|The FINAL, Sun 1st Sep|
Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Open 2002
|NICOL CLAIMS CATHAY HAT-TRICK||
HONG KONG SHOWDOWN
After a titanic 108-minute battle it was Nicol who emerged the winner, to claim his third Cathay Pacific title and edge ahead 16-15 in their personal duel.
Power started the stronger, racing to a 7-2 lead in the first game. Nicol clawed his way back to 7-8, at which point Power needed an injury 'time-out', feeling his back. The referee allowed the delay, declaring it to be a new injury, presumably as opposed to the head wound he received in the semi-finals. Nicol was unconvinced. "A new injury? He's been getting that for five years," said Nicol, much to the amusement of the capacity crowd.
Once back on court, Power looked to be in some distress, holding his back and conducting his usual discussions with the referee. "Power's back looks really painful," said observers at courtside. The Canadian managed to hold it together to reach 13-10, but Nicol took the last five points to clinch the first. "At the start I was getting to the ball much earlier but after the injury I began to slow and allowed him to dominate," a sorry Power told the South China Morning Post..
Power, who yesterday suffered a racket blow to the head (see photo), was attended to by the doctor in the game interval, with ice packs applied to his back, but looked at times to be in sufficient pain as to make his continued participation in the match doubtful.
He came out for the second, but was struggling with his movement as Nicol quickly established a 2-0 lead, with Power adopting an attacking philosophy that didn't pay off.
The third saw Power moving more easily, and they traded points until Power reached game ball at 14-12, then Nicol levelled at 14-all.
It's a brave man who calls 'set one' at 2-0 down, but that's what Power did, giving match-ball to Nicol. After several lets Power finally clinched it, and was smiling once again rather than grimacing.
"It was match ball and I was definitely surprised to see him ask for set-one. It isn't the norm, but then it is Jonathon," said Nicol.
"I always call set-one, said Power.
But the miracle comeback was not to be, as Nicol took an early lead in the fourth, 9-2, and this time there was no way back for Power. Power revealed afterwards that his back was suffering from an old injury that had flared up again.
"I got spasms in my back and that was the beginning of the end. I have had this problem for a long time. It is too bad it happened today for I was playing well and dominating. But the injury affected my movement," Power, who had been hoping to remain undefeated since wearing his new line of sports shoes, told the SCMP.
"I thought I had him. I thought he was tired and that I would win. The spasms had gone away by then and I was starting to feel good. But then I came back and played such a bad fourth game and gave him a 9-2 lead. He was tough mentally today," Power said.
Power was philosophical in defeat - his first wearing his new shoes. "I'm tired after a hard week," said the Canadian. "It's been a hard draw for me here, no easy matches. But I've got 10 days rest now before the US Open in Boston, so I'm hoping to be back on top form then."
Nicol was clearly pleased with his third Hong Kong title. "I knew that leading 2-0, it would be very difficult for him to come back. It would have been nice to win in three, but I knew after the third that he didn't have much left in the tank for the fourth," said Nicol. "The biggest thing for me was not to lose today and go 5-0 down to him this year. I knew I was moving well enough to be able to soak up anything he threw at me in the match. I'm firmly back on track now."
Nicol and Power moved further ahead of the field in the
rankings for September, announced today. Their next appointed clash is
in the US Open in
Boston, assuming they both make the final again ...
The Fan's View
Nicol and Power have met
Their career record
The Fan's View