Thu 25 Sep,
 Nick Matthew (Eng) bt 
Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned)
11/7, 11/2, 11/5 (42m)
 James Willstrop (Eng) bt
Joey Barrington (Eng)
13/11, 11/8, 11/6 (47m)
 Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt
 Renan Lavigne (Fra)
11/5, 11/4, 11/7 (33m)
 Borja Golan (Esp) bt 
Thierry Lincou (Fra)
11/8, 6/11, 11/9, 4/11, 11/9 (84m)
rewrites the script
According to the seedings, the form guide, and the script, it
was supposed to be two Anglo-French semi-finals at the Stade
Charlety in Paris.
While the first three matches went according to that plan,
Nick Matthew, James Willstrop and Gregory Gaultier
all executing straight-game victories, Borja Golan had
other ideas. The sixth seeded Spaniard overcame second seed
Thierry Lincou in a see-saw encounter to leave the large,
passionate crowd stunned.
It was a nailbiter to the end - at 7/4 in the fifth Borja looked
the likely winner, but five points in a row put Thierry back on
track. Then it turned again and as the Frenchman hit the ball
back at himself on match-ball down, Borja had the best win of
his career and the seedings, the form-guide, the script - and
Borja's waiting flight to join Paderborn for the European Club
Championships in Austria - were all ripped up ...
Watch the last rallies
POUR LE PATRON…
les trois premiers quarts de finale se sont déroulés « comme
prévu », Nick l’emportant sur un LJ en peu en dessous et
qui n’a jamais vraiment mis l’Anglais en danger, James,
bien plus mentalement présent, qui s’est débarrassé rapidement
d’un Joey pourtant très en jambes, et un Kid à l’attitude
parfaite ne laissant aucune chance à Renan, même si nos deux
français ont produit un superbe troisième jeu, le quatrième
quart, lui, nous a brisé le cœur.
Jamais je n’aurais pensé que Borja allait battre Thierry. Le
Patron n’avais jamais perdu contre l’Espagnol, et même si on le
sait très dangereux, je pense que nous nous préoccupions tous
beaucoup plus de savoir si James pour la finale était en forme,
que de Borja en quart…
Borja a joué le jeu parfait, il n’a jamais laissé le français
avoir les deux pieds au sol, en croisant les balles, en
volleyant tout ce dont la largeur n’était pas parfaite, en
contre-attaquant toutes les amorties et surtout, surtout, en
saisissant toutes les opportunités d’attaquer qui s’offraient à
Et il a surpris un Français qui n’a jamais réussi à se libérer,
un Thierry qui voulait tellement bien faire, et qui n’avait pas
de jambes, exactement comme en 2004, en finale des Europe à
Rennes, quand il s’est pris « une leçon de squash » par le Boss.
Sous la pression médiatique et du public, il n’avait plus son
explosivité naturelle. Pareil aujourd’hui…
«J’ai l’impression de n’avoir rien montré ce soir, tous ces gens
qui étaient là… » La pression est devenu trop forte pour notre
attention, cela n’enlève rien à la superbe prestation de
l’Espagnol, qui avait le soutien de son compagnon d’entraînement
Miguel Rodriguez, mais aussi du club d’Ornano pour lequel il
joue en France, qui ont encouragé Borja tout au long du match,
et qui étaient sans doute les seuls Français hier à être
Et on y a cru jusqu’au bout… Après la perte du 3ème, quand
Thierry a bien capitalisé sur ses efforts dans le 4ème, avec
Borja en perte de physique, les spectateurs se sont dits, c’est
tout bon. A 7/4 pour l’espagnol dans le 5ème, ils se sont dits,
c’est tout mauvais. A 9/7 pour Thierry, c’était gagné…
Et non… Deux plaques, une en retour de service à 9/9, et la
suivante à la fin d’un long échange, et Borja nous brise notre
rêve d’avoir, comme nous l’avions eu au British 2007, deux
français en finale des Internationaux de France…
a été sharp d’entrée de jeu, il n’a pratiquement rien raté, sauf
un peu au début. Et quand tu vois qu’il ne loupe rien, que même
ses longueurs – alors que c’est ma force – sont parfaites, eh
bien, tu ne sais pas quelle tactique adopter… Je n’ai pas pu le
Comme d’habitude, je n’ai rien lâché, ça a toujours été ma
force, et au troisième, je le contre même devant à gauche, c’est
son point fort, donc c’est très positif…
De nos jours, le niveau est très homogène, et dans les tournois,
il faut rester vigilant à tout moment. Surtout avec ce système
en 11, la moindre défaillance est fatale… Mais même s’il ne m’a
pas forcément avantagé, ce scoring est très bien pour les gens
que tu veux intéresser au squash, il faut mieux ne pas avoir des
matches de plus de deux heures…
Pour finir, dans les derniers tournois que je fais, je me prends
trop souvent le 1 à 6, et très souvent un français ! J’aimerais
bien pouvoir m’essayer à des 6/16, pour une fois….
