THE FINALS IN AMSTERDAM ...                       SEMI-FINALS
Saturday: The Finals      Framboise reports
 
Men's Final:
[1] ENGLAND  bt [2] FRANCE  4-0
 
Lee Beachill
bt Thierry Lincou          9/4, 7/9, 9/4 (56m)
Peter Nicol bt Gregory Gaultier        9/4, 4/9, 10/8 (37m)
Nick Matthew bt Renan Lavigne       9/4, 9/3, 9/0  (48m)
James Willstrop bt Laurent Elriani    9/3, 9/2, 9/5 (51m)


Women's Final:
[1] ENGLAND bt [2] NETHERLANDS  2-1
 
Linda Elriani lost to Vanessa Atkinson  2/9, 8/10, 6/9 (40m)
Vicky Botwright bt Annelize Naude 10/8,9/0, 9/10, 9/5 (77m)
Jenny Duncalf bt Margriet Huisman  9/0, 9/2, 9/2 (28m)

HEART BREAKING DAY…

Hard day for my little heart today, you know…

First, while my French women were battling hard against Germany for fifth place, I was watching the final between England and Netherlands… Well, you’ve got to have your priorities right… And I couldn’t justify dropping the top two teams, just because my home country was playing…

Then, I had to skip the match between James and Laurent, as I had to send the quotes to Steve of the six ladies…

And then, I saw Nick Matthew playing a superb and analytic destruction of Renan’s spirit, that gave England a 99% chance to win, yet again…

And then I saw Lee playing once again so superbly against French Number One Thierry Lincou, and signing at the bottom of the Score Sheet the definitive defeat of my country men…

I’m not even sad… Why? Well first, England was just far too good, far too strong, far too much in control. Two, the French gave everything they had, and beyond. Three, I have not only a great admiration of each and every one of the England Team, but also… I just love them.

I do.

And I’m not going to apologise for it.

Framboise



Amsterdam LIVE
En Bref and much more ...


28 in a row for England

"It’s a great feeling to win again, Vicky played very well, there was a lot of pressure on England to win again, and a lot of pressure on Vicky. And she handled it very well.

"After losing the third, she didn’t get nervous, she didn’t lose her head, she kept concentrated, and came back to win it.

"Of course, I’m a bit disappointed that I didn’t do my bit today, but I did my best…"

Linda Elriani, England Captain

Jenny Duncalf bt Margriet Huisman
9/0, 9/2, 9/2 (28m)

GOOD SPIRIT FOR MARGRIET…

You couldn’t help feeling tense for that young lady, playing in her first big final, in front of her home crowd. Margriet Huisman started her match against Jenny Duncalf very very nervous indeed…

Jenny on the contrary shot out of the starting blocks, played her game of hard hitting crosscourts and sharp backhand boasts to perfection… The Dutch had a good start to the second game, and got in front of the English a few times, placing some nice kills.

But her luck was short lived, and although she fought to the end, running like a lunatic, picking up lost causes, she couldn’t prevent her opponent from finishing it off…

But I know she had a great time, and she showed some excellent attitude on court, and great disposition… I’m sure we’ll hear from her again soon…

"I felt quite confident. It’s so different from playing a WISPA event though, there’s so much pressure…

"But I was OK really, this morning, I didn’t feel too much pressure, and I got a good start, 9/0. After that, I was able to play my game and just enjoyed it…"

Jenny Duncalf

 

"Jenny plays at such a pace! And she volleys so much, I was under pressure the whole time… She plays great boasts as well, she holds her shots so well, you think she’s going to play length, and suddenly, you find yourself running after a short ball… You never know where to stand, and what’s she is going to do…

"It’s my first European final, I’m so happy to play against a top 10 player, I really enjoyed it. It’s a fantastic feeling to play for your country. I was in the National Team for a few years, but I was playing fourth, so I was only playing a few matches, but now, at three, I’m playing much more.

"It’s a special feeling to play in the semis and the final for your country in your country…"

Margriet Huisman

Linda Elriani lost to Vanessa Atkinson
2/9, 8/10, 6/9 (40m)

VANESSA : GOOD PERFORMANCE…

Vanessa Atkinson was expected to win today… The same way she was expected to win last week in Qatar…

Never easy to be the favourite, you know… All the weight on your shoulder… The fear of winning is so much greater than the fear of losing…

But no, today, Vanessa didn’t choke… She was in control most of the match, apart from a little “switching off” at the start of the second that allowed Linda Elriani to take a “comfortable” lead 5/0, then 6/1, a lead that the English couldn’t unfortunately hold on to, allowing the Dutch to stick back at 7/7, then 8/8. A drop shot and an out of court later, Vanessa was 2/0 up …

Again in the third, Vanessa seemed to drift away once in a while, and the game was very close score wise, 4/4, 6/6…. But the rallies became shorter and shorter, and Vanessa imposed her pace and shots to a still fighting Linda, who could only accept defeat in three, 9/6 in the third…

"I was really nervous to start with, I knew there were a lot of people counting on me…

"Linda puts the ball up so well, so I had to make sure I was taking the ball early, and volleying as much as I could. In the second game, I went too short, and got a bit tired, it’s hard to volley constantly…

"When I was down, I kept on saying to myself “be patient, and keep volleying”. I was hoping that, the more I would keep the rallies going, the more she would eventually make errors. And it worked…"

Vanessa Atkinson

"I didn’t feel, like, superfresh after yesterday’s match, but I was all right. I find it much harder to play number one, as you get to play all the other numbers ones who are usually top players, even if the rest of the team isn’t that strong…

"Vanessa played very well, even if there were moments where we were both up and down. She was more consistent than I was, her length was better as well.

