Power dominates Ryding;
Shabana injury hands semi to Lincou
Henry Payne reports
Birmingham – The top two seeds will square off for Saturday’s
final of the Volvo Motor City Open. Number one Jonathon Power rolled past
fellow Canadian Graham Ryding in the first semi-final Friday night, while
#2 seed Thierry Lincou got a walkover courtesy of #4 seed Amr Shabana’s
badly swollen ankle.
Coming off an emotionally draining quarterfinal win over #3 seed Karim
Darwish, Ryding was simply no match for Power, who was at the top of his
game. “This is as well as I have played,” allowed Power. “But I think
yesterday’s match took a lot out of Graham. And my pace today took a lot
more out of his legs.”
Game one got off to a competitive start. The two players fought to a 9-9
tie. Power then reeled off six points a row, finishing with two short,
front-court winners, a Ryding tin, and a winning drive to the deep
opposite corner. He would never look back. Games two and three sailed
past, as Ryding grew visibly tired and discouraged. Final score: 15-9,
Shabana (#4 seed) vs. Lincou (#2) promised to be a contrast in styles,
with Amr known for his attacking game and Lincou a fit counter-puncher.
Alas, when Shabana awoke Friday morning he knew he was done. In the
quarters the night before against England’s Martin Heath, he had strained
his Achilles tendon – a recurring injury that has bothered Shabana in
“I was keen to play him,” said the Egyptian Shabana, who hoped to avenge a
loss to Lincou in last weekend’s U.S. Open. “It would have been exciting.
But I have a tournament in England (The British Open) in ten days and I
didn’t want to hurt myself any worse.”
Lincou’s walkover sets up a rematch of his bizarre quarterfinal match
victory (see MCO Daily, Sept. 17) against Power in Boston. Prior to this
year, Lincou had recorded no success against Power, only frustration. As
he said in 2001: “Power gives me problems. He holds the ball so well,
changes pace and direction. He never does the same thing twice. He knows
how to put you out of your mind. He's very clever and I need to be
And he has gotten tougher. After losing to Power in December, 2002 at the
World Open in Antwerp, he has beaten Jonathon twice this year - once in
Boston and once in New York in the Tournament of Champions semi-finals.
The attacker Power anticipates another tough match Saturday against the
counter-punching Lincou: “He’ll be tough on these courts because they are
very bouncy, and he will be able to get to more balls,” says the Canadian.
“And playing the high tin will also favour him to stay in the points.” The
Birmingham Athletic Club courts, says Power – unlike the U.S. Open and
most squash majors – sport a tin that is two inches higher.
19 Sep - Quarter-finals:
Ryding sets up
Rob McFadzean reports
Day two of the Volvo Motor City Open featured
four quarterfinal matches and the biggest upset of the tournament thus
far. Canadian Graham Ryding, the #8 seed – thought by many to be the
tourney’s dark horse – took out #3 seed and world #9 Karim Darwish of
Egypt after saving three match balls. Meanwhile, Darwish’s countryman Amr
Shabana rolled into the semis - despite rolling an ankle. And top seeds
Jonathon Power and Thierry Lincou advanced looking very much on form.
In a first-round encounter in Boston’s U.S. Open last weekend, Ryding
faced match points against Darwish before prevailing in five games. The
result would be eerily similar here Thursday. With Darwish ahead 2-1, the
fourth would prove the pivotal game. Down match point at 13-14, Graham
fought back to 14-14, only to lose another and face a second match ball.
Again Ryding tied it up after some extreme retrieves and attacking spurts.
Then at 16-15, Karim look poised to win only to see Graham improbably come
back to win 17-16 – crossing up Karim on game point.
Stunned to be facing yet another fifth game against Ryding, Darwish did
not give up. The Egyptian jumped ahead in game five, leading Ryding by two
until the Canadian tied it at 10-10. From there, Graham advanced to match
ball at 14-12 - and when Darwish tinned the next point - a spot in the
Number-one seed Jonathon Power’s quarter against Australia’s Paul Price
was vintage Power. Grimacing, needling, berating the referee,
counterpunching – and rarely missing a shot. After taking a tight first
game against an inspired Price, 15-13, Power would make only three
unforced errors in the last two games. This brilliance came even as the
Canadian sustained a running verbal battle with the referee after almost
every point. The outbursts seem to unnerve Price more than Power however,
who closed out the highly entertaining match before a packed grandstand,
15-12 and 15-8.
