Sheikha Al Saad 2005
07-12 March, Kuwait
, $65k 

Contrasting Fortunes
For Nicols In Kuwait

The finals of the Sheikha Al Saad Kuwait Open Squash Championships produced contrasting fortunes for the sport's two famous Nicols - with Malaysia's Nicol David beating Natalie Grainger in the women's final to lift the first WISPA Grand Prix title of her career, and England's Peter Nicol missing out on the chance to claim his 50th PSA Tour crown by going down in four games in the men's final to Australia's David Palmer.

For the third successive day, the major tournament dedicated to the memory of Sheikha Al Sa'ad Al-Sabah, a member of the Kuwaiti Royal family who died two years ago, was affected by rain - with action transferred from the all-glass showcourt mounted at the Green Island leisure park to the conventional plaster courts at the Salmiya Club in Kuwait City.

British Open champion David Palmer, the third seed, was facing his third successive England team player in the event after beating Yorkshiremen James Willstrop and second seed Lee Beachill in the previous rounds.  Fourth seed Nicol was perhaps feeling the effects of his 85-quarter-final marathon against Australian Anthony Ricketts - in which he saved six match-balls before sealing victory - and then his semi-final upset over top-seeded Frenchman Thierry Lincou.

Palmer took the opening game before the English left-hander drew level with a masterful display of inventive squash.  But the Belgium-based Australian, in his 33rd PSA final, reasserted his authority on the game to clinch an 11-4 9-11 11-3 11-6 victory in 45 minutes to claim his 16th PSA crown.

Earlier, Malaysia's twice world junior champion Nicol David truly came of age on the senior circuit when she triumphed 4-9 9-6 9-7 10-8 in 45 minutes over experienced sixth seed Natalie Grainger.

Both players had produced stunning upsets to reach the Kuwait climax - David trouncing Australia's world No1 Rachael Grinham after being whitewashed in the first game, and Grainger inflicting the first defeat in four tournaments on the world No2 from the Netherlands Vanessa Atkinson.

"When I got to the court, Natalie started off at a furious pace and I had all my attention on just trying to hold on to her and slow the rhythms down to where I could play my own game," said Nicol after winning her fifth, and biggest, WISPA World Tour title.

David Palmer is back in top form to put out Lee Beachill then Peter Nicol in winning the Sheikha Al Saad title.

Colin McQuillan from Kuwait


Sheikha Al Saad 2005
07-12 March,  Kuwait, $65k
1st Round
9th Mar
10th Mar
11th Mar
12th Mar
[1] Thierry Lincou (Fra)
10-11 (7-9), 11-8, 11-9, 11-10 (2-0) (82m)
Joe Kneipp (Aus)  19.00 GI
Thierry Lincou
7-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-6 (57m)
 Karim Darwish
Thierry Lincou
11-3, 11-4, 7-11, 11-10 (2-0)
Peter Nicol
Peter Nicol

11-4, 9-11, 11-3, 11-6

David Palmer

[8] Karim Darwish (Eng)
11-9, 11-8, 11-6 (42m)
Adrian Grant (Eng)
[4] Peter Nicol (Eng)
11-10 (3-1), 11-6, 11-1 (29m)
Mansoor Zaman (Pak)
Peter Nicol
11-6, 11-9, 8-11, 10-11 (0-2), 11-10 (2-0) (85m)
Anthony Ricketts
[7] Anthony Ricketts (Aus)
10-11 (5-7) 11-3, 11-7, 11-7,
8-11, 11-4 (64m)
Mohammed Abbas
Ong Beng Hee (Mas)
11-1, 11-10 (3-1) 11-4 (29m)
[6] James Willstrop (Eng)
James Willstrop
11-6, 9-11, 11-3, 11-5 (58m)
David Palmer
David Palmer
11-7, 11-9, 9-11,
Lee Beachill
Abdullah Amezayen (Kuw)
11-9, 11-6, 11-5 (23m)
[3] David Palmer (Aus)
Weael el Hindi (Eg)
6-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-8 (42m)
[5] Amr Shabana (Egy)
Amr Shabana
11-8, 11-9, 11-7 (44m)
Lee Beachill
 Davide Bianchetti (Egy)
11-7, 11-9, 11-1 (40m)
[2] Lee Beachill (Eng)

