Palmer Overcomes Illness To Survive First Round In New York
26 Feb 2006
Despite struggling with a sinus infection that nearly kept him from playing, top-seeded Australian David Palmer eliminated qualifier Simon Parke in straight games in the first round of the Bear Stearns Tournament of Champions at Grand Central Terminal in New York.
"I almost pulled out this afternoon, but then I decided to give it a go," said Palmer after his 11-4 11-7 11-8 win in 31 minutes over the 32-year-old Englishman who was celebrating his 11th successive appearance in the event since 1994. "I'd really like to win this championship," added Palmer, who regained the world No1 ranking after a four-year gap this month.
Confidence was the name of the game on the opening day of men's action in the established PSA Tour event in New York - not surprising, given that four of the evening's competitors have been ranked No1 in the world at some point in their careers.
Last year's top ranking player, Thierry Lincou, sent England's Peter Barker packing. "I had a bit of a slump at the end of the year, but now I am playing for myself again and enjoying squash," said the sixth-seeded Frenchman, a two-time finalist, who played confident and focused squash under the majestic chandeliers of Grand Central Terminal - beating his left-handed English opponent 11-4, 11-4, 11-2 in 33 minutes.
Displaying a similar confidence was current world champion Amr Shabana, who dismissed fellow Egyptian Wael El Hindi 11-4, 11-8, 11-3 with relative ease. Another former world No1, Scotland's John White, moved into the next round of play with a four game victory over France's Renan Lavigne.
The tournament's opening match, an 80-minute marathon that pitted tour veteran Olli Tuominen against the rising Dutch star Laurens Jans Anjema, delighted the appreciative crowd comprised significantly of 400 avid junior and adult squash players playing in a companion city-wide tournament weekend tournament. Finland's finest demonstrated what Anjema's coach Neil Harvey described as a classic Finnish playing style. "He is a very determined retriever, and he wears his opponents down," said Harvey as he watched his protégé fall 11-5, 9-11, 11-4, 9-11, 11-5 in the longest match of the day.
A measure of revenge is what motivated Canadian Graham Ryding's convincing win over qualifier Borja Golan. "I was quite happy when I saw the draw," said Ryding, appreciating the opportunity to avenge a recent first loss to the young Spaniard. Egypt's Karim Darwish closed out the day's play with a self-described renewed confidence contributing to his straight games victory over Canada's Shahier Razik.
 David Palmer (AUS) bt [Q] Simon Parke (ENG) 11-4, 11-7, 11-8 (31m)
 Karim Darwish (EGY) bt Shahier Razik (CAN) 11-7, 11-6, 11-8
 Lee Beachill (ENG) bt Joseph Kneipp (AUS) 11-6, 8-11, 11-4, 11-4 (39m)
 Graham Ryding (CAN) bt [Q] Borja Golan (ESP) 11-9, 11-8, 4-11, 11-5 (58m)
 Amr Shabana (EGY) bt Wael El Hindi (EGY) 11-4, 11-8, 11-3 (31m)
 Olli Tuominen (FIN) bt Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) 11-5, 9-11, 11-4, 9-11, 11-5 (80m)
 Thierry Lincou (FRA) bt Peter Barker (ENG) 11-4, 11-4, 11-2 (33m)
 John White (SCO) bt Renan Lavigne (FRA) 11-8, 9-11, 11-6, 11-9 (54m)