4/1 the Field
Malcolm previews a wide open draw
Peter Nicol, seeded 1, goes to Boston on
the back of two disappointing performances in the
Mamut English Open and the Cathay Pacific Hong
Kong Open. As holder he will need a big championship to hold on to his
world no 1 spot.
Thierry Lincou, the Hong Kong winner is in Nicol's half, but first
the world no 1 will have to stave off Anthony Ricketts and then
probably in-form improver Nick Matthew. Jonathon Power, who
hinted at better things to come in Hong Kong, stands in Lincou's way.
The bottom half contains Lee Beachill, John White, David
Palmer and Amr Shabana. Palmer has James Willstrop for a
first opponent and Shabana has Joe Kneipp, neither of which will be a
Beachill has a lot to play for, since he is a major contender for no 1 and
he should make the semis.
The mix is different from Hong Kong and all the more intriguing for that.
The qualifier is frighteningly strong, even if you're not playing in it, and
the four survivors will have to be taken seriously.
The quality of play, with the 11 scoring such a success in Hong Kong was
supreme, and I have no doubt the players will produce similar fare in
Very strange is the timing of the first round matches, which means
some players get a day's rest and some don't, when they will then meet in
the second round. That doesn't seem right and an explanation would be of
Missing from the draw are the two artful dodgers Karim Darwish and
Gregory Gaultier, who seem happier playing lesser PSA events to preserve
their ranking, rather than facing the big boys. It's hard to figure and
again an explanation would be interesting.
If there was betting on the event, which sadly there is not yet - it has to
come - it would be a wide open market, around 4/1 the field. Picking a
winner would be quite an achievement, but I suppose on the back of Hong Kong
and his excellent form there, Lincou's claims are as good as anyone's.
One thing is certain - the squash will be entertaining and exciting, and
with 11 scoring we are entering a new era.
wins in 2003
Peter Nicol (Eng)
Anthony Ricketts (Aus)
 Nick Matthew (Eng)
 Thierry Lincou (Fra)
 Jonathon Power (Can)
Omar Elborolossy (Egy)
 John White (Sco)
 David Palmer (Aus)
James Willstrop (Eng)
 Amr Shabana (Egy)
Joe Kneipp (Aus)
 Lee Beachill (Eng)
Squash @ Symphony Hall