A lasting memory
from Palmer and Lincou
Richard Eaton

David Palmer, the twice former world champion, created a suitable memory for the climax of an outstanding career, winning a stunning encounter with fellow 35-year-old Thierry Lincou en route to the quarter-finals of his last World Open.

The Australian beat the Frenchman 11-9, 3-11, 11-8, 6-11, 11-9 in a contest of remarkable courage, endurance, and persistent skill between the two oldest men on the tour. Between them they produced such great rallies that the crowd was brought to its feet several times before the end.

The nostalgic masterpiece lasted more than an hour and a half, and when Lincou led 6-2, 8-5, and 9-7 in the final game he seemed likely to prevail, even against an opponent renowned for squeezing out of tight corners.

But once again Palmer somehow found an escape. He went for gambler’s volleys from wide positions, plunged to make improbable retrieves, and imposed his force of will as, after more than an hour and a half, both men approached the frontier of collapse.

“I realised half way through the match that this was going to be a nice way to finish,” said Palmer, in a rare sentimental moment. “At 2-1 – I probably shouldn’t have thought like this – I thought at least it’s a great atmosphere. I was desperate to make a match of it. Thierry is a master.

“I’m just happy to have got through now. It’s my last World Open and my last tournament. And I can be happy about the finish now.”

Lincou did little wrong. He admirably used the orthodoxies of good line and length, and mixed the short and the long games with increasing accuracy and consistency the longer the match went on.

As the denouement approached he was perhaps a little less inclined to take risks than the enterprising Palmer; on the other hand he was unlucky with a “no let” decision on the penultimate rally.

“It was a special match, a very meaningful match,” Lincou said. “It’s his last World Open and one of my last as well. It doesn’t matter that I lost – I could really feel some of the joy around there and some special feeling from the crowd.

“The quality of the squash was superb. Even if lost I went very far to stay alive. I have no regrets.”

Despite these gallant words, it was a cruel blow for Lincou, the only Frenchman to have won the World Open, for there is no certainty that he will get another significant attempt before his projected retirement in 2013.

Palmer’s reward is to play a quarter-final at the Luxor theatre where the tournament moves to a show court on Thursday.

His opponent is Karim Darwish, the former world number one from Egypt, who overcame Borja Golan, the reviving former top ten player from Spain, 11-9, 11-7, 11-1.

Later the World Open champion Nick Matthew criticised the match schedule after being made to work very hard by Mohamed El Shorbagy in a 8-11, 11-5, 11-9, 5-11, 11-1 win as he reached the quarter-finals.

“I’ve had to play three matches on a club court, whereas players in the bottom half haven’t – I think I deserve better as defending champion,” Matthew said after an exhausting 100-minute tussle with the eighth-seeded former world junior champion from Egypt.

Earlier Samantha Teran, the first Mexican to reach the world’s top 20, suggested she can go higher still when she ended former world champion Rachael Grinham’s chances of winning the title back.

The 15th seeded player did that with a 4-11, 11-2, 11-3, 12-10 win over the deftly-skilled Australian who won the World Open four years ago in Madrid and who had been seeded for a semi-final slot this time.

Teran next plays Dipika Pallikal, the 20-year-old from Chennai who last month reached the world’s top 20 for the first time, and now became the first Indian to make a World Open quarter-final, winning 11-6, 11-7, 11-7 against Kanzy El Defrawy, the Egyptian qualifier.

Two front-line contenders from England, the second-seeded Jenny Duncalf and the fifth-seeded Laura Massaro, also won well and will now face each other. Nicol David continues her bid for a record sixth World Open in the last sixteen against Nour El Sherbini on Thursday.

Also from Richard Eaton:

Matthew Aware ] Nicol Wants More ] Gaultier a contender again? ] Thierry Goes On ] Unusual start for Nicol ] [ Thanks for the Memories ] The Great Illusionist Escapes ] Ashour Retires ] Gregory's Third ] Matthew makes it Two ]

Matthew Aware ] Nicol Wants More ] Gaultier a contender again? ] Thierry Goes On ] Unusual start for Nicol ] [ Thanks for the Memories ] The Great Illusionist Escapes ] Ashour Retires ] Gregory's Third ] Matthew makes it Two ]

Lincou v Palmer Photo Gallery

Lincou v Palmer Photo Gallery

 

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