Nicol to meet Power in final

HONG KONG, SEPT. 2. Defending champion Peter Nicol and world number two Jonathon Power will again clash in the final of the $ 74,000 Cathay Pacific Squash Open. Nicol defeated Australia's Stewart Boswell 15-10, 15-10, 15-8 in 39 minutes while Power had a 40 minute 15-13, 15-10, 15-12 win over another young Aussie, Anthony Ricketts.

For the third year running, the final features Nicol and Power with the scoreline reading one apiece. Interestingly, both have figured in four Cathay Pacific Open finals, with Nicol having lost to Jansher in 1994 and Power to Jansher in 1997. They have met twice this year,at the Irish Millennium Open and the PSA Masters, both titles being won by Nicol in straight games.

Nicol, the Pied Piper, made Boswell dance to his tune. The Scot was content to rally and move his opponent around. The 22 year- old Boswell had attacked purposefully in his previous matches but tried to take Nicol on at his own game and was bundled out. The young Aussie was sucked into a sense of complacency.

As Nicol persevered with an immaculate length, used the lob to push his opponent back and had the croscourt jab to finish many a rally, the match became a one horse race. The world champion led 10-5 in the opener, 11-6 in the second and 9-2 in the third.

Both players were very sporting and told referee Jamshed Gul whenever they felt their ball was not up. The man in the hot seat had a relatively easy time compared to the earlier rounds. Rodney Martin, winner of the Men's World Open in 1991 and this event in 1992, was advising Boswell but there was little the young Aussie could do as the man from Inverurie cantered to the winning post.

In contrast, the second semifinal which saw Power beat Anthony Ricketts was a heady mix of good squash, near misses, pushes and shoves and was laced with humour. Power came on court with his left hand strapped, having torn ligaments after a heavy fall in the quarterfinal against John White.

Ricketts had bulldozed his way into the last four and continued in the same vein as he chalked up a 13-7 lead in the opener. The `Southerly Buster', a stormy gale well known in Sydney, had rattled the `Maple Leaf'. The gloom soon disappeared as the genius of Power saw him win the next eight points.

A forehand volley plucked out of the air started it off, three strokes helped him level but he had created the situations with his ambidextrous approach and then Ricketts tried a backhand boast which ended up in the tin.

The Canadian led 9-5 in the second. He was flicking the ball around disdainfully and the Aussie helped his cause by making unforced errors. The brute force was there but so was the impatience. Ricketts is a tough cookie. It was his turn to rise to the occasion. A superb forehand crosscourt from the Sydneysider made the score 8-9.

Ricketts served at 8-9 and referee Chris Clark gave a let as Power felt somebody had used a flash. Ricketts was furious and thought Power had let go the serve because it was good. `` What are you doing, you choker?'', he screamed. There had been a lot of eye contact between the players and Power had politely suggested to the chair that he was being barged into repeatedly.

Power's ability to play quality squash when it mattered gave him the second game. He was 2-6 down in the third as the Aussie thundered away. Ricketts showed lovely touch with a delicate forehand to reach 7-4, had another to make it 9-7 and then murdered a forehand crosscourt at 11-9. But, as had happened in the previous two games, Power responded like a maestro.

He flicked a backhand down the line to level, did it again to lead 13-12 and had Lady Luck on his side as a serve to the backhand found the nick.

The stage is set for the final showdown. Jansher and Chris Dittmar played three successive finals between 1987 and 1989. Nicol and Power have emulated that feat and despite the Canadian's injured left hand, he is capable of putting it across the world champion on a court that favours stroke-players.

lQuarterfinal results: Anthony Ricketts bt Simon Parke (Eng) 15- 11, 15-11, 15-9; Stewart Boswell bt Paul Johnson (Eng) 15-10, 15- 13, 15-8; Peter Nicol bt Mark Chaloner 16-17, 17-15, 15-10, 15- 11; Jonathon Power bt John White (Sco) 15-10, 11-15, 10-15, 15-8, 15-12.

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