotsman's lunges were looking increasingly desperate and his length, particularly cross-court, began to falter.

Power ultimately took the match 11-5 10-11 11-8 10-11 11-4 in 89 minutes, punching the air in triumph as White lay prostrate on the ground in the back forehand corner, every last ounce of his energy used up.

It was Power's first PSA Tour win over White since beating him on the same court in the Bermuda Open in March last year - since when the Scot has twice had the measure of the Canadian.

In the second semi-final, Lee Beachill gave his great rival and friend Peter Nicol a lesson in precision squash - taking the match comfortably 11-9 11-6 11-8 in 47 minutes.  Rarely could Beachill have played as well as he did in the first, pushing his illustrious opponent to all parts of the court with squash which could not have been any tighter.  Nicol, as he has done for the past decade at the top level, gamely chased down every ball and continually took the pressure off with a number of wonderful high-lobs.  

But Beachill was in a world of his own, looking every inch a Masters champion in the making.  Even at the start of the second, as Nicol rallied briefly, it was clear that the rigours of the first game had sapped him of the requisite strength.

Beachill continued to be ruthless, keeping Nicol pinned behind him and forcing him to scramble around in the back corners.  In truth, the match never really caught fire and the man from Pontefract ran away with the second and third to repeat his last victory over Nicol in the US Open in September - by an almost identical straight games scoreline.

Power and Beachill will therefore face each other in the final - the Englishman now in his 13th on the PSA Tour and the Canadian celebrating his 58th.  Beachill has looked imperious throughout the week, dropping only one game so far.  Power, by contrast, his been pushed to the limit of his physical capacity in all but one round.  Whether the greatest ever North American player, believed by many to be one of the finest stroke players in the history of the game, has enough left to challenge the flying Yorkshireman remains to be seen.  Their last meeting was in the PSA Masters just a year ago in Qatar - where Beachill secured his first ever win over the former world No1.

Official Site
Virtual Spectator
Draw and Results

Wild Card Kye
Bermuda Buzzing
White Prevails
Olli and Azlan Upsets
Power upsets Lincou

Quarter-final win for Power over World Champion Lincou in marathon 96 minutes.

It takes a game but White comes back against Palmer in the second round and is then unstoppable.

Nicol makes a good start with first round win over Hindi on second day.

White comes through in five against Gough in first round

Local hope Nicholas Kyme pushes Thierry Lincou into a third game tie-break in the first round.

Island paradise
becomes sporting
mecca
Bermuda Masters 2005
4-9 April, Bermuda, $120k 
 