Ryding’s upset win and Power’s advance set up an intriguing semifinal
matchup between Canada's top two players Friday evening.
The bottom half of the draw was less eventful. Four-seed Shabana was
cruising against England’s Martin Heath before suddenly pulling up lame in
game three. Amr’s ankle has hampered him recently and he had twisted it
again. Despite the discomfort, however, the speedy Egyptian held on for a
convincing 15-13, 17-14, 15-12 win. Thierry Lincou, #2 seed, waged his
second marathon three-gamer in two nights, defeating a tenacious Mark
Chaloner in 1 hr, 50 min.: 15-13, 15-12, 15-13. “Thierry's playing well,”
says Chaloner. “He’s difficult to move around because he takes a lot of
space on the T.”
Lincou beat Shabana in three in Boston’s first round, but says: “this time
he should be fresher than me. It could be tough.” If Shabana’s ankle is
okay, it could be a thriller.
18-Sep - Round One:
Parke Pays The Price
In Detroit Defeat
England's Simon Parke, the seventh seed,
suffered his second successive PSA Tour disappointment when he crashed out
of the first round of the Volvo Motor City Squash Open in Detroit, USA, at
the hands of unseeded Australian Paul Price.
Playing before a packed house at the Birmingham Athletic Club, the
veterans Parke and Price - both former world top four players, now ranked
18 and 20, respectively - squared off, the Englishman eager to make up for
last week's failure to qualify for the US Open in which has been a
finalist four times.
Parke started quickly, but Price weathered the attack and took the first
game in overtime, 17-14. The 27-year-old from Melbourne maintained
momentum in the second, pushing Parke into difficulty in the front with
some beautiful touch shots. Suddenly, Parke faced a 2-0 deficit. Game
three was a repeat of the second, with Simon unable to turn his speed and
retrieval capabilities to his advantage. Price controlled the forecourt
and took the match 17-14 15-7 15-8.
The Australian's reward is a quarter-final clash with top-seeded Canadian
Jonathon Power. It was back to business for the 29-year-old world No4 from
Montreal who, after a surprise quarter-final exit from the US Open, was
making his debut in this $30,000 event in Detroit. Power swept to a 15-7
15-8 15-13 first round victory over Australian qualifier Dan Jenson.
Detroit squash fans also got a look at two rising English hopefuls: James
Willstrop, the world junior champion, and Joey Barrington, son of the
sport's legendary Jonah Barrington, both lost their matches to veterans
Thierry Lincou and Martin Heath - but served notice that they belong in
Willstrop's battle against No2 seed Lincou produced consistently high
level squash and was the match of the day. Game one was an epic, 55-minute
masterpiece. Just shy of the PSA record of 57 minutes, it lasted longer
than some of the day's complete matches! The rallies were long and hard.
Willstrop's quickness of hand matched Lincou's quickness afoot. With both
players on form, game one stretched into a tiebreaker, ending abruptly on
a tough, controversial stroke against Willstrop, 17-15.
Game two again came down to the wire and again a tough stroke call on game
point decided it: 15-13 to Lincou. Into the third and again the two
gladiators fought to a 12-12 tie, with the veteran Lincou reaching deep to
pull out the last three points and the match 17-15 15-13 15-12. Visibly
spent, the two embraced each other at match end.
Joey Barrington looks set to make his own mark on the game. Starting
tenaciously against fifth-seeded Scot Martin Heath, Barrington took balls
early and attacked hard to the back of the court. He took the first 15-13.
In game two, Heath bounced back convincingly in game two, 15-3. Barrington
would not roll over, however, extending Heath to 15-11 in the third and
pressing Martin in the fourth. But Heath was devastating in the air as
some great backhand volley flicks found the nick as he eventually claimed
his 13-15 15-3 15-11 15-6 win.
In the much-anticipated rematch of last year's final, Canada's Graham
Ryding never let up on England's 2002 champ Nick Taylor - winning sweet
revenge in three straight games 15-8 17-16 15-9.