Qualifying 07/08 Mar:

  First Round:
Mohammed Abbas (Egy) bt Jean-Michel Arcucci (Fra) 11/6, 9/11, 11/3, 9/11, 11/2 (70m)
  Joey Barrington (Eng) bt Arshad Iqbal Burki (Pak) 11/7, 4/0 rtd
  Bradley Ball (Eng) bt Farrukh Zaman (Pak) 11/8, 11/6, 11/9 (28m)
  Davide Bianchetti (Ita) bt Jago Nardelli (Eng) 11/5, 11/4, 11/5 (26m)
  Peter Barker (Eng) bt Nassar B Ali-Ramzi (Kuw) 11/7, 11/3, 11/3 (23m)
  Mansoor Zaman (Pak) bt Mohammed Hajeyah (Kuw) 11/7, 12/14, 11/5, 11/5 (41m)
  Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned) bt Bader Al Hussaini (Kuw) 11/8, 11/4, 7/11, 1/11, 14/12
  Wael El Hindi (Egy) bt Ali Al Ramzi (Kuw) 11/6, 8/11, 11/5, 11/5 (35m)

Men's qualifying finals:
Mohammed Abbas (EGY) bt Joey Barrington (ENG)   11-8, 11-6, 11-6 (38m)
Davide Bianchetti (ITA) bt Bradley Ball (ENG)   10-11 (1-3), 11-4, 11-9, 11-7 (67m)
Mansoor Zaman (PAK) bt Peter Barker (ENG)   11-3, 5-1 ret.
Wael El Hindi (EGY) bt Laurens Jan Anjema (NED)     5-11, 11-7, 11-10 (3-1), 11-4 (53m)

Sheikha Al Saad 2005
07-12 March,  Kuwait, $65k
1st Round
9th Mar
10th Mar
11th Mar
12th Mar
(1) Rachael Grinham (Aus)
6-9, 9-7, 10-8, 9-4 (80m)
Vicky Botwright (Eng)
Rachael Grinham
7-9, 9-0, 9-5, 9-5 (54m)
Linda Elriani
Rachael Grinham
0-9, 9-7, 9-4, 9-7 (52m)
Nicol David
Nicol David
4-9, 9-6, 9-7, 10-8 (45m)

Natalie Grainger

(5) Linda Elriani (Eng)
9-6, 5-9, 10-8, 9-3 (60m)
Alison Waters (Eng)
(4) Nicol David (Mas)
10-8, 9-3, 9-5 (35m)
Shelley Kitchen (NZ)
Nicol David
9-3, 9-1, 9-0 (24m)
Laura Lengthorn
(7) Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy)
Laura Lengthorn (Eng)
6-9, 9-4, 2-9, 9-3, 9-2 (52m)
Tania Bailey (Eng)
9-0, 2-9, 9-3, 9-7 (56m)
(6) Natalie Grainger (USA)
Natalie Grainger
9-6, 9-6, 9-6 (31m)
Natalie Grinham
Natalie Grainger
10-8, 9-7, 1-9, 8-10, 9-5 (57m)
Vanessa Atkinson
Fiona Geaves (Eng)
9-1, 9-10, 9-5, 9-1 (86m)
(3) Natalie Grinham (Aus)
Jenny Duncalf (Eng)
8-10, 9-7, 2-9, 9-4, 10-9 (86m)
(8) Jenny Tranfield (Eng)
Jenny Duncalf
9-0, 9-5, 9-7 (37m)

Vanessa Atkinson
 Pamela Nimmo (Sco)
9-7, 9-2, 9-3 (27m)
(2) Vanessa Atkinson (Ned)

Qualifying 07/08 Mar:

Women's qualifying finals:
Laura-Jane Lengthorn (ENG) bt Isabelle Stoehr (FRA)     4-9, 9-6, 9-5, 4-9, 9-5 (77m)
Pamela Nimmo (SCO) bt Engy Kheirallah (EGY)     9-0, 5-9, 9-5, 9-6 (48m)
Tania Bailey (ENG) bt Raneem El Weleily (EGY)   9-2, 9-3, 9-1 (26m)
Alison Waters (ENG) bt Madeline Perry (IRL)     9-3, 9-2, 3-9, 9-3 (41m)


Top Seeds Crash In Kuwait

After a second day of rain-affected matches in the Sheikha Al Saad Kuwait Open Squash Championships, all four top seeds crashed out at the semi-final stages today (Friday) in Kuwait City.