 
Mon 4 Last 16
Tue 5
Quarters
Wed 6
Semis
Thu 7
Final
Fri 8
[1] Thierry Lincou (FRA)
11-3, 11-7, 11-10 (3-1)
Nicholas Kyme (BER)
Thierry Lincou
6-11, 11-7, 11-10 (2-0) 11-3 (53m)
Amr Shabana
Thierry Lincou
9-11, 11-7, 11-6, 9-11, 11-8 (96m)
Jonathon Power
Jonathon Power
11-5, 10-11 (3-5), 11-8, 10-11 (0-2), 11-4 (89m)
John White
Jonathon Power
bt
Lee Beachill
11-7, 11-4, 11-2
[10] Amr Shabana (EGY)
11-7, 11-7, 11-8
 Renan Lavigne (FRA)
[6] Jonathon Power (CAN)
11-2, 11-2, 11-7
 Mark Chaloner (ENG)
Jonathon Power
10-11 (0-2), 11-1, 5-11, 11-3, 11-2 (72m)
Gregory Gaultier
[9] Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
11-4, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7
 Simon Parke (ENG)
[4] David Palmer (AUS)
11-6, 11-2, 11-1
Paul Price (AUS)
 David Palmer
7-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-6 (68m)
John White
John White
9-11, 11-10 (2-0), 11-9, 8-11, 11-8 (97m)
Nick Matthew
[12] John White (SCO)
9-11, 11-5, 11-6, 8-11, 12-10
 Alex Gough (WAL)
[7] Nick Matthew (ENG)
11-8, 11-4, 11-4
 Shahid Zaman (PAK)
Nick Matthew
11-8, 11-9, 11-9 (72m)
Ong Beng Hee
[16] Mohammed Abbas (EGY)
11-8, 11-3, 8-11, 11-2
 Ong Beng Hee (MAS)
[11] Anthony Ricketts (AUS)
11-6, 11-6, 11-4 (44m)
 Shahier Razik (CAN)
Anthony Ricketts
11-6, 11-8, 7-11, 3-11, 11-8 (97m)
James Willstrop
James Willstrop
11-5, 10-11 (1-3), 11-4, 11-3 (50m)
Peter Nicol
Peter Nicol
11-9, 11-6, 11-8 (47m)
Lee Beachill
[5] James Willstrop (ENG)
7-11, 11-10 (4-2), 11-6, 11-10 (4-2) (64m)
 Rodney Durbach (RSA)
[14] Adrian Grant (ENG)
11-9, 11-9, 2-11, 11-6 (62m)
 Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS)
Mohd Azlan Iskandar
11-10 (3-1), 11-5, 11-9 (45m)
Peter Nicol
[3] Peter Nicol (ENG)
11-8, 11-3, 11-6 (39m)
 Wael El Hindi (EGY)
[15] Joseph Kneipp (Aus)
 11-6, 11-4, 11-5 (27m)
Olli Tuominen (FIN)
 Olli Tuominen
11-5, 11-5, 11-7 (37m)
Karim Darwish
Karim Darwish
7-11, 11-7, 11-3, 11-9 (54m)
Lee Beachill
[[8] Karim Darwish (EGY)
11-6, 11-10 (2-0), 11-3 (39m) 
 Dan Jenson (AUS)
[13] Graham Ryding (CAN)
8-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-9 (46m) 
 Mansoor Zaman (PAK)
Graham Ryding
11-4, 11-7, 11-2 (40m)
Lee Beachill
[2] Lee Beachill (ENG)
11-3, 11-4, 11-6 (30m)
 Bradley Ball (ENG)
 
Reports

QUARTER-FINALS
Power Controls World No1 Lincou To Reach Bermuda Semis

"Squash at its best" was how one observer described the dramatic quarter-final in the Virtual Spectator Bermuda PSA Masters between sixth seed Jonathon Power and top seed Thierry Lincou - in which the mercurial Canadian prevailed in a five-game marathon to upset the French world number one and world champion to reach an unexpected semi-final berth on the all-glass court at the Jessie Vesey Sports Centre in Hamilton, Bermuda.

In a remarkable semi-final line-up of the $120,000 PSA Super Series event presented by Logic and hosted by Endurance which features four former world number ones, Power will face Scotland's 12th seed John White, whilst second seed Lee Beachill will take on third seed Peter Nicol in an all-English affair.

The Power/Lincou clash promised to be spectacular and more than lived up to its name.  The match started at a slow pace, with both players making uncharacteristic unforced errors, trying to play the tightest of shots from the outset.  The first game remained close to 9-9 until Lincou rattled off two points to take a 1/0 lead.

The pace picked up in the second with Power showing his amazing array of deceptive shots which caused even the world champion to be constantly changing direction.  At seven-all it was anyone's game until Power reeled off four unanswered points to level the match at one game each.

From the third game on, the quality of squash was superb - with neither player giving any quarter.  Power continued to demonstrate why he is considered one of the greatest stroke players in the modern game and soon moved into a 2/1 lead.  But Lincou, chasing every ball and playing superbly, seized the initiative in the fourth and won a closely-fought duel to set the scene for a fifth game thriller.  If the first four games were hot, the fifth was a sizzler!

Both gave it their all and constantly fought to dominate the tee.  Power had been questioning the referee's decisions from the third game, always in the belief that he can retrieve every shot, no matter how impossible - and even Lincou started to question decisions in the final game.  It was clear that both badly wanted to claim victory and the game progressed absolutely evenly.