Four Qualifiers Round Out
Wednesday's Motor City Open Draw
by Rob McFadzean on MCODaily
Birmingham, Mich. – First-round play kicks off
the Volvo Motor City Open Monday, with #1 seed Jonathon Power set to
play world #31 Dan Jensen, one of four qualifiers to win a spot in the
Main Draw. World junior champ James Willstrop, Joey Barrington of
England, and Canada’s Shahier Razik also qualified with victories
With eight first round matches scheduled for Wednesday, the most-watched
contest is sure to be the pairing of Canada’s Graham Ryding and
England’s Nick Taylor. An indicator of how much tougher the MCO draw has
become this year, their matchup will be a replay of last year’s final.
Jensen, the world’s 5th-ranked player in 1999 before battling a series
of injuries, is still spry at 26 and should give world #4 Power a stiff
test. Another match to watch is #6 seed Mark Chaloner versus the
tenacious Victor Berg of Canada.
Tuesday evening at the Birmingham Athletic Club belonged to a talented
group of qualifiers, each desperate for a place in the Main Draw. It all
started with an exhibition of superb control and accuracy as James
Willstrop tamed the attacking game of Jonathan Kemp. James hit great
length early and kept the ball tight to the back of the court
throughout. Quick to take the lead in each game, the 6’5” Willstrop
moved methodically to the ball and kept the pressure on throughout.
But the night’s best match pitted England’s Joey Barrington against
Italy’s Divide Bianchetti. Bianchetti, a five-game match survivor on
Monday, would not be so lucky this time. After taking games one and two,
Bianchetti looked on the verge of victory at 12-10 in the fifth. But a
determined Barrington would not give up. His game three victory turned
the momentum and he breezed through games four and five, 15-5 and 15-6,
to take a comeback win.
Putting on a display of high-quality squash, Australia’s Dan Jenson and
the Netherland’s Tommy Berden matched each other point-for point in
their 1hr-20 min. struggle. Dan took game one, 15-11. Game two began at
a startling pace, both players taking the play early looking for a
backhand drop or the elusive nick volley. In overtime, Jensen finished
it with a deadly nick on a backhand drop. Dan pushed hard in the third
as Tommy outwardly showing fatigue. Final game score: 15-13. Match to
In his qualifying matchup with Jan Koukal, Shahir Razik worked the ball
consistently, even as Koukal seemed to run everything down. Shahir took
the first and second games, 15-13 and 15-11. Quickly up 7-0, Shahir
looked to runaway with the third. But Koukal came back to 8-8, then tied
it again at 13-13. Eventually Razik wins it with a deadly
crosscourt drop, 15-13.
Bianchetti-Stait epic is first-round highlight
Rob McFadzean reports on Qualifying round one
Birmingham, Mich. - The Volvo Motor City
Open began Monday at The Birmingham Athletic Club with a full slate of
first-round qualifying matches and sixteen players vying for a precious
four spots in the Main Draw. The competition produced some ferocious
squash, a look at the PSA tour’s rising talent, and a thrilling,
Undoubtedly the match of the day was a 1 ½-hour, five-game duel between
Italy’s Davide Bianchetti and Alex Stait of England. Davide started
strong in the first game taking everything early in the front and
volleying deep to the back. He won the first game narrowly. Game two saw
the momentum swing to a tenacious Stait, who managed to retrieve every
shot Bianchetti had to offer and then some - following up with some
quick, well-disguised drops into the front left. With the score even at
1-1, an epic game three followed. The pair fought to 10 points apiece
before Bianchetti got the upper hand – running away with the game on a
series of deep, irretrievable length shots.
Game four continued the physical play. Bianchetti, obviously upset with
the movement of Stait onto the backhand drop, lost his concentration and
quickly trailed 8-3. Stait never looked back, tying the match at 2
games-all. The fifth was a nail-biter to the end, both players looking
tired yet managing to rally deep to the corners. Bianchetti, recovering
his composure after a ragged fourth, played more shots instead of taking
lets and forced Stait into longer rallies. The game was tied through
10-all before Bianchetti pulled away at the end, 15-11.
In other matches of note, James Willstrop - reigning world junior
champion - had a tough first game against Mark Heather, but then
dominated the last three games. One Jensen brother survived round one.
Australia’s Matt Jenson went down in three to 2001 MCO champion Tommy
Berden. But older brother Dan defeated American Beaux River - a last
minute sub for injured American Jamie Crombie – in three hard-fought
games. The only other American in the MCO tournament, Rob McFadzean, was
taken out by a red-hot Jonathan Kemp in three.