The first game of the first women's semi-final was completed on the all-glass open-air showcourt on Green Island - before the heavens opened and play was transferred for the second time in 24 hours onto the conventional courts at Kuwait City's Salmiya Club.

The balance of power was also dramatically reversed, for after top-seeded Australian Rachael Grinham forged a 9-0 advantage over her opponent Nicol David on Green Island, it was the fourth-seeded Malaysian who settled into the new environment more readily as she wrapped up a sensational 0-9 9-7 9-4 9-7 victory in 52 minutes to reserve her unexpected place in the women's final.

"I was comfortable as soon as I got back on the courts I had been playing on all week," David admitted.  "The rain was my friend today.  Rachael just didn't settle after the second start," added the 21-year-old from Penang on the eve of her 15th WISPA World Tour final appearance.

Her surprise opponent will be Natalie Grainger, the sixth seed from the USA who ended the unbeaten 16-match run of second Vanessa Atkinson by beating the Netherlands star 10-8 9-7 1-9 8-10 9-5 in 57 minutes.

Shocks shattered the seedings in the men's event too when Australia's third seed David Palmer upset second-seeded Englishman Lee Beachill 11-7 11-9 9-11 11-3 in 55 minutes to reverse the result of their last meeting in the World Open in December.   Palmer, celebrating his 33rd PSA Tour final appearance, will meet his third England team member in the event when he takes on fourth seed Peter Nicol.

Nicol, the defending champion who saved six match balls against Australia's Anthony Ricketts to reach the semi-finals, maintained his remarkable staying power to overcome France's top seed and world No1 Thierry Lincou 11-3 11-4 7-11 11-10 in 64 minutes to reach his 69th PSA final.

Thus the indefatigable 31-year-old who is undefeated in the Kuwait Open in eight years (after winning the 97, 98 and 2004 events) now stands one match away from a remarkable golden milestone:  his 50th PSA Tour title



Nicol Avenges New York Defeat In Dramatic Style

England's defending champion Peter Nicol saved himself from the jaws of defeat in a dramatic quarter-final of the Sheikha Al Saad Kuwait Open Squash Championships today (Thursday) on Green Island, Kuwait.

The fourth seed led 2/0 against seventh seed Anthony Ricketts, the Australian who beat him en-route to winning the Tournament of Champions title for the first time last month in New York.

And it looked as if history as going to be repeated as Ricketts levelled the match and held match-ball at 10-4 in the decider.  But Nicol's powers of recovery are legendary - and the 31-year-old former world No1 saved six match-balls before converting his first in the second point of the tie-break to record a stunning 11-6 11-9 8-11 10-11 11-10 victory in 85 minutes.

"I was in real trouble at 2-8," Nicol admitted.  "Anthony was playing with real force and dominating the front court firing short shots in behind his heavy driving that I was having trouble getting round him for.  I was flapping about a bit really.  Then he just took his foot off the gas a bit.  Perhaps he thought it was as good as won and he just had to play in a relaxed way until the last point fell his way.

"But it let me into the rallies again and I found a few points reaching forward to drive one ball through him down the middle of the court, push another across the face of the frontwall while he was looking for a drop to the other side and then a good long backhand drop that slipped nicely into the nick."

Nicol now meets top seed Thierry Lincou who, in the last match of the evening, fought back from a game down to beat Egypt's eighth seed Karim Darwish 7-11 11-6 11-6 11-6 in 57 minutes.

The other men's semi-final will also feature the two players in the bottom half of the draw expected to reach the last four - with second seed Lee Beachill taking on third seed David Palmer.