At three-all, Power was accidentally struck on the right wrist by Lincou's racket and took an injury time out - much to the consternation of his opponent.  When play resumed they went straight back into the fray until seven-all.  The next rally was unbelievable and had the audience on edge while each player put away irretrievable winners only to see them returned with interest.  A perfect back hand drop shot by Power forced Lincou into the front left corner where he played a cross court lob, only to have Power hammer an overhead smash into the front right nick to end the rally - and raise his racket as if victory was in sight.

But the match was not quite over.  During the next rally Power flinched when struck in the face by Lincou's racket but went on to win the point before claiming a second injury time out to stop the bleeding to his lip.  

When they finally returned to the court, Lincou took the next point.  But Power was not to be denied and he put away the last two points to take the game and the match 9-11 11-7 11-6 9-11 11-8 after a gruelling 96 minutes on court.

The last time the pair met, in the quarter-finals of the Windy City Open in January, Power beat the Frenchman to set up a semi-final meeting with John White.  The Canadian will hope, however, that history will not be repeated in Hamilton - as White defeated Power in Chicago en-route to picking up the title.

Both players will clash following almost identical quarter-final workouts - as White needed a minute more than Power to see off England's Nick Matthew in the next match on the all-glass court.

Seventh seed Matthew won the first game after being given a conduct warning with the score at 3-3 when he continued to argue with the referee after what he considered to be a dubious let call.   White, the 12th seed, was visibly playing himself back into form, as he has throughout the tournament, and won the next two games before Matthew, tenaciously chasing down every ball, took the fourth to force the match into a decider.

There was no telling who would triumph as they each vied for the lead, but White suddenly decided to play a series of devastating drop shots as Matthew perhaps showed slight signs of slowing down.  The Scot ultimately took the fifth game to win the match 9-11 11-10 11-9 8-11 11-8 in 97 minutes.

The rigours of James Willstrop's epic 96-minute encounter the previous day against Australia's Anthony Ricketts were clearly evident as he faced fellow Englishman Peter Nicol in the next quarter-final.  

Nicol, by contrast, looked sharp and fresh in the first game, pushing Willstrop from corner to corner and generally looking the more aggressive.  In the second, Willstrop started to get it together - more by sheer will power than anything else - and what followed was a spectacular exhibition of athletic squash.  One rally in particular - won by Willstrop, which saw both players at full stretch and included a full-length dive by Nicol at the back of the court to stay in the rally - will live long in the memory.  As Willstrop clinched the tie-break game with a delicate forehand drop-shot into the nick, the enthusiastic crowd could have been forgiven for thinking they had a serious game on their hands.

But the wily Nicol had other ideas in the third, retrieving with grim determination and stubbornly refusing to concede the centre of the court.  As hard as fifth seed Willstrop tried, his legs were simply not there and by the end, his shoulders slumped with sheer fatigue, it was clear Nicol had it in the bag as he eventually wore down a willing but tired-looking England team-mate 11-5 10-11 11-4 11-3.

The final match of the day was a rather flat affair between England's Lee Beachill and Karim Darwish of Egypt - with the world number two Beachill taking the game in four 7-11 11-7 11-7 11-9.

 

ROUND 2:
White Knocks Out Palmer
Scotland's John White caused the major sensation of the second round of the Virtual Spectator Bermuda PSA Masters when he despatched Bermuda-based Australian David Palmer, the fourth seed, in four games to secure an unexpected place in the quarter-finals of the $120,000 PSA Super Series squash event, presented by Logic and hosted by Endurance, in Hamilton, Bermuda.

The later victory by England's James Willstrop over the in-form Anthony Ricketts - in a five-game 97-minute marathon - will leave the last eight of one of the PSA Tour's leading events of the year lacking any Australian interest for the first time for four years.

The clash between Palmer and White, the Australian-born 12th seed, was expected to be an exceptionally tough match between two aggressive hard-hitting players - with Palmer, runner-up twelve months ago, strong favourite to win on adopted home soil.   The Australian started strongly, playing error-free squash, and appeared to be on course for victory as he took four straight points to win the opening game in 20 minutes.