un très bon match, j’étais beaucoup plus en jambes que hier, je
commence à retrouver mes sensations, j’ai bien bougé. Renan lui
aussi, a joué libéré, sans pression, il a très bien joué,
surtout au dernier, car comme le public en voulait plus, ils
étaient derrière lui, et c’était très bien, j’ai trouvé, ça a
donné une super ambiance. Je pense que les gens étaient très
contents, et que c’est positif, et pour lui, et pour moi.
Je n’ai pas fait trop de fautes, sauf au premier, 4 ou 5, après
je joue un peu plus haut pour moins faire d’erreurs, pour le
faire bien travailler, et prendre l’ascendant dans le second.
Dans l’ensemble, c’était pas mal j’ai trouvé !
Demain, Nick, il a l’air en forme, moi, je suis en train de
monter en puissance. J’essaie de retrouver les sensations que
j’avais quand j’étais au top, pour être non seulement aussi bon
qu’avant, et même meilleur….
C’était un match
piège, il a tout contré, il a été très présent à l’avant, et il
m’a empêché de me libérer et de me détacher au score. J’ai joué
sur la retenue tout le match, et sans trouver vraiment de
solution tactique. De plus, il m’a manqué un peu de tonus
musculaire, j’étais un peu plat, j’avais l’impression de ne rien
avoir dans les jambes.
J’étais trop tendu, les attentes étaient trop importantes, avec
l’envie de trop bien faire. On ajoute à ça le manque de
compétitivité, qui a engendré une fluctuation de la
concentration tout au long du match, due sans doute à un manque
C’est dommage, parce que hier, je me sentais vraiment bien, et
même aujourd’hui avant le match, et j’avais vraiment envie
d’aller jusqu’au bout. Et cette envie de faire plaisir aux gens,
de répondre à leurs attente.. J’ai l’impression de n’avoir rien
montré ce soir.
Borja était en réussite totale, il a réussi un super match, il
avait sans doute plus faim que moi. Moi, j’étais dans la gestion,
et lui, dans la gagne.
Nick Matthew (Eng) bt  Laurens
Jan Anjema (Ned)
11/7, 11/2, 11/5 (42m)
ACCURACY IS THE THEME…
Like Nick, I was expecting a very tough match, as I consider LJ
as one of the most determined fighters on the circuit. But
today, after taking a good start, extremely accurate indeed on
both backhand and forehand straight drives, preventing Nick to
find his width, LJ seemed to lose his way a bit mentally in the
Maybe it was just a drop of energy, I’m not sure, that gave the
English boy just the confidence he needed. From that moment on,
Nick was doing pretty much anything he wanted with his volley
drop shot at the front, scotching LJ so far at the back that the
Dutch, with all the will and great legs we know he possesses,
just couldn’t reach in time.
If squash fans around the world are worried about Nick, don’t
be. He is as precise as ever, and if anything, hungrier than
he’s ever been. And that’s a sure key to open success doors…
general, my width and length have been pretty good, although
it’s tough to say, as it’s only my second tournament!!!! But I
really felt that my shots were more penetrating than in the
first round, I guess that I was more used to the courts, and
also, Davide doesn’t let you getting in any kind of rhythm
"Today, even when I was 4/1 in the first, I said to myself,
don’t panic, it’s not like you are doing something wrong
tactically. So I just kept on doing what I was doing, and I
found my rhythm in the middle of the first.
"LJ will be disappointed with the way he played today, he kept
on playing into my racquet, and played far too many loose cross
courts. He started well, but seem to loose his way, and never
got back in. He was finding it hard to get in and out of the
corners, because maybe his width and length, normally his
strength, were not as precise as usual.
