Peter Nicol (Eng) bt  Jonathon Power (Can)
15/5, 15/11, 15/8 (67m)
John White (Sco) v  Lee Beachill (Eng)
15/9, 15/13, 15/7 (63m)
Nicol makes fourth final in a row
Beth Rasin reports from New York
New York, NY: Feb. 25 – The crowd was
buzzing with great anticipation tonight in Grand Central Terminal as they
waited for the first match of the evening at the Bear Stearns Tournament
of Champions between defending champion Peter Nicol and four-time
titleholder Jonathon Power.
The two rivals have owned the title of this championship for the last six
years; the last player to win the championship before either of them was
the legendary Jansher Khan. Since 1999, there have only been six months in
which one or the other has not been ranked #1 in the world. Before this
semifinal match, they had played each other 36 times with Nicol holding a
two-match edge. Out of the 3094 points played in those 36 matches, Nicol
has won just two more than Power - 1548-1546.
The crowd was taken by surprise as Nicol jumped out to a big lead in the
first game and Power’s trademark pace and deft shotmaking were missing
from his game. The trouble became apparent as Power asked for an injury
timeout as a result of back spasms. The Canadian returned to the court and
quickly lost the game 15-5. In the second it looked as though he might be
able to mount a challenge as a one or two point lead seesawed back and
forth. When Nicol prevailed 15-13, there was some question as to whether
Power would even get back on court.
“I want to play,” he said to his coach Mike Way, hoping that the spasms
would release as he played. He began to move more freely in the third game
but it was too late.
“By that point, my game plan was gone and my mind wasn’t there,” said the
clearly disappointed Power.
Nicol, although happy to be in the final, was not all that pleased with
his own play.
“I played all right,” he said, “but it was all quite a bit average and a
bit anticlimactic. I did what I had to do. I was hitting the ball long,
but it wasn’t much fun for me to play and I don’t suppose it was much fun
New #1 White in ToC final Debut
In the title match, Nicol will meet second seed John White, who defeated
England’s Lee Beachill in the evening’s second match. Undeniably the
hardest hitter on the tour, White has rounded out his game to be more
patient and use his power more strategically.
“What I have learned as I have gotten older is that is most important to
always go back to the basics,” he said. Referring to his younger self,
White acknowledges, “The old Johnny White would always go for a nick or
three wall boast to get out of a tight spot. Now I go back to the basics
and try to have a two or three point cushion before I take that kind of
White led from start to finish in the first game, but Beachill made a run
in the second, jumping out to a 7-3 lead. White remained steady in the
face of the challenge. “I just told myself to stick to my game plan, which
was to keep enough pace on the ball so he wouldn’t be able to hold and
flick at the front of the court. I knew that if I was working hard, he was
After 29 minutes, making it the longest game of the championships, White
closed out the game 15-13. Beachill folded a bit in the third and the
Scotsman secured his first ever appearance in the Tournament of Champions
finals when he won the last game, 15-7, in just eight minutes.
Looking ahead to the final against Nicol, White said, “I’ll have a good
breakfast, a good hit and treat it like another day at the office with a
Win or lose in the finals, White will, at end of the month, officially
become the world #1, marking the first time that Scotsman will have scaled
the top of the rankings, while for Nicol even a victory will still see the
former Scot slip to number three.
Match number 37 in one of
sport's great rivalries
and Nicol moves 20-17 ahead.
in New York
more in the Gallery
Nicol on top this time
White masters Beachill
in New York
more in the Gallery