The two continued to play at a blistering pace in the second game.  White soon levelled the match and in the third hit a higher gear, winning seven points in a row while Palmer seemed to ease back and lose his edge.  The Scot never looked in any danger for the rest of the match, taking control of the third with a series of blistering nicks in the front right corner and looking more and more confident with each winner.

Palmer looked physically out of sorts and resorted to arguing with the referee over calls which even his partisan supporters in the audience would not have disputed.  It was a clear sign of frustration and it was no surprise when White again surged ahead in the fourth and ultimately clinched the match 7-11 11-9 11-4 11-6 in 68 minutes.

White's next opponent will be England's seventh seed Nick Matthew who, in his first PSA Tour event since withdrawing from last month's Kuwait Open with a back injury, needed 72 minutes to overcome Malaysia's Ong Beng Hee 11-8 11-9 11-9.

All who witnessed the second round match between Anthony Ricketts and James Willstrop - currently ranked seven and eight, respectively, in the world - agree that it not only lived up to all expectations but it also proved to be the match of the tournament so far.  A thriller from start to finish, this 97-minute marathon saw 21-year-old Willstrop, the fifth seed, play brilliantly for the first two games, constantly playing to an immaculate length and simply making no mistakes on a court where patience was a necessity.  

Ricketts, the 11th seed, fought back valiantly to win the third and appeared to have finally found the measure of Willstrop when he also cruised through the fourth.  But, in the decider, Willstrop showed that he has both the willpower and wherewithal to dig deep when it is most needed, and fought to the finish to emerge the victor 11-6 11-8 7-11 3-11 11-8.

In the last eight, Willstrop will face his England team-mate Peter Nicol, the defending PSA Masters champion who also won the title in 2000, the event's inaugural year.

Nicol simply outclassed his young adversary Mohd Azlan Iskandar in straight games.  While the Malaysian pushed hard in the first, forcing Nicol into some uncharacteristic errors at the front of the court, the impression was very much that the title-holder was biding his time.

And so it was in the second, as third seed Nicol markedly upped the tempo, taking the ball earlier and forcing Iskandar back into the corners, before bringing him scrambling forward with a number of delicate drops. It was not long before the pressure began to tell, with Iskandar tinning a number of relatively straightforward shots in quick succession before Nicol strode to his 11-10 11-5 11-9 win in 45 minutes.

Top seed Thierry Lincou, the world No1 from France, made a series of uncharacteristic unforced errors in the early stages of his match against Amr Shabana.  The left-handed Egyptian, one of the most exciting players on the tour, played with consummate grace and elegance - constantly wrong-footing Lincou.  Shabana won the first game and continued to look impressive in the second, but Lincou suddenly took charge, playing to an immaculate length, and the positions were reversed.  Shabana was doing most of the running and Lincou refused to relinquish the tee.  

Despite a determined effort by Shabana in the third game to force a tie breaker, Lincou took the next three games to win 6-11 11-7 11-10 11-3 in 53 minutes.

Lincou will now face Jonathon Power, the sixth-seeded Canadian who needed 72 minutes to overcome Frenchman Gregory Gaultier, the ninth seed, 10-11 11-1 5-11 11-3 11-2.

In the final match of the night, second seed Lee Beachill looked in ruthless form against the dogged Canadian Graham Ryding.  Moving languidly around the court, Beachill's length was immaculate throughout the 40 minutes as he set about patiently dismantling Ryding's game.  While a large Canadian contingent in the crowd tried hard to get behind their man, Ryding was never able to break the Englishman's stranglehold on the match.

The world number two's 11-4 11-7 11-2 victory takes Beachill into a quarter-final against Egyptian Karim Darwish.  Darwish dashed Olli Tuominen's hopes of further progress in the event, beating the unseeded Finn 11-5 11-5 11-7 in 32 minutes.