"She is so nice to play, it’s clean squash, and a fair play… Always a pleasure…"

Linda Elriani

Vicky Botwright bt Annelize Naude
10/8, 9/0, 9/10, 9/5 (77m)

BOTWRIGHT O SO STRONG…

This time, the pressure was on string number two Vicky Botwright, who was playing ex South African Funny Hair Colour Lovely Lady Annelize Naude

During the whole match, the pace was extremely high, and I don’t think I ever saw Annelize playing so fast for so long. She played extremely well, and although the two girls seemed to get in each other’s way more than once, their game was quite complementary, and it was a very good match indeed…

First game, very close indeed, 2/2, 3/3, 4/4, 5/5, 6/6, 8/8, and Vicky needed three game balls to finally seize the game in 25 minutes. The second, Annelize just didn’t exist, allowing a cruel score, 9/0.

The third was magnificent! Suspense, drama, four match balls… and none transformed! Against all odds, the Netherlands girl came back from 4/8, and battled and battled again, finding her width at last, cutting off Vicky’s shots beautifully, in particular on the forehand…

And the Netherlands crowd, up to that moment, rather quiet, started to believe that maybe, today was the day… Could she..? And their support raised even more when their girl was up 5/1 in the fourth. Was she going to be able to impose a fifth?

But it was not knowing the Lancashire Botwright… She just dug in there, didn’t lose her head, didn’t lose her focus, got back in front, put more weight on her shots… and just clawed back, breaking Annelize's spirit, who strung error after error... And this time, Vicky only needed one match ball…

England was a very deserving champion, once again…
  

"It was such a release to win, I thought I was about to cry!

"It’s the most pressure I’ve ever been under, playing the decider for the Europeans…

"All week, I felt quite nervous, but today, I woke up, and I felt ok, I felt calmer…

"At the end of the third, beginning of the fourth, I suddenly shortened my game, and played her game, in particular, I was playing too many cross courts, and she was volleying extremely well, playing winners so many times…. So I just decided to hit through the ball a bit more…. And it worked…

"And I have to admit, when I didn’t get a good start in the fourth, I started to be really worried…"

Vicky Botwright

  

"I was under pressure all week, but today, I knew that I just had to relax, and enjoy the fact that I was playing in Amsterdam…

"Vicky is pretty consistent, and mentally very strong. She had more pressure than me, and I think she handled it very well…

"I’m extremely disappointed…"

Annelize Naude

MEN'S FINAL: England 4-0 France
 
Lee Beachill
bt Thierry Lincou          9/4, 7/9, 9/4 (56m)
Peter Nicol bt Gregory Gaultier        9/4, 4/9, 10/8 (37m)
Nick Matthew bt Renan Lavigne        9/4, 9/3, 9/0  (48m)
James Willstrop bt Laurent Elriani    9/3, 9/2, 9/5 (51m)


This was the sixth succesive final between England and France, and with
the order of play of 4-3-1-2 England knew they had a chance to take an early lead, just as they did in the 2004 final in Rennes. James Willstrop duly obliged ...

James Willstrop bt Laurent Elriani
 9/3, 9/2, 9/5 (51m)

"Laurent had a good lead in the third, and in the back of my mind, I couldn’t help thinking that it would be better for the team if I was to win in three, so I really didn’t want to lose that game, strangely enough…

"It was a good game out there… Laurent battled hard, and I had to work very hard to win the match…"

James Willstrop

"During the two first games, I wasn’t tight enough, I wasn’t precise enough, and as the court was very warm and very bouncy, I couldn’t find my length either… And in the third, I started to find my game at last. But at the end, I wasn’t patient enough, and I couldn’t finish it off…

"He played so well. He’s got an amazing reach, and to score points against him, you’ve got to be so precise. And as he is also so precise….

"I did my best, in view of the circumstances…"

Laurent Elriani




Nick Matthew bt Renan Lavigne
9/4, 9/3, 9/0  (48m)

MATTHEW IMPERIAL…

So, it was not an easy three setter for Nick Matthew today against Renan Lavigne… 48 minutes with a game of 9/0, you see immediately that the battle was rude, and the rallies long…

Nick was just in constant control of the T. He never left the front of the court, imposed his pace, his game, his shots. Yes, he ran a lot of course, but his variation of shots, from backhand boast flirting superbly with the tin to hard and low hitting, not to mention his remarkable volleying, forced the Frenchman to cover tremendous ground…

Renan retrieved beautifully well, and his patience started to pay off in the middle of the second, as Nick made a few errors, and found himself in the back of the court for a while… the roles were reversed… After 8 minutes, we were still at 1/1.

