Champion Nicol Crashes To Grant In Hong Kong

2 Sep 04

England's Adrian Grant, the 16th seed, pulled off the best win of his career when he defeated defending champion Peter Nicol, the top seed and world No1, in five games in today's second round of the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Open.

Nicol, who was bidding to win his fourth Hong Kong title in five years, made his shock exit just 24 hours after celebrating his 60th month at the top of the PSA world rankings. Fellow-left-hander Grant, born in South London 23 years ago but now living in Halifax, Yorkshire, is the first black player ever to represent England at senior level - and made his debut alongside Nicol in last May's European Championships in France.

"I have been all over England this summer forcing players to practice the 11-point system with me," said the underdog after his sensational 9-11 11-5 11-10 8-11 11-6 victory in 53 minutes. "It was a real decision to do that and now I am glad I did it. I have been coming up against these top guys in PSA tournaments for a few years now, rarely getting past them. Maybe this is a breakthrough point," Grant suggested.

Nicol refused to blame the new scoring system being launched on the PSA Tour for the first time at the famous Hong Kong event: "It was certainly a bad day at the office, though. I was moving well and striking the ball well but I could not get up on my toes and attack the ball the way I should. I think I have lost a little of the confidence in my game that is usually automatic," said Nicol.

Grant progresses to his first Hong Kong quarter-final where he will meet compatriot and training partner Nick Matthew. The No8 seed from Sheffield in Yorkshire had to fight back from 1/2 down to overcome Frenchman Gregory Gaultier, the tenth seed, 11-7 6-11 8-11 11-3 11-7 in 83 minutes - the longest match of the tournament.

The other quarter-final in the top half of the draw brings together two former Hong Kong Open champions, Jonathon Power of Canada and David Palmer of Australia. Palmer came through a flashing, shot-filled assault from Egypt's Hisham Mohd Ashour 10-11 11-4 11-5 11-9 in 30 minutes, while Power survived the longest tiebreak of the tournament so far to beat Australia's Joseph Kneipp 11-2 11-9 11-10 (8-6) in 55 minutes.

France's third seed Thierry Lincou, a runner-up in 2001, became the only player to reach the last eight without dropping a game when he ended unseeded Paul Price's run in an 11-9 11-7 11-6 scoreline. In a repeat of last year's World Open final, the 28-year-old from Paris will now meet Egypt's Amr Shabana, the winner of the world title in Pakistan who had to clamber back from 0/2 down to conquer England's fast-rising 21-year-old James Willstrop 5-11 4-11 11-9 11-6 11-8 in 49 minutes.

England's Lee Beachill safely pursued his second seeding with a 43-minute 11-9 10-11 11-7 11-6 win over ninth seed Karim Darwish - avenging his first round defeat by the Egyptian three years ago - and will play the other bottom half quarter-final against the fifth-seeded Scot John White, who defeated Malaysia's Ong Beng Hee 11-4 11-5 11-10 in 34 minutes in the last second round match of the session.

2nd round:
[16] Adrian Grant (ENG) bt [1] Peter Nicol (ENG) 9-11, 11-5, 11-10 (2-0), 8-11, 11-6 (53m)
[8] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [10] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 11-7, 6-11, 8-11, 11-3, 11-7 (83m)
[4] David Palmer (AUS) bt [Q] Hisham Mohd Ashour (EGY) 10-11 (0-2), 11-4, 11-5, 11-9 (30m)
[6] Jonathon Power (CAN) bt [11] Joseph Kneipp (AUS) 11-2, 11-9, 11-10 (8-6) (55m)
[7] Amr Shabana (EGY) bt [13] James Willstrop (ENG) 5-11, 4-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-8 (49m)
[3] Thierry Lincou (FRA) bt Paul Price (AUS) 11-9, 11-7, 11-6 (32m)
[5] John White (SCO) bt Ong Beng Hee (MAS) 11-4, 11-5, 11-10 (3-1) (34m)
[2] Lee Beachill (ENG) bt [9] Karim Darwish (EGY) 11-9, 10-11 (0-2), 11-7, 11-6 (43m)