ROUND 1: Day 2
Olli & Azlan Celebrate Upsets

Unseeded Olli Tuominen and Mohd Azlan Iskandar claimed notable upsets on the second day of first round action in the Virtual Spectator Bermuda PSA Masters to secure places in the last sixteen of the $120,000 PSA Super Series squash event presented by Logic and hosted by Endurance at the Jessie Vesey Sports Centre in Hamilton, Bermuda.

Tuominen, the fighting Finn from Helsinki, despatched 15th seed Joseph Kneipp, the world No14 from Australia, 11-6 11-4 11-5 in 27 minutes to set up a second round clash with Egypt's eighth seed Karim Darwish, the 11-6 11-10 11-3 victor over another Australian Dan Jenson.

In their last two meetings on the PSA Tour last year (in the German Open and Hong Kong Open), Iskandar extended Adrian Grant to five games, but was unable to beat the higher-ranked Englishman.  Now ranked 18 in the world, the Malaysian this time had the edge on the left-hander from London, beating 14th seed Grant 11-9 11-9 2-11 11-6 in 62 minutes.

Sarawak-born Iskandar, 22, now has another Englishman in his sights:  Peter Nicol, the former world No1, celebrated his 32nd birthday in fine style, beating Egypt's Wael El Hindi in straight games.

Any doubts about Nicol's intentions were dispelled by his 39-minute match over the unseeded Egyptian who, the pundits were predicting, might pull off a first round upset over the third seed.  Hindi started positively, playing aggressive attacking shots on a hot humid court, but Nicol had all the answers.  The first game stood at 8-all before Nicol took complete control and won the next three points in quick succession.

The former Scot stormed through the second game, during which he dispatched the ball to all corners of the court almost at leisure.  Left-hander Nicol was simply stronger in every element of the game, but his most effective weapon was a series of front wall drop shots which consistently hit the nick for at least a dozen outright winners.

Nicol's 11-8 11-3 11-6 win may have sent a slight shiver through some of the other players in his half of the draw - with the possible exception of last year's Bermuda Open winner Lee Beachill, who systematically despatched fellow Englishman  Bradley Ball in just 30 minutes,  11-3 11-4 11-6.  Ball has lots of power, but he paid the price for costly unforced errors against a man who seldom made mistakes and practically camped out on the tee.

In the toughest match of the day, England's James Willstrop defeated South African Rodney Durbach in a close encounter after losing the first game.  Willstrop, the fifth seed who eventually triumphed 7-11 11-10 11-6 11-10, may rue the 64-minute match when he meets Anthony Ricketts in the next round.  The Australian cruised to a comfortable 11-6 11-6 11-4 win over Shahier Razik of Canada.

In other action, Canadian Graham Ryding lost the first game but managed to pip Pakistan's Mansoor Zaman at the post in each of the next three games to take the match 8-11 11-9 11-9 11-9 in 46 minutes.

ROUND 1: Day 1
WHITE PREVAILS IN
SENSATIONAL OPENER


Aussie turned Scotsman John White got the tournament off to a truly sensational start on the beautiful island of Bermuda yesterday with a narrow five game win over Welshman Alex Gough - a match overflowing with tension and excitement.

On a hot and bouncy court, both players stretched themselves to the very limit of their ability - thrilling the crowd with a bewildering succession of lightning fast rallies and remarkable gets. White was consistently the aggressor, using his rubbery wrists and incomparable power to dominate the majority of rallies from the center of the court as Gough, ever the willing workhorse, strained every sinew to stay with his talented opponent.

Occasional lapses in concentration on White's part kept Gough in the match, and it was two needless tins at the end of the first that handed the Welshman the early initiative. White stormed back in the second, however, taking it 11-5 in a matter of minutes following a wonderful attacking display to which Gough had no answer. And with the third game also comfortably in the bag and his opponent sucking heavily on the humid air, it looked for all the world that White would emerge a comfortable victor.

But back came Gough in the fourth, refusing to meekly wilt on a court where the temperature touched 80 degrees Fahrenheit - although again White's sloppy errors at crucial moments cost him dear.

