What is the Pro's strategy?
Since 1990 the game of squash has changed considerably where rallies had many drops, lobs, boasts, and volleys. Perhaps
the two developments that loom the largest are improved racquet
technology and fitness.
In 1990, a 170 gm. racquet would have been considered light, and
anything that was lighter was relatively imbalanced, unresponsive, and
had a considerably smaller sweet spot. Advances in material technology
have allowed players to develop radically different racquet skills than
their predicessors. An indication of this is the importance that
deception has in the modern game. Another indicator is the resulting
preeminence of volleying in today's game.
Certainly, Jansher was one of the fittest players of all-time, but today
there are literally scores players with incredibly high levels of
fitness, whereas Jansher had few peers, if any, in that catagory.
On the professional tour, the first game means nothing if the players
are reasonably close in level. It is a
period of feeling each other out. That's why the rallies are so long
Nicol plays a patient game (which some find boring) because
he knows no one can compete with his pace and tightness. Even Power
says that Nicol's pace will break him in the 3rd or 4th game if he's
not in perfect shape.
Even shot makers like Lincou, Kneipp, Power play cautious
in the first game, sense the opponents weakness, tire him out, and
exploit it later. Even Janhagir did this. He would routinely win
matches 9-7, 9-2, 9-0.
While you and I don't need to be cautious, professionals
do. They have the anticipation and fitness to track down nearly every
ball played. Thus, squash at that level becomes an attritional game.
The attritional game was popularized by many players in the 70's, but
was brought to a new level by Jahangir Khan. That is why the PSA
switched from 9 point to PAR scoring. Only when a shotmaker as
talented as Jansher Khan came along was this total attrition even
Watch a professional match in person and you'll be amazed by their
court awareness, anticipation, and fitness. Their pace is mind
boggling and they must play cautious. If they didn't, they'd hit some
grat ones, but also some weak shots that would allow the other player
not to end the point on the spot, but get them running around on the
diagonals like a chicken with their head cut off. Power is the best
at this. He plays cautious for a few rails and then, when he senses
weakness, explodes, throws in a trickle boast, gets them running, and
then can end the rally. Pro squash is an attritional game until one
player becomes confident he can seize control. Pace, fitness, and
breaking your opponent win matches at that level-- not the odd great
shot here and there.