It’s a Bluenose Encore for Thierry

Thierry Lincou – 2012 Bluenose Squash Classic Champion …

Jeff Cullis Reporting

PSA $55k Bluenose Classic, Final

Thierry Lincou (Fra) bt [4] Daryl Selby (Eng)
9-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-5, 11-4 (92 mins)

This final was a rematch of the 2010 Bluenose Classic final, where Lincou won a 3-1, 73 minute decision over Selby. Thierry and Daryl have met four times previously, with Selby losing the first three but winning their most recent encounter last month at the Swedish Open.

This match would be a big one as Selby would regain a top-ten world ranking were he to win his first Bluenose, while Lincou would be looking to reclaim the Bluenose title, having missed last year’s event due to injury.

The first rally started off patiently before moving to an exchange of cross-courts, leading to a let. Off the next serve Selby hit tin on a cross attempt. Lincou then put a forehand into the nick to make it 1-1.

They then settled in to a longer, medium-pace rally up the backhand wall, occasionally hitting tighter, higher shots before Lincou went back on the attack, putting in three drops that Selby did well to retrieve before putting the last one away. The following rally started with cross-court and then drop exchanges.

Lincou put in a nice attack but Selby again retrieved as the crowd was already on the edge of their seats. Selby called for a let but didn’t receive it as he doubled over after apparently receiving an elbow to the neck. After a pause, Selby resumed play leading to cheers of “let’s go England!”

Selby hit some nice attacks to make the game 3-3, then Lincou won the next two off of a forehand cross-court drop followed by a nice attacking boast. At 5-3 Lincou began to attack on seemingly every shot, but Selby kept returning everything to good length, until finally throwing in an attack of his own that found the tin.

Selby then hit a nick on the forehand, followed by an outrageous shot into the back wall nick after a long rally to make it 5-6. Lincou took the next off a perfect backhand drop, then Selby made some excellent gets in a long rally before Lincou’s racket got caught on his way to the side wall. A let was given and Selby exclaimed “it’s his own fault, he thought I was going to drop, but I didn’t!” before winning the rally on a nice cross-court lob with Lincou pinned up front to make it 6-7.

Lincou then found the tin and Selby played extremely tight shots in the following rally to take his first lead of the game at 8-7. Selby then survived another barrage of drops from Lincou to put in his own winner, followed by tin from Lincou to give Selby game ball at 10-7.  Lincou clawed his way back with some great length and attacks to 9-10. The pattern of 7 or 8 backhand lengths, followed by a cross-court interlude before moving to the front of the court continued. Selby counter-dropped well before a let was called. Fans were still on the edge of their seats as Selby put in a forehand cross-court drop that hit the front-wall join to win him the first game 11-9 as the crowd went crazy.

Lincou took the first three points of the second off a nice drop, then two solid cross-court winners. He then hit a quick tin on a forehand drop attempt, followed by Selby finding the backhand nick to make it 2-3.

Both players put in some good attacks and retrievals to start the next rally before Lincou got the upper hand, moving Selby to all four corners before burying one to make it 4-2. Selby hit the tin on a straight forehand drop attempt in the next rally and Lincou put in a straight backhand kill off a high backhand rally to go up 6-2. Lincou misfired on a drop attempt and then found himself under heavy fire from Selby in the next two rallies, who took both to knot the game at 6-6. Selby then put on a show, retrieving multiple attacking shots and drops before clipping the tin as the crowd applauded his efforts.

They then traded points, as each player appeared to be an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object; Selby could apparently retrieve indefinitely while Lincou played squash like a machine, hitting crisp drops and tight lengths while methodically reclaiming the T between shots. Up 9-8, Lincou hit tight lengths to both back corners until Selby popped one up, then drove in a nicely weighted forehand cross-court to get to his first game ball.

After a very long rally Selby hit a nice drop from the back court but Lincou managed to squeeze a let. Selby again dropped from deep on the backhand but Lincou was there in time to continue the rally before putting in a perfectly-weighted forehand length, dying in the back corner as the crowd again lost control.

The third opened with Lincou hitting a near-nick up front with Selby close by. The marker called for a decision to be made by the refs but then Selby said “I’m not asking for a let” and received cheers for his honesty.

Lincou took the second point on a drop before Selby came back with a hard cross-court winner and a nice drop of his own. The following rally was heavy on cross-courts, with Selby exerting pressure on Lincou who went for an awkward drop into the tin while falling backwards. After numerous further cross-courts were exchanged, it was Selby’s turn to find tin to knot the game at 3-3.

Lincou then took the next three points – a drop, a cross-court length into a back-court nick, and a perfect forehand boast, to make it 6-3. Selby decided that two could play at that game and put in a perfect boast winner of his own off the next serve.

