As I walk around the tournament and talk to people, friends, players, and yes, even referees, it's quite amazing the tidbits you pick up.e
Okay, first one was during the Azzis and Shabanna match. Game 1 game ball Shabanna is awarded a stroke off a beautiful drop to the backhand side, Shabanna is clearly too far back to retrieve it and runs into Azziz, requesting a let. He is awarded a stroke! Bad call. What was interesting is the referees for that match were being assessed by one of the highest ranking referees in the world, only 8 hold that distinction. I went up to him and asked him about the call, he replied, a mistake, no question about it, a let, Shabanna was too far back. Too bad, he said because it came at a critical point in a tight game of the match.
Palmer remembers loosing to Olli Tuominen a couple of years back, my son and I were at that match, it was boring, Palmer was dominant; we left after the second game (I'm forever reminded about this) we found out later Olli beat Palmer in 5. It was remarked that Palmer doesn't like much playing Olli, no worries, Adrian Waller, 76 ranked in the world upset Olli in 5. I snuck away from the office and was there to see another match but running behind schedule I watched the first couple of games of the Waller match. This 20 year old is good, really good, I thought he was a bit awkward in his footwork, he's tall and big, but he has exceptional rackets. Okay, he faces Palmer next, who beat a youngster, rather dispatched him in 3 games...Palmer mentioned before his match to me "you have to watch these kids."
Lee Beachhill was about, will try and talk to him, what a great player and former number one, he seemed to be about with his game face on.
Back to David Palmer, a close associate of his, whom I spoke to said he will be retiring after this years Commonwealth games. I tell all of you, David Palmer is in my top 5 as one of the greatest players I've ever seen play, see him play before he retires. This guy is really a special player.
Okay, back to Shabanna and Azziz, they were warming up the ball and after a few hits threw it back and took another one. My son, the astute student of the game, and recovering from the flu which forced him out of the amateur draw this weekend, dragged himself out of bed to watch his idol, Palmer play. After Palmer's match, my son stopped him and had a lengthy chat. They talked about the white ball the players play with. Palmer went into great explanation about how the white ball is really supposed to be like the black double yellow dot but really isn't, it's very inconsistent these batches of balls. He cited Shabanna as throwing the ball out because it was probably too fast. God I love this game, the details of which are pure genius. And when will they use that great Feather ball as the official ball, if Feather still makes it -- the best ball ever made.
One other Palmer bit, I said to him after his match with the youngster Francomb , that I thought this kid was a great player, he said "yeah, he seemed to have a bit of trouble with the glass court..." to which I replied, "I think you just wore him down."
Missing from this year's tournament Anjema, Isklander, Grant, Pilley, and of course Lincou. I expect two of these mentioned to come back and make it through to the semis next year.
This tournament is really the real Christmas.
Where was the towel when Francomb slipped, it took too long to fetch one. Who was that referee, off duty, cleaning the court glass? "Hey, Just helping out, " replied Wayne.
The other Ashour, Hisham, to me and my son the more talented of the two brothers, when asked when he was going to break top 10, finally -- replied he recently took his brother, of course the number one player in the world to 5 games...okay, forget the Sprite commercials I told him, as a flock of 11 year girls hounded him for his autograph, it won't matter years from now but your squash will. Did I sound a bit like pater?