France's Thierry Lincou claimed one of the most
dramatic victories of his career when he fought back from
two games down to defeat Australian favourite David
Palmer in the final of the Liverpool 08 Open Squash
Championship at St George's Hall in the heart
The 83-minute encounter provided a sensational climax to
the international squash circuit's richest ranking event
in England for five years, which attracted a star-studded
field for the first ever major event on Merseyside to be
played on a state-of-the-art all-glass court.
In a notable breakthrough for the inaugural event, staged
to highlight Liverpool's status as the 2008 European
Capital of Culture, the final was broadcast live on
Palmer, who boasts a 7/2 head-to-head career against the
Frenchman, started off at a blistering pace – taking the
first game after 11 minutes. In the second, Palmer
led 9-6, but Lincou caught up to earn the first game ball.
Palmer, however, saved it and went on to extend his lead
to 2/0 by winning the tie-break.
The 30-year-old world No3 from Marseille adopted a
completely different tactic in the third, mixing up the
pace and clearly unsettling his opponent. Lincou
took the game to reduce Palmer's advantage, but the
29-year-old from New South Wales raced to a 5-0, then 8-5,
lead in the fourth – and again it looked as if the title
was heading to Australia.
But in a single hand, Lincou secured the game to draw
level – and 19 minutes later, in a fifth game decider in
which Palmer was awarded a conduct stroke against him for
hurling his racket out of the court in frustration, the
Frenchman raised his hand in triumph in celebration of a
remarkable 3-11, 10-11 (0-2), 11-5, 11-8, 11-8 victory in
"That was the worst choke of my life, without doubt" said
a despondent Palmer afterwards. "It's ridiculous to
lose from that position – but all credit to Thierry,"
added Palmer – who, in his 40th international
final, had never before lost after winning the first two
Despite the final lacking any home interest, Lincou
surprisingly acknowledged help from his great rival
Peter Nicol, the Englishman who topped the world
rankings for 60 months and won two Commonwealth Games
gold medals in Melbourne in March.
"After losing the first two games, I thought about what
Peter Nicol would do at this stage – he has staged some
fantastic comebacks, lobbing the ball and trying to break
up the pace.
"Peter is so clever – he has this capacity to drive me
crazy and gets me really frustrated, so I thought I would
try and do this to David!" said the victorious Frenchman
"But at the beginning of the game, I just couldn't handle
the pace that David was playing at – he was so quick on
The Liverpool Open 08 Championship, presented jointly by
Squash UK and the Liverpool Culture Company,
was conceived to celebrate "Liverpool Performs" year – the
third themed year in the build up to 2008 when the
Merseyside city is the European Capital of Culture.
The year focuses on sport and arts – and presented
alongside one of the biggest international squash events
of the year were performances by rock band Lost for
Words (featuring squash players Lee Beachill
and James Willstrop); dance company X-TENSION;
samba reggae band Batala; and keyboard player
"The Liverpool 08 Open gave us a perfect opportunity to
bring together sport and arts in an iconic venue," said
John Moore, Creative Sports Manager for the Liverpool
"The event has been a huge success – beyond our
expectations. And today's final was just the icing
on the cake, a simply magnificent climax to a great week
at St Georges Hall.
Tournament promoter Alan Thatcher added: "I'm sure
that this match will be talked about in and around the
city of Liverpool for months to come – with the result
that fans will be clamouring to have the event brought
back again to St George's Hall in a year's time."