Devastating Nicol into squash's last four
29 July 2002
But New Zealand's Leilani Rorani fails to make the next round in an upset.
Peter Nicol defeats Graham Ryding
Peter Nicol, England’s world No 1 and defending Commonwealth Games gold medallist, brushed aside the spirited challenge of Canada’s Graham Ryding to set up a mouth-watering semi-final clash with Australia’s David Palmer.
Ryding held the London-based Scot who represents England at the start of the opening game, but Nicol upped the tempo and emerged a 9-1, 9-2, 9-3 winner in a match that will be remembered for some sensational rallies.
After his victory, Nicol said: “It’s now becoming less like the Commonwealth Games and more like a normal tournament. In the first few rounds you play some players who aren’t professional and then you go into the next round against a top 16 player. It can be a bit of shock. But now it’s much more like another tournament. An important one but a normal tournament.”
World No 3 Palmer made light work of former England captain Chris Walker in a bad tempered match. The former world No 1 controlled the game from the outset, although Walker started well and held 4-4 in the opening game before slipping behind to lose it 9-5.
The USA-based former world No 4 was given a conduct warning mid-way through the second game for dissent. Despite his valiant cry of ‘c’mon England’ at 1-5 in the third game, he was eventually beaten 9-5, 9-1, 9-1 in 47 minutes, although he retained his sense of humour to the bitter end by dishing out his very own warning to the referee for inconsistency.
Australian world No 1 Sarah Fitz-gerald struggled to get going in her encounter with the sixth seed and world No 9 Stephanie Brind (ENG).
She opened up a five-point lead at the start of the first game, but 25-year-old Brind – a member of the English team series-winning squad in 2000 - staged a gritty fight back and had a game ball serve at 8-7.
Fitz-gerald, the twice British Open and four-times world champion, eventually won the opener 10-8 in 17 minutes and went on to clinch the match in clinical style 9-3, 9-1 18 minutes later.
She said: “Everyone’s expecting me to win the gold medal but in the other half of the draw, depending on who comes through, there are two players there who are quite capable of doing some damage so we have to wait and see what happens today and tomorrow.”
Australia’s Rachael Grinham caused the biggest upset of the morning with her three-game demolition of the fourth-seeded New Zealander Leilaini Rorani. Grinham, the world No 11 who lives in Cairo, won the opening game 9-1 and came from 1-6 down in the second to win 10-8.
Rorani, out of action for nearly six months with an Achilles tendon tear, rallied in the third game and edged into a 6-1 lead, only to be pegged back by the determined Australian, who closed out the match with a 9-6 win.
Despite having only returned to competition after injury, Rorani commented: “I feel really disappointed. I don’t really look at it like it’s good to be back. It is and it’s good to be representing New Zealand, but it’s still really hard when you lose whether you are on form or just coming back.”
Info News Service/ndp/sdb