In fact, Beachill was only mid-way through his quarter-final clash against Egypt's fifth seed Amr Shabana when 'rain stopped play' on the all-glass showcourt on Green Island - and play for the remaining men's matches had to be transferred to the Salmiya Club in Kuwait City!  After a gap of more than 100 minutes, the match was resumed on the club's conventional courts and Englishman Beachill soon celebrated his 11-8 11-9 11-7 win in 44 minutes of playing time - thus avenging his two defeats by the Egyptian earlier this year.

In the other quarter-final, Australian David Palmer beat James Willstrop 11-6 9-11 11-3 11-5 in 58 minutes to repeat his US Open victory over the Englishman late last year.

There was a notable upset in the women's event when USA's sixth seed Natalie Grainger pulled off a straight games win over Australia's No3 seed Natalie Grinham.  Grainger's 9-6 9-6 9-6 victory in 31 minutes resulted in Grinham failing to reach her expected place in a WISPA semi-final for the second event in a row.

Washington-based Grainger will now take on second seed Vanessa Atkinson for a place in the final.

The older of the two Grinham sisters will contest the other semi-final after top seed Rachael Grinham recovered from a game behind to beat fifth seed Linda Elriani 7-9 9-0 9-5 9-5 in 54 minutes - gaining revenge for her first loss to the Englishwoman in three years last month in New York.

Grinham senior will face fourth seed Nicol David, the Malaysian who ended the run of English qualifier Laura-Jane Lengthorn with a 9-3 9-1 9-0 scoreline in just 24 minutes.

Round 1
Lengthorn Overpowers Omneya, While It's 15 Up For Vanessa

English qualifier Laura-Jane Lengthorn captured a notable scalp on the opening day of action in the women's Sheikha Al Saad Kuwait Open Squash Championships when she toppled seventh-seeded Egyptian Omneya Abdel Kawy to reach the last eight of the second WISPA World Tour Grand Prix event of the year, on Green Island, Kuwait.

In the men's event, which is also dedicated to the memory of Sheikha Al Sa'ad Al-Sabah, a member of the Kuwaiti Royal family who died two years ago, defending champion Peter Nicol took just 29 minutes to overcome fellow left-hander Mansoor Zaman to reach the quarter-finals.

Lengthorn, the world No21 from Preston in Lancashire, had never before beaten Kawy, ranked 12 places higher - but recovered from a game down to upset the 19-year-old world junior champion 6-9 9-4 2-9 9-3 9-2 in 52 minutes.

"I am just delighted," said the 21-year-old afterwards.  "I have never beaten Omneya before and I think she cracked here.  I won the fourth game quite well and the fifth went my way a bit at the start.  I knew I could take it if I stayed strong and kept playing my own game."

Lengthorn now takes on Malaysia's Nicol David - Kawy's predecessor as world junior champion - after the fourth seed despatched New Zealand's Shelley Kitchen 10-8 9-3 9-5 in 35 minutes.

Second seed Vanessa Atkinson notched up her 15th successive match win on the WISPA Tour when she beat Scottish qualifier Pamela Nimmo 9-7 9-2 9-3 in 27 minutes to make amends for her surprise first round loss at the same stage last year.  The in-form woman player of the moment, Atkinson clinched the World Open title in the final event of last year, then won the Tournament of Champions crown in New York last month to extend her unbeaten run.

England selectors will undoubtedly have watched with interest the all-Yorkshire first round battle between eighth seed Jenny Tranfield and unseeded Jenny Duncalf, after the latter beat the former in the recent British National Championships.  This time, the result was reversed, as Duncalf caused the second upset in the women's event to beat Tranfield 8-10 9-7 2-9 9-4 10-9 in an 86-minute marathon.  Duncalf's reward is a quarter-final clash with Atkinson.

In the men's event, fourth seed Nicol's 11-10 11-6 11-1 victory over Pakistan's Mansoor Zaman takes the former world No1 through to a quarter-final meeting with Australia's Anthony Ricketts, the last person to beat the Englishman on the PSA Tour.  Ricketts prevailed in the last eight of the Tournament of Champions in New York before going on to pick up the first Super Series title of his career.