The decider was an absolute humdinger as both players ran down every ball, stubbornly declining to concede the initiative. Gough had match ball at 10-9 but was unable to convert - an untimely framed error which opened the door ever so slightly for White, who claimed match ball at 11-10. A lethal forehand kill into the front-corner finished the absorbing encounter, with White no doubt grateful that he now has a day off to recover.

By contrast, the second match in the afternoon session involving the Australian duo of Paul Price and David Palmer was significantly more low-key.

Palmer, a Bermuda resident and clearly anxious to impress squash fans in his adopted home, strode onto the court exuding confidence and self-belief. The same could not be said for his opponent, however, who due to a number of other commitments, including a burgeoning career as a musician, had not been involved in a competitive match since November. Unfortunately, it showed, as Palmer swept aside the former world number four in a little over 20 minutes. Palmer will need every drop of that saved energy in a mouth-watering second round encounter with his friend and rival John White on Wednesday.

The evening session saw the local fans out in force as Bermudian national champion Nick Kyme took center stage against world number one, Thierry Lincou of France.

Despite a noisy partisan support, the world number 84 looked a little on edge in the opening exchanges, snatching a little at his shots when under pressure from the impressively mobile Frenchman. Lincou took the first 11-3 and looked to be cruising to victory in the second, taking it 11-7.

But against all the odds, the 24-year old Bermudian began putting it together in the third as Lincou took his foot ever-so-slightly off the gas. At 10-9, Kyme found himself match ball down, but hung on bravely to level the game and even command a game point. It was not to be, however, as Lincou effortlessly clicked through the gears in the face of the spirited resistance to take the third 11-10 (3-1).

In the final match of the night, the highly-talented Amr Shabana of Egypt swept aside Renan Lavigne of France in three straightforward games (11-7, 11-7, 11-8) - with Shabana rarely looking under pressure.

Meanwhile at Bermuda Squash Racquets Association headquarters on the other side of island, Canadian Jonathan Power was at his mercurial best against Mark Chaloner of England. Imperious throughout, Power made a good player in Chaloner look ordinary with his mesmerising speed and deception. It was simply the best 31 minutes squash you are ever likely to see as Power took the match 11-2, 11-2, 11-7.

Meanwhile, after months of poor form, Ong Beng Hee secured an encouraging four-game victory over the Egyptian Mohammed Abbas, 11-8, 11-3, 8-11, 11-2.

Bermuda Open 2004 semi-finalist Nick Matthew of England defeated Shahid Zaman of Pakistan 11-8, 11-4, 11-4.

And Frenchman Gregory Gaultier beat Simon Parke of England in a grueling 71 minute, four-game encounter 11-4, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7.

Bermuda 'Buzzing With Excitement' At
Arrival Of World's Top Squash Players


Squash fans around the world will be focused on the tiny city of Hamilton in Bermuda this week as all of the world's top 31 squash players have arrived on this semi-tropical mid-ocean paradise for the 2005 Virtual Spectator Bermuda PSA Masters, presented by Logic and hosted by Endurance.   

More than 140 volunteers have been working around the clock to complete final preparations on the 600-seat auditorium housing the specially imported all-glass court.   

"Although Bermuda's total population is less than 60,000, the Island is buzzing with excitement at the prospect of seeing the world's finest players from five continents battling it out for the prestigious Masters Championship," said Tournament Director Ross Triffitt.   

A wildly enthusiastic packed house is expected for the opening match of the week between world No1 Thierry Lincou, of France, and local wild-card favourite, Nicholas Kyme, currently ranked 68 in the world.  Kyme, the national champion, will surely have a baptism of fire against the world champion - but if he falls in round one, local fans will quickly change their allegiance to Bermuda resident David Palmer, the Australian world No2 who is determined to perform well in front of his adopted home crowd.

