Home crowd not enough for Ryding

DEAN McNULTY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:23 AM ET

Playing the part of the last Canadian standing at the PACE Canadian Squash Classic was something Graham Ryding was sort of hoping would be his claim to fame in the final round of the five-day $75,000 tournament.

And after his tough first-round win over American Julian Illingworth Monday moved him to the round of 16 Ryding thought he was heading in that direction.

Ryding -- a Winnipeg native who now calls Toronto home -- looked up at yesterday's match-ups, however, and saw his hopes take a dive that Darcy Tucker would be proud of: He had drawn the world's No. 2 seed David Palmer of Australia.

Ryding - ranked 23rd in the world - said that he hoped that with Canadian fans cheering him on he could upset the 30-year-old former world champion.

The cheering wasn't enough, however, to push Ryding past Palmer in a hard fought 11-3, 11-9, 12-14, 11-6 loss.

"He put a lot of pressure on me," Ryding said. "But I'm realistic; I was expecting it to be tough."

Ryding, 31, said he tried to take his game to Palmer.

"I was trying to see how he would react to my pressure," he said.

Palmer knew going into the match at the John Bassett Theatre in the Metro Convention Centre that Ryding would be pumped up playing before a home crowd.

"I was fully aware that Graham was a great player, even though he's coming to the end of his career" Palmer said. "But when he's on he's a very dangerous player and when he's playing here in Toronto he's even more dangerous."

It's not the first time the pair has matched up in the second round of the Canadian Classic.

"I played him here three or four years ago in the second round also and that was a pretty tough match," Palmer said. But it was a match that Palmer won as well.

Graham said that playing in front of a Canadian audience was a mixed blessing, while he was on the receiving end of the cheers he also had to face the pressure of being the lone hope for the country left in the tournament.

"There are distractions playing at home," Graham said. "And there are extra pressures."


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