Motor City Open 2003
17-20 September, Detroit, USA,  $30k

20-Sep, Final:

[1] Jonathon Power (Can) bt [2] Thierry Lincou (Fra)
     14-15, 15-7, 15-5, 15-7

Henry Payne reports
After two consecutive losses to Thierry Lincou this year, Jonathon Power’s career advantage over the fit Frenchman seemed to be waning. But the Power was back on in the Volvo Motor City Open Saturday. After losing a thrilling first game in a tiebreaker, the Canadian took a stranglehold on the match and ran away with the next three games, 15-7, 15-5, and 15-7 to pocket his first Motor City Open crown.

An overflow crowd packed the Birmingham Athletic Club grandstand to see a rematch of Lincou’s epic five-game victory over the world #4 in last weekend’s U.S. Open quarterfinals. Both of the top seeds had swept through the Motor City draw without the loss of a game, although two-seed Lincou had faced stiff challenges from English qualifier James Willstrop and #6 seed Mark Chaloner in the early rounds.

As in Boston, Power got off to a quick start in game one, jumping on top of Lincou, 5-2. But then – on a cross court get – Power fell hard, clutching his right angle. Grimacing, the Canadian walked it off, but the incident seemed to break his momentum, and suddenly Lincou was right back in it. Controlling the tempo, a determined Lincou battled Power to 8-all before pulling out to 14-12 and game point. Two Thierry tins later, however, and it was suddenly 14-14. Lincou asked for no set, and this time it was Power who tinned a forehand, handing the game to Lincou. “That first game was a tough. Thierry set a tough pace and hit very precise shots,” said Power after the match.

Game two would be a different story. Throwing a dizzying array of soft boasts, tight drives, and drop shot winners at his opponent, Power leapt to a 9-4 lead, and cruised to a 15-7 second game win. “I felt his legs go in the second game,” commented Power. “So I started moving him around. I felt I could drop him more without his putting pressure on me.”

Lincou, apparently feeling the stress of a long week of squash, admitted his fatigue. “I think I got mentally tired,” said the world #5. “He was definitely up for the match, and I just suddenly felt tired and mentally let it slip.”

Power kept up the pressure in game three. Quickly up 3-1, a series of Lincou errors ballooned the deficit to 10-3, and Power finished it off at 15-5. In game four, Lincou dug deep and hung with Power, winning the longest rally of the match to close the gap to 9-6. But Power’s pace was relentless, and again a bushel of Lincou errors brought Power to match ball, 14-7. Lincou missed again, and Power raised both fists into the air in victory.

This year’s fifth annual Motor City Open was the most competitive yet, featuring a $30,000 purse and nine of the top 20 players in the world. Accepting his trophy after the match, a gracious Power said: “We don’t play a lot of clubs on the circuit, so it’s nice to come to the Motor City. The crew here is outstanding, and we are treated first-class.”


Motor City Open 2003
1st Round
Wed 17th
Thu 18th
Fri 19th
Sat 20th
[1] Jonathon Power (Can)
15-7, 15-8, 15-13
[Q] Dan Jenson (Aus)
Jonathon Power
 15-13, 15-12, 15-8
Paul Price
Jonathon Power

15-9, 15-4, 15-3.

Graham Ryding

Jonathon Power

14-15, 15-7, 15-5, 15-7

Thierry Lincou

[7] Simon Parke (Eng)
 17-14, 15-7, 15-8
Paul Price (Aus)
[3] Karim Darwish (Egy)
15-11, 5-15, 15-13, 15-6
Rodney Durbach (Rsa)
Karim Darwish
15-13, 9-15, 13-15, 17-16, 15-12
Graham Ryding
[8] Graham Ryding (Can)
15-8, 17-16, 15-9
Nick Taylor (Eng)
[Q] Joey Barrington (Eng)
13-15, 15-3, 15-11, 15-6
[5] Martin Heath (Sco)
Martin Heath
 15-13, 17-14, 15-12
Amr Shabana
Amr Shabana


Thierry Lincou

[Q] Shahier Razik (Can)
15-4, 15-10, 15-12
[4] Amr Shabana (Egy)
Viktor Berg (Can)
17-14, 15-9, 15-10
[6] Mark Chaloner (Eng)
Mark Chaloner
15-12, 15-13, 15-12
Thierry Lincou
[Q] James Willstrop (Eng)
17-15, 15-13, 15-12
[2] Thierry Lincou (Fra)


Qualifying finals:
Shahier Razik (CAN) bt Jan Koukal (CZE) 15-13, 15-11, 15-13
James Willstrop (ENG) bt Jonathan Kemp (ENG)    15-11, 15-11, 15-9
Joey Barrington (ENG) bt Davide Bianchetti (ITA)    8-15, 9-15, 15-12, 15-5, 15-6
Dan Jensen (AUS) bt Tommy Berden (NED)  15-11, 17-14, 15-13

1st round:
 Shahier Razik (CAN) bt Gavin Jones (WAL), 3-1
Jan Koukal (CZE) bt Lee Drew (ENG), 3-0
Jonathan Kemp (ENG) bt Rob McFadzean (USA), 3-0
James Willstrop (ENG) bt Mark Heather (ENG), 3-1
Davide Bianchetti (ITA) bt Alex Stait (ENG), 3-2
Joey Barrington (ENG) bt Ben Garner (ENG), 3-0
Tommy Berden (NED) bt Matt Jensen (AUS), 3-0
Dan Jensen (AUS) bt Beau River (USA), 3-0

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RESULTS & Reports

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, 15-4, 15-3.

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 recent months.

“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 tougher.”

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
all-Canadian semi
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 semis.

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 such company.

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 Tuesday night.

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 Jensen.

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, marathon five-gamer.

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.

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