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
"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
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
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.
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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.