"I’m pleased with that result, I was expecting a tough battle,
as LJ has been playing very well recently. So I have plenty in
the tank to play probably Greg tomorrow. And I can’t wait,
because I haven’t played at that level for a while now, you
learn so much from playing the top guys, and win or lose, this
will be a great test for me, and a step in the right direction."
think I should have played at a higher pace. James’ control is
on the best on the circuit, it’s so difficult to play him when
he plays that tight. He is a very experienced campaigner…
"I feel a bit frustrated, I really wanted to get a result today,
but it’s so pleasant to play James, it’s always a quality and a
"Still, I lost 3/0, and I’m disappointed…"
James Willstrop (Eng) bt Joey
13/11, 11/8, 11/6 (47m)
The British National Champion was more or less all there today,
mentally anyway, which was a great improvement from the previous
day’s performance. We saw him stretch his ankle a bit before the
match, but if he was a bit careful on it at the start of the
match, he really ran like a rabbit at the end, and seemed to
move perfectly fine.
Joey played a good game, and in particular found some superb
attacking shots and good tactics, twisting and turning James in
particular in the first two games, but just couldn’t close them.
Weirdly enough, the second was as tight as possible, never more
than a point between those two, until 8/8, where Joey played a
first loose shot, James killed it, 9/8. Another short rally,
another loose shot from Joey, James finds a perfect length at
the back. 10/8, game ball, a tin, game and somehow, match over,
like that, in a matter of seconds, after so much hard work and
I thought that Joey raised his game during this match, but
still, it’s a 3/0 victory for James, so he will be disappointed
of course, even if he fought till the end, saving three match
balls from 10/3 to 10/6…
James started the third strongly though, and even though Joey
pulled a few point back, 10/3 is generally a winning lead, and
so it proved.
"It was always
going to be a level game, and I knew I had to do something
better today than I did yesterday, because I was all over the
"It’s starting to be difficult to operate with no clothes, only
two T-shirts and a pair of shorts that I bought yesterday. So,
the glamorous life of a squash player consists of washing my kit
at night, instead of living the Paris night life…
"Today, I had to be more focussed, and it showed. I could have
never won that like that if I hadn't been focussed. Joey was
very consistent in his play, despite the fact that my backhand
was very tight, he was fluid, moving well, didn’t do much wrong
actually. I guess we had to get to grips with each other… He
played at a solid level, a solid pace, and with a good accuracy.
And I think it’s only my backhand accuracy today that won me the
Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt 
Renan Lavigne (Fra)
11/4, 11/7 (33m)
GREG IN CONTROL
In the Franco-French battle, the World number two was of course
the favourite to win, as he has never lost yet to his Team
Captain Renan Lavigne. And although the Marseilles resident
tried his utmost best, no solutions could be found to
destabilise Greg’s rhythm.
Still those two gave the large French crowd an excellent show,
in particular in the third game. “This is I think the best game
of squash I’ve seen so far,” told me François Peisson, for the
famous l’Equipe Sports paper. And it was a very good performance
from Renan indeed, with a Greg always right in the match, not
drifting away as he can sometimes do.
And actually, what stunned me since the beginning of this
tournament, is the French number one's attitude on court. We all
know that he can sometimes have a touch of arrogance in his
behaviour, that has become a sort of style of his, somehow, and
which probably cost him a few defeats in the past.
But since his defeat in Cairo, it’s like the penny dropped. It’s
like Greg suddenly realised a few things, and I must say, I was
utterly please by his concentration in his match, but most of
all, by the respect he is giving to his opponent, and somehow in
a strange way, to himself.
I hope that this change is here to stay. From the bottom of my
"Greg was very
sharp from the word go, and hardly missed a shot, apart from the
first game. And when you see him not missing anything, in
particular in the length department, that’s supposed to be MY
thing, well, you just don’t know what tactic to apply…
"As ever, even in the end, I didn’t let go of anything, that was
always my strength, and in the third I was able to counter
attack in the front left corner, his strength, so that’s
"Nowadays, the level is so homogeneous, you need to stay
vigilant at all times, especially with the scoring to 11.
Although it maybe didn’t suit me really, I think that it’s
better when you’re trying to interest new people in squash that
matches don’t go over two hours!
