TODAY at Canary Wharf      

Fri 17th Feb 2006:


[2] Thierry Lincou (Fra) bt [1] Anthony Ricketts (Aus)
      11/9, 6/11, 11/7, 7/11, 11/3 (88m)




[2] Thierry Lincou (Fra) bt [1] Anthony Ricketts (Aus)
      11/9, 6/11, 11/7, 7/11, 11/3 (88m)

Alan Thatcher reports

French ace Thierry Lincou powered his way past exhausted Australian top seed Anthony Ricketts to win the ISS Canary Wharf Squash Classic.

Lincou won 11-9, 6-11, 11-7, 7-11, 11-3 in 88 minutes of high-octane squash.

The match was evenly poised until Ricketts wilted in the fifth game at the conclusion of his fourth consecutive marathon match.

Going into the match, Ricketts had been on court for 258 minutes of play compared to 112 by No.2 seed Lincou.

However, the Reading-based Australian was still happy to prolong the rallies in a 28-minute opening game which Lincou pinched 11-9.

Ricketts hit back strongly to take the second but the pattern continued as Lincou won the third and the robust Ricketts responded yet again, drawing on his phenomenal reserves of energy to take the match to a fifth game.

The full house crowd at the spectacular East Wintergarden venue willed him to make one final effort but Lincou played tight, stylish and inventive squash to dominate the game.

At 6-1 down Ricketts mounted a mini recovery but Lincou was too solid to let it continue and he swiftly regained control to clinch victory.

A delighted Lincou hugged Ricketts, punched the air with joy and walked slowly around the court to savour the moment of victory.

Next week Ricketts flies to New York to defend his Tournament of Champions title on the glass court at Grand Central Station and then heads home to Australia aiming for a gold medal in the Commonwealth Games.

"Today, I was a bit nervous because I knew there was going to be a big crowd, and I didnít want to lose in 15 minutes. But we ended up having a great match, and thatís whatís important.

"Thierry's touch on this court is just incredible, he catches the nick all the time, and there is nothing I could do about thatÖ

"I donít think that the physical aspect was determinant at all. I was still bouncy, I still wanted to chase every ball. Thierry was just too good. He was patient, his short game was very soft, he took all his time. I think I wanted to do a bit too much, and I forced the issue too much.

"Iíve been working so hard on my short game, and I feel that this week, it let me down, in particular against Parkie in the first round, and thatís why I was so frustrated, because that is an area of my game I'm really focusing onÖ.

"There was part of the game when everything floated, where I was moving well, but then again, Thierry made me work so hard for every point, I found myself getting excited when I got to 3/3! Normally, you can feel when you are physically and mentally on top of your opponent, but today, I never felt that comfortable."

"I did the job.

"I was ready for this victory for a long time. I havenít won a title since Pakistan, and I wanted a win.

"To play like I did in the first takes a lot out of you. So then you try and save as much energy as you can, and you start playing short. Itís more or less at an unconscious level, and it works by cycle, youíre out, and then you come back into itÖ

"It was hard to stay focused on the court, because the ball was getting cold so I was trying to play the ball shorter.

"In the fifth, I knew that if I started well, I would relax and play some good shots. In the third rally, he tried to pick up the pace, but he didnít win that rally, and maybe it discouraged him a bit.

"Anthony is so quick, he doesnít give you any time to get organised. Youíve got to make sure that you are making your own space, your own time. Youíve got to stick with him at all timesÖ He improved his short game a lot, and played a few great winners, but made a few errors. If he hadnít, it could have made all the differenceÖ

"Anthony played 20 games of squash this week, and still today, it went to 5, so congratulations to him. It was nice to play tonight in front of a good and passionate crowd. Thanks to the sponsors, to the organisers, Tim, Peter, Angus and Alan, but especially to the Refs, they do a hard job, and we appreciate it a lot. Thanks to them.

"At the end of the year, I had a big mental let down, there was so many tournaments one after the other, with the ranking pressure, being away from my family. And as I couldnít really relax and have a break over Christmas, because of Chicago, it really backlashed, and the drop in the ranking in January didnít help. My mental went right down.

"This weekend was crucial for me, my defeat against Greg, where he played so well, and I made so many errors, far too complicated squash.

"I would like to dedicate this victory to my partner, Cťline, who is day in day out supporting me, and Iím fully aware that living with a squash player is sometimes very difficult, especially with a baby.

"And also a little wink to my new sponsor ASICS, who saw me lose in the final of the French Nationals. Hopefully, this victory symbolise both a renaissance of my career, and a new start for our new collaborationÖ.