09 September 2010


Here we have some great steady squash in a highly entertaining rally between the two top French players, Thierry Lincou and Gregory Gaultier, both former world number ones. Training together a couple of times a week for a decade means that when it comes to a real match, there's no way to be cheaply deceptive; these two have learned to know each other inside-out, you definitely have to keep it steady, try to make 'sleep' the other's awareness, and only then you can come out with an effective deception that can turn the momentum of the rally into your favour. In the below rally Gaultier was trying a couple of times to involve some deception, but at the end it was a simply good, wide and deep cross-court shot (and the fatigue in Lincou's legs) that won him the point. In general, I think the professional relation between the two is really exemplary. They happen to come from neighbour cities, Thierry from Marseille, Greg from Aix-en-Provence. Thierry was already a confirmed top pro (the first French to do so) when Greg was a highly promising up and coming player. There could have been some conflict, as a lot was on steak and the differences of their characters could have easily generated dissent, to say the least. Nevertheless - except a very contained number of insignificant cases - mutual respect was always the key note. I happened to witness a really nice example of it at the 2010 ISS Canary Wharf Squash Classic; it was quarter-finals day, Lincou lost to Nick Matthew 3:0, pretty clinically, there was not much he could have done. Gaultier's quarter-final was a total different story: he played David Palmer, won the first game in some demolishing fashion (11:3), then, as it happens to him so often, lost the wire and as a consequence the next two games. Gaultier still ended up winning in five. Half an hour later, I saw Gaultier stepping (running) towards Lincou - who was watching the following match in the first row of the side-wall  - and  exchanging an emotional hug. It looked warm, sincere and whole-souled, really.