"Well, I hope that in my coming tournaments, I’ll get a bit more
of the 6 to 16 ranked players, and not the 1/ 6 like I seem to
get, and especially the French ones…"
"It was a very good match, I was
moving much better, I’m starting to find my marks again… Renan
too played well, relaxed, no pressure, especially in the third,
as the audience was behind him, as they wanted more, and I
thought that gave a great atmosphere. I think the people were
happy, and that’s good for both of us, very positive…
"I didn’t make too many errors, apart from the first game, to
make him work and take the ascendancy in the second.
"Overall, not too bad!!!!
"Nick tomorrow, he looks sharp, I’m on my way back where I used
to be, I’m trying to find the way I used to feel on court when I
was at my top, to get back there, and move even further up…"
"What a tricky game that was. He
counterattacked everything, he was very present at the front of
the court, and he prevented me from liberating myself, and to
get ahead scorewise.
"During the whole match I was holding back, and I wasn’t able to
find a real tactical solution. On top of that, I missed a bit of
reactivity tonus wise, I was a bit flat, like I didn’t have much
in the legs.
"I was far too stressed, the expectations from everybody, and I
so wanted to do well. You add to that a lack of competition,
that led to a fluctuation of focus during the match…
"Shame, because yesterday I was feeling really good, and today
too I thought, and I really wanted to go to the end. And that
desire to please people, to respond to their expectations. I
have the feeling I didn’t show enough tonight.
"Borja didn’t put a foot wrong the whole match. He was hungrier
than me for victory. I was managing the situation, he was
willing to win…"
Borja Golan (Esp) bt  Thierry
6/11, 11/9, 4/11, 11/9 (84m)
Of course nobody expected such a match in the quarters. In
everybody’s mind, the deal was simple. We were going to have a
nice French/English seed 1, 2, 3, 4 battle, with if possible an
Well, I for one never for a second imagined that Borja, who
Thierry had never lost to, who had struggled in five against
Jonathan Kemp yesterday, had a chance against him in front of a
French crowd. I guess that Thierry didn’t either. I suspect that
like most of us, he was probably more tuned into his semi-final
against James than his quarter against Borja. And that is a
mistake that cost him a very disappointing defeat.
How did it happen? Very simple indeed. Borja played the match of
his life, with the perfect tactic against the former World
number one. He never let the Frenchman alone, he constantly took
him out of his comfort zone, twisting and turning him, volleying
every shot whose width was not good enough, crosscourting every
other shot, gluing his straight drives to the wall,
counterattacking every short ball, and seizing every opportunity
that a never relaxed Thierry offered hmm far too often for his
”I had no legs, I just couldn’t move fast enough”, said my
stunned compatriot after the match. “All the expectation, all
those people that want you to do good, it’s….” The world he was$
looking for was “paralysing”…
The French don’t have many opportunity to play big matches at
home, and I remember last time, in 2004, when Thierry played the
Boss in the final of the European Teams. He didn’t have any legs
either… Too much press attention, too much expectation, couldn’t
settle into the match, and tried to force the issue, making the
error, hence frustration mounting.
Deja vu ...
Borja today was absolutely magnificent, people. He didn’t put a
foot wrong, he was determined, and although he had a little drop
of energy in the fourth, he soon came back to his game plan,
always believing that he could win. At 7/4 in the fifth, he
thought he had the match won. At 7/9, we thought Thierry had
found the way home. But at 9/9, a nervous Thierry put his
service return into the tin, and despite a last stunning rally
with all the French crowd hoping for a miracle that the
Frenchman has produced so many times, it was the Spaniard who
was raising his arms in the air, breaking the heart of a whole
nation, and mine on the way, as I’m sure you all know…
”Well played man”, Thierry said to his opponent as the Spaniard
was leaving the arena. That summarised it ... Well played Borja…
now, I feel nothing, this is the best win of my career,
sometimes, things are actually possible…
"This morning, I received three emails from a friend of mine,
who advised me to play Thierry from side to side, and not
forward backward. And it seemed to work for me.
"I really tried to put him under pressure with my volleying,
crosscourting a lot. But most of all, I concentrated on my
length, because with Thierry, if your length is not perfect, he
volleys everything. So first, I was thinking about perfect
length, and then, I tried to attack more than I normally do.
"This is an incredible feeling, it’s like a dream come true. But
also, I know that he lost here, in front of his home crowd, and
that I feel for him, I know what it is to lose when you are at
home, and he must be feeling terrible."