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Squash on TV


20 Questions

This interview, realised during the Chicago Tournament by our reporter Kim Tunney, couldnít be better timed.

David Palmer has definitely closed the door on 2005, and commences 2006 with a big splash: a title in Chicago, his first since March 2005 in Kuwait, a baby on the way, and now the world number one ranking.

It took him four years to get up there again, but the man is back, the man is happy, calmÖ In other words, tremble world, The Marine is back in Success TownÖ
31st Jan, at Duffield:
"If I'm number one in February that will be great. I've got a few points to go on and not many coming off since I got married and had my honeymoon last January. If I'd won more than one of the five finals I played at the end of last year I'd be number one already, so it would be nice if it was to happen now."

1st Feb, in Belgium, after the news:
"All the hard work and training from last year has paid off. And to go no. 1 again is a great reward to myself, and all the people who have been involved in getting me there - Shaun, Mel, my physios Pat and Tom and my family back in Australia.

"I will now have to train harder to stay there."

NEW David Palmer DVD

PSA Rankings, Feb 2006

To start with, howís your ankle, as I can see you have it strapped?

Ankleís not too bad. I hurt it playing Darwish in Saudi when I lost. And then, I thought it was O.K. and hurt it a little bit in Melbourne before I came here. The ankle brace is just there for reassurance. I havenít had a chance to see my physio in Belgium so Iíll see him next week when Iím in Belgium. There are a lot of big tournaments coming up and I didnít want to risk really damaging it. So thatís why I threw the ankle brace on.

Looking back, were you happy with your results in 2005?

I had a good finish last year, runner up in Qatar, runner up at the World Open, US Open: Disappointing with Saudi. I had a chance, if Iíd won the tournament I would have gone to World #1 so I put a little too much pressure on that which is why I lost early.

What did you do over the long six week break?

I didnít think about squash. I really relaxed over Christmas with my family in Australia, had a great time. I didnít do too much. Played the Australian Open down in Melbourne, lost to Anthony [Ricketts] in the final, so that was good practice for here. I just sort of came here Chicago with no pressure.


Earlier during the Chicago tournament, you told me that you thought Thierry Lincou might win as the pressure was on him. Given your draw, were you throwing out a decoy to the media?

All week the talkís been on Ricketts, Jonathon and Shabana so it was nice that no one considered that I might make it through and pick me to win. So it was nice not to be in the limelight, as maybe in the past I have. I had a good draw, thereís no question about that. My early rounds were good and I obviously played well against Jon. So I was glad to wrap it up here.

Whatís your head-to-head record against Power?

I really donít know. Over the past four or five years, itís probably been 50-50. He beat me obviously early in my career when I was coming up at least the first four or five times that I played him. But since then, I feel I might be a little ahead, I reckon.

At the end of the day, we both enjoy playing each other, and we both sit back when itís done and dusted and think that was enjoyable.

How did you keep your composure in the final?

Throughout my career, Iíve been a little up and down handling situations like that and itís obviously hard to not get involved with the referee and not get angry. In the past, itís cost me a lot of matches and a lot of tournaments. I do a lot of mental work with Joe Shaw. Iíve learned a lot from him and Shaun Moxham.

I knew Jonathon was going to stir me up. Heís done that in the past; thatís his game. And if I were to talk back to him or get angry that would just encourage him more. And it would make it harder for me to win. I was really happy that I kept calm and kept my mouth quiet. I disagreed with a lot of decisions tonight but I put it behind me and whatever anyone wants to say about the reason why I won that much, I think that (staying composed) was the main reason why I won tonight.

Do you think that your ability to stay composed now will help you get back to World # 1?

Yeah, thatís the game plan. I play my best squash when Iím relaxed and calm and not focusing on the referee; just focusing on my opponent. When I do that and put my mind to it then I feel that Iím hard to beat; when Iím feeling physically in good shape and my mindís set, and then Iím one of eight guys who can win tournaments.

Where are you in your career right now?