The auditorium is replete with high quality technology offering web-streaming of matches via the internet on the PSA's website www.PSALIVE.tv - while title sponsors Virtual Spectator are testing their own cutting edge technology on site.  Most matches are scheduled between 12 noon and 2.30pm Bermuda time (one hour ahead of EST), and from 6pm to 8.30pm daily.

Predicting a winner of this year's $120,000 PSA Masters, the second Super Series event of the year, is a risky business - with any one of the top 10 capable of taking the title.  But Lincou has to be the favourite by a whisker, with superfit Australian Anthony Ricketts; along with last year's winner of the Bermuda Open 2004, Englishman Lee Beachill; brilliant Canadian Jonathon Power; and Bermuda-based David Palmer all strong contenders for the top spot.

Triffitt added:  "The stage is now set for the biggest and best sporting event ever held in Bermuda.  Our team of volunteers has done a superb job preparing the venue from scratch and all the players have arrived from all corners of the globe.  Even the weather seems to be cooperating as the forecast for this week is clear and sunny.  We look forward to a superb week of squash."

Wild Card Kyme Gets Toughest
Opener In Bermuda Masters Draw


Bermuda's National champion Nicholas Kyme, awarded a wild card in Virtual Spectator Bermuda PSA Masters Squash Championship, finds himself facing top seed Thierry Lincou, the world No1 from France.

The $120,000 PSA Super Series Platinum event, presented by Logic & hosted by Endurance, will be staged on an all-glass court at the Jessey Vesey Sports Centre in Hamilton from 4-9 April - featuring the world's top 31 players.

It is the first time in the event's six-year history that the event has welcomed a 'wild card' player - an honour which Kyme, ranked 68 in the world, is determined to do justice.

"I'm absolutely ecstatic about the wild card - what a fantastic opportunity!" said the 24-year-old who won the Bermuda National title in February.  "To be the first player outside the world's top 32 to play in this tournament is a dream come true and makes all the training and the hard work seem worthwhile.

"I'd like to pay tribute to the Bermuda Squash Racquets Association (BSRA) for all their efforts towards making this opportunity possible.  To be able to play in the largest professional squash tournament in the world bar the World Open, in front of my own countrymen on the island of my birth - well, it's pretty special."

Ross Triffitt, Director of Bermuda Squash, said Kyme "fully deserved" the wild card slot:  "Nick is the best Bermudian squash player ever and is a product of our thriving junior programme," he said. "He's been a professional for close to two years now and we are starting to see signs of genuine progress in his game.  He earned the wild card at the inaugural Bermuda Open in 2004 and acquitted himself admirably against Peter Nicol, losing in three well-contested games.  I'm confident Nick learnt a great deal from that experience and, coupled with the improvements in his game over the last year, will be more than capable of holding his own in the main draw.  I wish him the very best of luck."

This is the first time the PSA Masters has been held in the western world since its inception in 2000 (it has previously been held in Egypt and in Qatar), and it brings to Bermuda the world's best players from 11 countries and 5 continents.
England's Lee Beachill, the world No2 from Yorkshire who won the Bermuda Open last year, is the No2 seed and drawn to face compatriot Bradley Ball in the first round.  Third seed Peter Nicol, the former world No1, is also in the lower half of the draw and expected to meet compatriot Beachill in the semi-finals.

Australia's David Palmer, last year's runner-up who has a base in Bermuda, is the fourth seed and drawn to meet fellow Australian Paul Price in the first round.  His anticipated semi-final opponent is French favourite Lincou.

There will also be a number of additional events taking place at around the same time as the PSA Masters, including the Bank of Bermuda Foundation Junior Open 2005, to attract overseas juniors, along with the Bermuda Open Graded Championships, specially-designed to attract overseas amateurs to visit the Island and compete in a tournament while also being able to watch the world's best in action.

Bermuda is one of the most isolated and beautiful places on earth, approximately 650 miles off the coast of North Carolina, USA, and just over 3,000 miles from London, England.  In travel time, Bermuda is just over two hours from most US East Coast gateways, two and a half hours from Toronto, Canada, and six hours from London.
 

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