2:32 pm
20 Jun 2024

Beachill After Revenge Over Champion Palmer

4 Nov 2004

England's Lee Beachill will be after revenge when he faces Australia's defending champion David Palmer in Friday's semi-finals of the Harris British Open Squash Championships at the Albert Hall in Nottingham.

The new world No1 from Pontefract in Yorkshire battled for exactly an hour in today's quarter-finals on the all-glass court to quash seventh-seeded Australian Joseph Kneipp 11-8 11-7 9-11 11-7 to earn a place in the last four for the first time since losing to Palmer at the same stage three years ago.

In the earlier quarter-final Palmer, himself a former world No1 and twice-winner of the British Open title, despatched Frenchman Gregory Gaultier 11-6 4-11 11-2 11-2 in 54 minutes.

Beachill was full of praise for his quarter-final opponent: "Joe's difficult to read at the best of times and tough to play against. He's certainly got better with age and playing the best squash he's ever played - he's so consistent," said the top seed of the 31-year-old from Brisbane.

Of his semi-final opponent, Beachill added: "You know when you walk onto the court with David, it's going to be a tough match - after all, he's been number one in the world."

Second-seeded Frenchman Thierry Lincou reached his second British Open semi-final in three years after fighting back from a game down to beat Australia's Anthony Ricketts, the 11th seed, 7-11 11-9 11-4 11-6 in 64 minutes.

"I was too inconsistent in the first game and just lost my patience," said the world No2 from Paris. "But from the second game onwards, I felt I was more in charge, varying the pace and playing a much tighter game.

"My strategy was good and the glass court suits me. In fact, I really enjoy playing in England - it seems to bring me luck."

The 28-year-old former world No1 will face an unexpected opponent in Friday's semi-finals in the form of Egypt's fifth seed Amr Shabana. The world No7 from Cairo has failed to live up to his 'world champion' billing since capturing the World Open crown in Pakistan last December.

But tonight's Albert Hall audience were treated to a new Shabana, who swept to an 11-3 11-8 11-8 upset over England's fourth seed Nick Matthew in 40 minutes - and then declared that he is a changed man since becoming engaged in the summer.

"I realise that I can't keep acting like a kid anymore - and now that I am getting married I am approaching everything completely differently - I feel as I have grown up," said the left-hander, who marries his fiancee Najla next May.

"It's the first time since the World Open that I have really felt good about my squash - I've never beaten Nick before so I am really happy to have won tonight."

In the first women's quarter-final of the day, Dutch star Vanessa Atkinson, the third seed who has already claimed six international titles this year, beat England's Jenny Duncalf. Atkinson's 9-4 9-2 9-4 victory over the 10th seed from Harrogate in Yorkshire takes her to the semi-finals for the second time.

"I had such a bad British Open last year, when I was beaten in the first round, that I am delighted to have won today and reached my second semi-final," said Atkinson, a seven-times winner of the Dutch national title.

Atkinson will meet defending champion Rachael Grinham in the last four after the top seed from Australia beat Malaysia's Nicol David, the number seven seed, 10-8 9-2 9-1 in 38 minutes.

"I'm very happy to have got through - especially as I feel pretty stiff, having not played much since the World Team Championships a month ago," said the smiling world No1 from Toowoomba in Queensland afterwards.

"I decided to take some time off after Amsterdam as the schedule's getting pretty busy, and I need to be in peak condition for the Qatar Classic and World Open coming up - where there are big ranking points at stake," added the older of the two Grinham sisters.

"Nicol played really well tonight - I haven't had too much trouble with her, yet!" explained the Cairo-based 27-year-old.

When asked about her feelings about the upcoming game with Atkinson, Grinham said: "You never know with Vanessa, she's up and down and it can go either way."

The Dutch No1 came out on top in the pair's battle in the Brunei International final in July, but Rachael has also secured three wins against Atkinson in the year.

"I really love playing on the glass court on which I won the title here last year, but I'm not feeling as energetic as I should be, so I'll need to put that right," concluded the women's favourite.

Men's quarter-finals:
[1] Lee Beachill (ENG) bt [7] Joseph Kneipp (AUS) 11-8, 11-7, 9-11, 11-7 (60m)
[3] David Palmer (AUS) bt [8] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 11-6, 4-11, 11-2, 11-2 (54m)
[5] Amr Shabana (EGY) bt [4] Nick Matthew (ENG) 11-3, 11-8, 11-8 (40m)
[2] Thierry Lincou (FRA) bt [11] Anthony Ricketts (AUS) 7-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-6 (64m)

Women's quarter-finals:
[1] Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt [7] Nicol David (MAS) 10-8, 9-2, 9-1 (38m)
[3] Vanessa Atkinson (NED) bt [10] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) 9-4, 9-2, 9-4 (38m)