SEMI-Finals, Wed 25 Feb


[3] Peter Nicol (Eng) bt [6] Jonathon Power (Can)
 15/5, 15/11, 15/8   (67m)

[2] John White (Sco) v [4] 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 to watch.”

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 risk.”

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 working hard.”

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 new client.”

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.

SquashPics in New York
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Nicol on top this time



White masters Beachill

SquashPics in New York
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