Sunday, May 26, 2024

ALLAM BRITISH OPEN: King triumph ensures new champion


Laura Massaro Eng - (left) beats Natalie Grinham (Aus)

King Triumph Ensures New British Open Champion


Round-up from WSA

Reigning champion Rachael Grinham crashed out the Allam British Open Squash Championships yesterday after a thrilling five-game spectacle against seed Joelle King.

The No6 seed from Australia won the last British Open event back in 2009, but was unable to halt the momentum of the resilient New Zealand international.  Experience played a part as King looked uncomfortable in the early stages of the match and Grinham wasted no time in raising a substantial lead.  More settled in the second, the No12 seed’s length began to find the back corners, and her superior reach was invaluable to her retrieval efforts.

King took the lead after the third game after enjoying a successful run of play in which she volleyed well and succeeded in making life difficult for the Australian.  Her opponent, four-time British Open champion, refused to lie down however and mounted a successful comeback to draw level at 2-all and force the fifth and final game.  This proved a cat-and-mouse-like affair, as neither play could extended their lead further than three points, and at the tie-break it was eventually the younger of the pair that broke the stalemate to claim progression to the quarters.

“I was quite nervous early on I think,” explained a delighted King.  “She’s obviously a great player and I rushed a bit at the start.  I used to flake a bit under pressure, but today was much better and I’m very happy to win.

“This is my first time in the British Open quarter-finals, so it feels pretty special.  I’ve reached WSA World Series quarters before in Oz and Malaysia, but to be in the British Open here is pretty special.”

Camille Serme continued her maiden run in the $95K World Series event by beating King’s Kiwi team-mate Jaclyn Hawkes in the first match of the day.

The tenth seed from Paris, France started brightly and dominated the first game.  In contrast, Hawkes adjusted slowly to the new court and was unable to find a decent length throughout the early stages.  Her opponent was in no mood to allow her to settle and closed out an 11/2 win in just 4-minutes.

Hawkes looked more energetic in the second.  Her length had improved and consistently found the back corners.  This new found consistency put the Frenchwoman under more pressure and her error count rose as a result.  More tins allowed Hawkes the opportunity to challenge for the game, but a slight increase in pace from Serme put the game to bed.  It was to be the closest game of the clash, as Hawkes’ presence wilted in the third game.  Some good straight length play was hindered by lose cross courts and Serme, lethal on the volley, was more than willing to pounce on the loose balls and ended the tie 11/2, 11/9, 11/5.

Serme progresses to face home hope Laura Massaro in the quarter-finals, after the No3 seed won a hard-fought battle against Natalie Grinham.  Massaro just edged a close tie-break first game and repeated the feat eleven minutes later to make it 2-0.  From there, Grinham’s resistance faltered as her English opponent pushed higher and higher up the court, volleying well and forcing errors from the Dutch international.  Strong and assertive throughout, Massaro seemed to relish the stage set at the O2 Arena and completed her 3-0 win to join the other seeds in the next round.

“It doesn’t feel too cold when you’re on court,” said the world No4.  “But it’s cool, which makes it important to hit a good length and then pounce on the return!

“To play Natalie in the last 16 was always going to be a tough one so I knew it was one I had to prepare for.  It was a tough start but I’m pleased to get through the first match on the glass.”

World No1 Nicol David was last on court for round two, facing close friend and British Open roommateSamantha Teran of Mexico.  The Malaysian star has been top of the WSA World Rankings for over five years now, and put in a typically confident display in front of the buzzing London crowd.  Tight length and consummate volleying saw David extend comfortable leads in the first two games, although Teran’s retrieval play was excellent throughout.  Constantly under pressure, the Mexican’s front court volleying was often loose, only to be picked off by her opponent and David was able to close out the win in under 30-minutes, 11/7, 11/7, 11/3.

Photos from all of today’s matches are available upon request to [email protected] with thanks to Jordan Mansfield.

Quarter final draw:

12.00 – [7] Annie Au (HKG) vs [16] Nour El Sherbini (EGY)

14.15 – [2] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) v [5] Raneem El Weleily (EGY)

18.00 – [3] Laura Massaro (ENG) v [10] Camille Serme (FRA)

20.15 – [1] Nicol David (MAS) v [12] Joelle King (NZL)

Round two results:

[1] Nicol David (MAS) bt [11] Samantha Teran (MEX)           11-7, 11-7, 11-3 (28m)

[12] Joelle King (NZL) bt [6] Rachael Grinham (AUS) 3-11, 11-5, 11-8, 5-11, 15-13 (60m)

[3] Laura Massaro (ENG) bt [9] Natalie Grinham (NED)        15-13, 12-10, 11-6 (39m)

[10] Camille Serme (FRA) bt Jaclyn Hawkes (NZL)     11-2, 11-9, 11-5 (23m)

[7] Annie Au (HKG) bt Alison Waters (ENG)   9-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-7 (59m)

[16] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt [4] Madeline Perry (IRL)        11-6, 4-11, 5-11, 11-3, 11-5 (45m)

[5] Raneem El Weleily (EGY) bt [14] Dipika Pallikal (IND)     11-4, 8-11, 11-4, 7-11, 11-7 (51m)

[2] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) bt [15] Donna Urquhart (AUS)         11-2, 11-13, 11-4, 12-10 (45m)


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