The Great Survivor to go on

Richard Eaton reports …

Thierry Lincou, the former world number one from France, has confounded predictions that he will retire after the World Open – even though he is the tournament’s oldest player.

The 35-year-old from Marseille has remained good enough to be seeded in the world’s top ten – and now plans to extend his history-making career until the world team championships at Chartres in 2013.

That could be a fitting climax for the only Frenchman ever to have won the World Open, something he achieved by saving a match point against England’s Lee Beachill in the 2004 final at Doha.

How Lincou has preserved his talent so well is an increasingly popular question. “There are many reasons,” he answers.

“The main one is that I really looked after my body very well. I always did an intelligent, well planned training programme – and had with it a nice idea of life as well.

“Everything was planned. The family and children encouraged me to keep it going as well. I have a stable life.

“I really enjoy training and really like playing the tour. These are important keys to success. Some guys don’t like travelling so much, don’t cope with the flights and the jet lag, and don’t want to leave home. But I never had these issues.”

If Lincou lives up to his enduring reputation he could reach the World Open quarter-finals here. There he might have another meeting with Karim Darwish, the third-seeded former world number one from Egypt, whom he beat in the semi-finals of the world team championships at Paderborn in August.

“That was one of my best wins in the past two years – it really meant something for me at this stage of my career,” Lincou said. “At 35 I can still deliver and put in a good performance like that, you know. It keeps me going and makes me believe I can still sometimes be among the top players.”

To progress as far as this possible repeat, Lincou may have to survive a difficult last 16 against David Palmer, the tournament’s only other 35-year-old. “If we do play each other, it would be a match within a match,” Lincou said.

Both Lincou and Palmer survived torrid first round encounters, against Alan Clyne and Shawn Delierre, both needing an hour and a half to see off their young challengers.

“We are from the same generation, and we have achieved pretty much the same things – ten years in the top ten, blah, blah, blah!!!” he added, adding modest noises to the description.

“It’s always a good rivalry, and I think we help each other to keep going as well. If we are still here now it is because we are both motivated for each other to stay on the tour.”

Richard Eaton

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