QUARTER-Finals, Mon 23 & Tue 24 Feb

Quarters, Day ONE

Tue 24 Feb:

[2] John White (Sco) bt  [13] James Willstrop (Eng)
      15/13, 10/15, 15/6, 15/8 (67m)

[4]  Lee Beachill (Eng) bt [7] Joe Kneipp (Aus)
      15/14, 15/3, 15/4 (48m)

White stops Willstrop ...
now for Beachill
Beth Rasin reports from New York

Second seed John White had a game plan going into tonight’s match against James Willstrop, the hottest youngster in squash. “I wanted to go out as hard and fast as possible,” said White.

That’s saying a lot when one is without dispute the hardest hitting player on the tour, but 20-year old Willstrop didn’t immediately wilt in the face of his 30-year-old opponent’s power or experience.

It was nip and tuck in the first game with White prevailing by a mere two points after Willstrop made what he called “a few strange errors.”

Displaying remarkable maturity, the young Englishman successfully slowed the pace in the second game to counter the power hitting from White and evened the match.

A fast start in the third and White was off and running again with a lead he never relinquished. “I think the difference in the match was the good starts that John got in each game. John’s a confidence player and once he gets ahead, he’s really tough,” said Willstrop in his after-match assessment.

White took an early five-point lead in the fourth at 7-2, but Willstrop fought his way back to 5-7 as the crowd roared its approval. A long point that saw each player use every shot in his arsenal and cover every corner of the court went to White. Despite giving the serve back to Willstrop as a result of a tired looking tin, White revved up the pace at 6-8 to power the ball just past his opponents 6'5” reach.

Willstrop, looking like he was finally feeling the effects of his marathon second round match against David Palmer and also the cumulative effect of a successful few months at the end of the year when he was upsetting a lot of higher-seeded players resulting in a lot of match play, was just a step slower to the ball than he had been throughout the tournament and was unable to stage any kind of comeback attempt. Fittingly, at match ball, White moved his opponent up in the court and then drove a power cross court past Willstrop to win the match.

“It always feel good to win,” White said after the match, “and this was a little extra special because James had beaten me last month.”

The win guarantees White sufficient points to become world number one when the March rankings are released, following the failure of current number one Thierry Lincou to reach the semi-finals.

Kneipp collapses against Beachill
White’s opponent in the semi-final will be Englishman Lee Beachill who found himself in hard fought battle in the first game of his match with Australian Joe Kneipp.

Once Beachill prevailed 15-14, Kneipp inexplicably couldn’t make anything happen in the next two games, winning only seven points in the two games combined.

“I had one of my worst days on court tonight,” said Kneipp after the match. “It was just a really bad day at the office.”

The White-Beachill match, a replay of December's Qatar Classic and this month's British National finals (with the score standing at one-all),  will follow the greatly anticipated semifinal match between defending champion Peter Nicol and four-time titleholder Jonathon Power.

In a decade of match play, there is only the slightest margin of difference. Nicol leads the rivalry 19-17 in terms of match victories but the points tally shows 1548 to Nicol, and 1546 to Power!




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No way past White this time


Duck, James!











Comfortable for Beachill

Mon 23 Feb:
[6] Jonathon Power (Can) bt [1] Thierry Lincou (Fra)
       8/15, 15/6, 15/6, 5/15, 15/12 (98m)

[3] Peter Nicol (Eng) bt [8] Nick Matthew (Eng)
      15-8, 15-7, 15-6  (40m)

Nicol v Power - relive the rivalry

Defending Champion Nicol and
Four-time Titleholder Power
to  Meet in Semifinal
Beth Rasin reports from New York

New York, NY: Feb. 23 – Another chapter will be written in the long-running rivalry between England’s Peter Nicol and Canada’s Jonathon Power who will meet in the semifinals of the Bear Stearns Tournament of Champions at Grand Central Terminal after winning their quarterfinal matches today.

Seventh seeded Power earned his berth in the semifinal by hanging tough against top seeded Thierry Lincou in a 98 minute match that was marked by several changes in momentum, long carefully crafted points and ultimately, the staying power of a champion.

“I’m just relieved,” said Power after the match. “It was tough from the beginning. I was on the wrong side of the officiating, he was playing well and we were both fighting for a little space.”

In the first game Lincou looked very much like the world #1 that he is, using consistent rails deep in the court to keep Power playing from behind. In the second and third games, Power used his lightening quick racquet to turn the pace up a notch and this time it was the Frenchman who was scrambling in the backcourt. After winning each of those games, 15-6, the four-time titleholder looked as though he would cruise into the next round.

But the #1 seed was not done. He won the fourth by once again moving Power to the back of the court and took a five-point lead in the fifth. Power, who had become distracted earlier in the match by some refereeing calls with which he did not agree, regained his focus and consistency to start chipping away at Lincou’s lead. For Lincou, the turning point in the match came when he was ahead 10-7 in the fifth.

“We played a long point and he moved me around the court a lot. Even though it ended with a let and I was up by three points, that was it.”

Indeed, Power then snatched six consecutive points to go up 13-10. “When I was down 7-10, 8-10, the crowd gave me a big lift. It was like having a hometown crowd which I don’t have in very many places,” said the appreciative Power. Lincou nabbed two more points but Power closed out the match at 15-12 and the standing room only crowd rose to its feet in appreciation of the tenacity of both players.

After the match a rueful Lincou said, “Today Jonathon was takeable. But he is very strong mentally and he knows how to play the big points.”

Matthew can't live with  Nicol
Defending champion Peter Nicol needed just forty minutes to secure his place in the semifinals as he gave his young opponent, 23-year-old Nick Matthew a 40-minute lesson in clinical, efficient play.

“ I kept trying to sniff out chances to get back in the match,” said Matthew. “But every time I thought I might have an opening, Peter slammed the door shut. I did learn a lot from Peter tonight-mostly that I need to be as ruthless and clinical as he.”

Nicol, who relinquished the lead only once during the entire match when he was down 1-3 in the third, was focused on being efficient as possible as a result of some lingering fatigue effects from a virus that has plagued him periodically in the last year. “I’m not putting pressure on myself because I’m not feeling so well … and as a result I am playing really good squash,” said Nicol.

Both Nicol and Power are looking forward to their semifinal match. “There is always an extra edge when we play each other,” said Nicol. “There has to be … we have been one and two for so many years that there is always more on the line than just the match we are playing.”

The contrasting styles of the two players have helped cement their rivalries as one of the great ones – Power’s quickness and touch against Nicol’s finely honed technique and unsurpassed mental fortitude. Over ten years and 34 matches, Nicol has the edge, but barely, with 19 victories to Jonathon’s 17.

Nicol v Power - relive the rivalry


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Power relieved to get past Lincou
















Matthew can't live with Nicol

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