Ricketts was made to work hard for his first round victory.  The seventh-seeded Australian was taken to five games by qualifier Mohammed Abbas before beating the Egyptian 10-11 11-3 11-7 8-11 11-4 in 64 minutes.  

In the first of the final two games of the night, Australia's third seed David Palmer extinguished local interest in the event when he despatched wild-carded Kuwaiti Abdullah Almezayen 11-9 11-6 11-5 in just 23 minutes.

The audience was treated to a more evenly-contested battle for the finale when Thierry Lincou, the world No1 and world champion, took on Australian Joseph Kneipp.  It took the top-seeded Frenchman 82 minutes to get the better of unseeded Kneipp, a former world No10 - and, after losing a long first game which went to 9-7 in the tie-break, Lincou went on the record a 10-11 11-8 11-9 11-10 victory and claim a place in the last eight.



English Collapse In Men's Kuwait Qualifiers - But Survive In Women's

England failed to get a single player through
to the  men's qualifying finals of the Sheikha Al Saad Kuwait Open Squash Championships, though all three contenders in the women's event survived to make the first round proper in Green Island, Kuwait.

Joey Barrington, runner-up in last week's COAS International in Pakistan, went down 11-8 11-6 11-6 to Mohammed Abbas.  The Egyptian is rewarded with a first round clash against seventh seed Anthony Ricketts, the Australian winner of last month's Tournament of Champions in New York.

After taking the first game against Italian Davide Bianchetti, Bradley Ball battled for 67 minutes but was beaten 10-11 11-4 11-9 11-7 by the world No34 from Brescia.  Bianchetti will now face second seed Lee Beachill.

Sickness prevented Peter Barker lasting the complete match against Pakistan's Mansoor Zaman.  The Peshawar left-hander raced to an 11-3 5-1 lead before Barker threw in the towel to let Zaman into the main draw - where he will meet fellow left-hander Peter Nicol, the defending champion from England.

The final men's qualifying place went to Egypt's Wael El Hindi, whose 5-11 11-7 11-10 11-4 victory over Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema rewarded him with a match against fellow Egyptian Amr Shabana, the fifth seed.

It was an all-British line-up after the women's final qualifiers - with Scotland's Pamela Nimmo joined by English players Laura-Jane Lengthorn, Tania Bailey and Alison Waters.

Waters avenged two defeats by Madeline Perry last year to beat the Irish champion 9-3 9-2 3-9 9-3 in 41 minutes.  Her opponent in the first round is compatriot Linda Elriani, the fifth seed from Eastbourne who beat Waters in last month's British National Championship final to win the title for the first time.

Crunch Time In Kuwait For Rachael

After failing to fulfil her top seeding in her the four WISPA World Tour events, Australia's Rachael Grinham will be going all out to successfully defend her title in the Women's Sheikha Al Saad Kuwait Open Squash Championship, which gets underway on Green Island in Kuwait tomorrow (Wednesday).

Grinham is top seed in the $42,500 WISPA Grand Prix event - the second of the year - and is expected to meet second seed Vanessa Atkinson in Saturday's final.

The 28-year-old Australian claimed five WISPA titles last year and became world No1 in August.  However, the Queenslander is in danger of losing the top spot to world No2 Atkinson, who rounded off last year by winning the World Open title, then clinched the Tournament of Champions trophy in New York last month.

The pair met seven times in 2004, with Grinham ahead 4/3 - but it was the Dutch champion who prevailed in the two most recent encounters, in December's Qatar Classic final and World Open semi-finals.

Grinham takes on England's Vicky Botwright, a Tournament of Champions semi-finalist, in the first round - and is then likely to face another English opponent Linda Elriani for a place in the semi-finals.  Elriani clinched her first victory over the Australian in three years in the other New York semi.

Atkinson, also 28, from The Hague, meets a qualifier in the first round in Kuwait before a predicted semi-final against Rachael's sister Natalie Grinham, a regular practice partner in the Netherlands