Lincou hit tin and the players traded points to make it 7-6. A long rally ensued with some nice gets from both sides before Selby again did the referees a favour and called his own ball down. Selby then put in an amazing flick drop to pull within one. Two lets were called by Lincou, who then had Selby under enormous pressure, but Selby’s retrievals stymied Lincou who wound up finding tin after hitting one drop too many to knot it at eights.

The rallies started off more conservatively at this point, following a similar pattern of backhand length at varying pace, followed by flurries of cross-courts before moving to the attacking game. Lincou took one on a forehand drop, then Selby’s backhand was too short for Lincou.

Selby, under pressure at 9-9, continued to make impossible gets look easy before finding the nick on a backhand and shouting “come on” to pump up both himself, and the crowd. At 10-9, the rally started cautiously and then Selby hit a supremely tight forehand that Lincou couldn’t scrape. Lincou pumped his fist as the crowd could not believe their eyes.

The opening rally of the fourth game quickly became a drop exchange as Selby’s fluid movement helped him get in the winning forehand drop. Lincou then hit tin to give Selby the early lead 2-0. Lincou took the next one, then Selby hit a beautiful drop into the nick to earn applause and the point.

A quick stroke for Lincou made it 2-3, then Lincou, positioned at the T, had Selby running cross-court sprints before hitting a great length that even a sprawling Selby could not return. A huge roar went up from the crowd as the game was tied at 3-3. Points were traded to make it 4-4, then Lincou put in an excellent mid-court boast winner, followed by a perfectly-weighted backhand cross-court to make it 6-4.

The next rally involved some nice drops and lob retrievals from both players, punctuated by three different let calls before Lincou hit a perfect width to lead by three. Some good front-court work was put in in the next rally until Lincou clipped the tin to make it 6-5. It was all Lincou from here, however, as he went up 10-5 by moving Selby around until he either hit the tin or Lincou could muster a winner. The final rally was spectacular as both players used lobs and drops to great effect before Lincou got the upper hand and put away a nice cross-court finish to take the game 11-5.
The crowd was on its feet, flush with anticipation to start the fifth. A quick cross-court rally to start things off ended with Selby catching the frame and sending the ball into the tin. Then Lincou hit a front-wall join to give Selby a stroke. Lincou then put in a backhand drop from deep in the back of the court that caught Selby by surprise.

Points were traded, then Lincou was awarded a stroke. He then countered a Selby drop to make it 5-2. Selby put in some nice tight lobs in the following rally, then put in some good attacks that Lincou was equal to, before Selby finally hit tin. Down 7-2, the crowd began egging Daryl on, but it was becoming clear that Lincou’s earlier attacking work was having its desired effect in slowing Selby down.

But Selby would never stop trying, making four or five back-wall returns as Lincou pinned him in the back court before taking the point on an unreasonably short backhand drop. Selby then hit a beautiful backhand drop from the back court into the straight nick to make it 8-4.

From here it was all Lincou, however, as Selby found tin twice on tired shots to end the game 11-4 after 92 minutes. The crowd were again on their feet, showing their thanks for a spectacular final match.

After the game, Selby had some comments.

“Full credit to Lincou, that was an amazing performance. First three games were neck and neck. I was waiting for him to get tired!…But mentally I couldn’t stick with it.  Once I won the 3rd I did genuinely think I’d done enough to shake him off. I went 3-1 up in the 4th, a couple rallies, if they’d gone my way and I’d gotten a bit more of a lead it might’ve disheartened him and I was waiting for him to get a little bit tired but he never did, which was amazing, really.

“He kept strong and in the middle of the 4th he played some unbelievable stuff and used all his experience. The 5th was just a bad start from me and he, tactically, was excellent…it’s a sign, you know, he’s been world #1, world champion…the 4th and 5th games showed exactly why.”

As for the crowd, he said, “it’s nice walking out in front of a good crowd, and a very loud crowd…that’s the reason why you got a great match, is because both of us were up for it…it gets the adrenaline pumping, it makes us play better.” He thanked the organizing group and said “I hope it continues to get bigger and better because it’s amazing here.”

As for Lincou, Neil let it slip that it was soon to be Lincou’s birthday, and the entire crowd sang along “Happy Birthday” to him after the match.

Lincou also praised his opponent saying “he was really impressive covering the court, I was struggling to find a way to break him down but I was getting tired at the same time. “When I was 2-1 down I thought that was the end of it….mentally it was tough to get back so in the fourth game I just tried to be really aggressive and attacking but at the same time, not open up the court too much, so I think I found the right balance.”

He thought he should “try something else” in the fourth because otherwise, “he’s going to just win.” He went on to say that his last tournament win was two years ago, also at the Bluenose saying, “this city really brings me luck.”

Finally, he dedicated his performance to his wife, and thanked everyone involved for allowing him to perform on such a great stage.

 

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