Then those two offered us the rally of the tournament, about two minutes of perfect squash, won by Renan, followed quite quickly by another rally about the same length, this time won by the Yorkshireman…

What happened in Renan’s brain at 3/1, not sure, but that was basically the end of it all. He never score another point in the match…The last game was simple and short: 7 minutes. Hard…

And those two perfect victories of James and Nick set up the perfect game for Lee…
 

"I’ve got the feeling that I missed the last part of the match. In the beginning, I played well, but then I lost my rhythm…

"I wasn’t able to keep the same strategy for long enough. I was attempting something, it wasn’t working quick enough, so I tried something else… And I could see the points running away from me…

"I wasn’t strong enough mentally to force him into my game. Well, I was sometimes, I pushed him to play some errors, but not often enough…

"The beginning of the second game was crucial, we had a very long rally, that I won, then another one, nearly as long, that I lost. And that was the turning point. I wasn’t mentally strong enough to step another gear…

"But at the end of the day, they’ve got four players in the top ten, they got a very strong structure, a lot of money, and we don’t…

Renan Lavigne


"I know Renan’s game quite well, because he came and trained with me last summer, and I know that you always have to make a great start against him, be patient, and delay the shots. If you are not focused in the beginning, he can get very confident and become very dangerous indeed.

"Peter had a 'go' at us, James and myself, saying 'you lost 16 points between you two, it’s unacceptable!'. No, I really don’t think that both of us could have done any better.

"My back is really holding very well now, I’m teaching my body to hold differently, it’s a whole new process, a new way of life… After the ToC, I was really lost, I didn’t know what I was going to do, and if I was going to be able to go on playing."

Nick Matthew

Lee Beachill bt Thierry Lincou
9/4, 7/9, 9/4 (56m)

LINCOU: MISSION IMPOSSIBLE…

Or “Déjà vu”…

Like I said to Andy Bunting sitting next to me, I had the impression of being 12 months back, in Rennes, for the last final of the European Tams … And although today, Thierry Lincou was not playing Peter Nicol but Lee Beachill, the feeling of “mission impossible” was as tangible as it was last year..

The Frenchman never had a chance really… Well, I'll let you in on a little secret… that everybody on the circuit knows anyway… Thierry is a slow starter, he is… It’s quite usual for him to lose the first game, and he probably won more five setters that he wishes to remember…

So, imagine the scene. He knows he’s got to win. No, worse than that. He knows he cannot lose. Anything. A bit like if I say to you, “don’t look”…

No, Thierry made as usual a wobbly start, worsened by a perfect Lee Beachill, on a court that suited him to perfection. He never gave Thierry a chance, his length as perfect as usual, pushing his opponent way to the back, and even having the audacity and the confidence to go for nick kills…

The game lasted 27 minutes, but the Englishman was able to impose his game nearly from start to finish…

Another “humiliating” final for the French. Just 21 points in two matches and one game until it was all over. Oups… Like Thierry said afterwards, David against Goliath...

Oh well, maybe next year...



"I wanted to play at 120% and give it all. But getting on court knowing that you can’t lose a single game puts such pressure on you it’s unreal… So, I tried to attack, took risks, whereas Lee was patient, and knew that he could give it all in one single game…

"Apart from that, we are delighted with our week, we arrived in the final in a beautiful fashion, fit physically, and without losing a match…

"Now, we can’t compete with England, nobody in Europe can really! We don’t have the money, our federation is not only young but very small, it’s a bit David against Goliath really!

"So, I’m happy that I can compete and make a difference at an individual level, it’s a great personal satisfaction… And I’ve got the motivation that will allow me to improve further I hope…

Thierry Lincou
 

"I like the court very much. It’s a court on which it pays if you’re accurate. James and Nick proved earlier that, if you play with accuracy, you really impose a great result.

"On that court it’s very difficult to try and attack and move your opponent around. So I was very patient, and Thierry made a few errors…

"I’m not going to apologise because we’ve got four players in the top ten. It’s been a great year for all of us, we’ve got a great system, a system that works, and the way we do things is obviously the right way.

"But the flipside of it is that we’ve got to perform, and that we all have a lot of pressure every time we arrive at a tournament, because if France were to beat us for example, it would be a fantastic result.

"Take Renan. He is a great player, and Nick had to come and beat him 3/0. The pressure was on Nick, not on Renan you know… And the same for me. I had a fantastic season, I saw the back end of the tournament nearly all the time, I worked very hard, it’s the end of the season, and I still had to play at my best today, we all had to…

"I think our strength comes from the fact we have a great team spirit. We are all there for each other; we don’t want to let each other down… We don’t play just for ourselves… We play for each other…"

Lee Beachill


 

Peter Nicol bt
Gregory Gaultier
9/4, 4/9, 10/8 (37m)

THE FINALS IN AMSTERDAM ...                       SEMI-FINALS