Iím 29 and I feel that Iím about half way through my career. Iíve been on the tour for ten years. Iíve been at the top for about five years now and found a lot of titles and feel that with my body and mind I could keep playing for another three or four years, maybe.

After three or four years, were do you want to be?

Iím not trying to think too far ahead. I just try to take short periods at a time. I take a look at the tournaments for the year and try and peak for titles like the British Open, World Open and this year we have the Commonwealth Games in March in Melbourne. Thatís pretty important since itís in Australia.

As long as I still get a kick out of the competition, like tonightís match, and the training and the hard work, Iíll keep playing. And when the day comes when I donít enjoy it, then Iíll do something else with my life.

Are you looking forward to fatherhood?

Definitely, yes! I think this is why I did well this week.

Do you have any of your names picked out for baby?
Do you know if itís a boy or a girl?

No, we donít have any names picked out and we donít know if itís a boy or a girl. Last week we had an ultrasound and my wife Mel wasnít too keen on knowing so we decided to opt for a surprise. Weíre tossing around a few names. We have a few more boysí names but weíre a bit short on girlsí names. So Iím going to have to look at a few books I think.

Where do you head from here?

Yeah, back to Belgium. I decided not to play Canary Wharf as I want to train for a few weeks with Shaun. I havenít seen him for a few weeks. And go over some basic stuff. And then built it back up (peak) for New York and the TOC and thereís not much break there between that and the Commonwealth Games. And Iíll hopefully use New York as a tune up for the Commonwealth Games

What do you think your chances are in New York?

Iíve never won in New York. Itís a bit of a Ďbogeyí tournament for me. I made the semis last year but Iíve never made the final.

So what are you going to do differently this time to prepare?

Iím going to keep working on my maintaining my composure. And Iím not going to change anything. Iím going to work harder now and not sit back. Train hard these next three weeks. Like everyone else, when I lose early in a tournament, try to train hard to get that edge again. So the worst thing I can do is sit back now. Because Iíve got eight guys on my butt who will be trying to knock me out.

Iím not going to sit back. Iím going to go home then really train hard for three weeks. And try to do everything a little bit better again. Squash is a game that you never play perfect. So thereís still room for improvement.

Who do you think was the better player:
Jahangir or Jansher khan?

I didnít play either of them. And didnít ever see either of them play. Going off statistics Jahangir for sure. The most impressive thing about him is going unbeaten for five years, knowing what it is to just win five matches in a row. Probably no one could beat Jahangirís record.

Do you think the game has changed since then?

Back then the game was more attrition. Different game, lower tin, different court, lower scoring, the racquets are better: So we play a different kind of game. Theyíd grind it out for hours and hours. We hit the ball harder; weíre attacking a lot more. They were probably fitter then we are. But no one back then played a rally like Willstrop, Power and myself have. Thereís no way to say, they couldnít play like that. Itís just to say thatís the way it was. Itís like asking if McEnroe would beat Federer. Who knows?

In speaking with other Australian players, it seems there is a perceived disadvantage to flying over to the States to play in an event due to the long flight and jet lag issues. What do you think?

I never get home very often. Itís the disadvantage that all the Australian boys have as weíre always away. The English guys get to go home every week. Weíre on the road. O.K, I have a base in Belgium, but I only see my family one month out of the year. So when I do go home I relax and feel good.

Which Australian squash great to you admire the most?

Itís hard to say. I never saw Geoff Hunt play at his best. I saw Brett Martin play and Rodney Eyles play; didnít see much of Rodney because he was off the tour when I came on. Iíve just seen them on videos like the majority of people.

In another sport, is their an Australian sport hero that you admire?

In golf, I like Greg Norman. I follow his career very closely and try and copy a lot of things he does. There have been a few tennis players like Pat Rafter that I really think do Australia proud.

Whatís your favorite place in Australia?

Itís a place called Pelican Waters, Queensland and itís where I want to buy my dream home.  And where I want to live if I could ever afford it. I need to win more and more of these tournaments to do that! Thatís why I keep playing. Thatís my dream; just a small little place on the beach. Itíd be a dream to live there one day.

Thanks David ...



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