the 30-year-old from Marseille, enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2003. With a
consistency which left his rivals in the shade, Lincou reached the
semi-finals in nine successive events on the PSA Tour – and went on to
contest five finals.
His appearance in the 2003
World Open final in Lahore, Pakistan, in December ensured his position as
No1 in the first Dunlop PSA World Rankings published in 2004. When Lincou
first burst into the world top ten in April 2000, he overtook his
illustrious predecessor Julien Bonetat as the highest-ranked Frenchman of
all time. Now he is the country’s first ever world No1.
Lincou joined the PSA in
1994 after reaching the semi-finals of the World Junior Championships in New
Zealand in August. He claimed his first PSA Tour title, the International
Tirolean Championships in Austria, in October 96.
In 2000, Thierry led
France to their first appearance in the men’s European Team Championships’
final, where they lost out to defending champions England. For the next
four years, Lincou steered France to the finals, against England, but each
time came away as runners-up.
The breakthrough came in
October 2003, when the Lincou-led French squad achieved a historic
first-ever win over England in the semi-finals of the World Team
Championships in Austria to reach the finals for the first time.
Disaster struck in 2001
when he fell backwards off a weights machine in a gym in April and fractured
his right hand trying to break his fall. The injury to his racket hand
enforced a four-month lay-off – “but the time off-court gave me a chance to
look at my game again and build up my basic fitness,” Lincou said later.
Thierry reached his first
Super Series final in August 2001 when he stunned the world by beating Peter
Nicol, the world No1 and world champion, in the first round of the Cathay
Pacific Hong Kong Open.
Unseeded, Lincou went on
to meet British Open champion David Palmer in the final, losing in straight
games to the in-form Australian. Meanwhile, Thierry had endeared himself to
the hosts after revealing that his mother Luk Lan-sun was Chinese. Her
parents fled China during last century’s Communist revolution and set up
home in the Reunion Islands in the Pacific, where she and later Thierry
himself were born.
“I would love to go back,”
Lincou told the South China Morning Post at the time. “I’ve got Chinese
roots and blood. My mother does not know any Chinese. I don’t know any
either – but I hope to learn some.”
Despite being No1 in the
world, Lincou’s 2004 campaign got off to an unsettling start, with an ankle
injury preventing him from competing in the Dayton Open in the USA. First
round losses in the Kuwait Open and Bermuda Open led to the first Super
Series event of the year in Qatar where Thierry avenged his loss to Amr
Shabana in December’s World Open final in Pakistan. After beating the
Egyptian in the PSA Masters quarter-finals, Lincou lost to the eventual
champion Peter Nicol in the semis.
But his long-awaited PSA
title success was to come in the Super Series Finals in London in May.
After scoring qualifying victories over Joe Kneipp and Lee Beachill, Lincou
went on to beat England’s surprise semi-finalist Nick Matthew, then again
Joe Kneipp 10-11 11-9 11-2 11-1 in the final of the first event to use the
PSA’s new PAR-to-11 scoring system.
Lincou maintained this
momentum on the next event on the PSA Tour, the Hong Kong Open, where he
upset second seed Lee Beachill to reach the final where he beat another
Englishman Nick Matthew. Remarkable, despite winning the Super Series
Finals event earlier, this was Thierry's first Super Series ranking event
Already making up for his
poor start in the year, Lincou was now in overdrive and added a further PSA
title to his collection by winning the Canadian Classic in Toronto (beating
home hero Jonathon Power in the final).
Seeded to reach the World
Open final in Qatar in December, Lincou did just that – but went one better
by beating top seed Lee Beachill to become world champion for the first
He was justly rewarded by
a return to number one in the January 2005 Dunlop PSA world rankings.
After attending to
domestic duties in France with an eight win in the French National
Championships, Thierry returned to PSA matters in February's Tournament of
Championships in New York. He duly reached the final – marking the 25th
of his career – but he faced an in-form Anthony Ricketts who ultimately
clinched the title in his first win over the Frenchman in more than two