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Aussies close in on Melbourne finals

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Rachael Grinham is still playing top-class squash at the age of 38
Rachael Grinham is still playing top-class squash at the age of 38

Evergreen Grinham powers through to Australian Open semi-finals
By ROSS SOLLY – Squash Mad Reporter in Melbourne

Ten years after winning her only Australian Open squash title, evergreen Rachael Grinham is just one win away from playing in another final.

The 38-year-old Grinham could not have been more impressive in beating seventh seed Joey Chan, of Hong Kong, in straight games 11-9, 11-6, 13-11 at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.

The tournament third seed will now play another Hong Kong player, top seed Annie Au, in Saturday’s semi-final.

In the men’s draw, Australia is guaranteed a player in Sunday’s final with top seed Cameron Pilley and third seed Ryan Cuskelly to face off in one of Saturday’s semi-finals. The other men’s semi features Pakistan’s Nasir Iqbal and New Zealand’s Paul Coll, who took out two of the top seeds.

Grinham said she didn’t expect to get this far in the tournament.

“I’ve had a few issues in the months leading up to this, so on a personal level I came here not having any expectations how I was going to play,” she said.

“But I’ve managed to pick up my form a bit, I’ve been getting a bit more confidence.

“To be fair this wasn’t one of Joey’s better days. I’m not the fittest, I haven’t played that many matches, so I had to take every opportunity that was there.”

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Both Cuskelly and Pilley are chasing their first ever Australian titles, with Pilley beating fellow Australian Rex Hedrick 5-11, 11-3, 11-3, 11-5 in the quarter finals.

And Cuskelly had to see off determined fellow Australian, Steve Finitsis, who had his third consecutive five-game marathon at the Open.

The 28-year-old Cuskelly eventually triumphed 11-7, 10-12, 12-10, 4-11, 11-6.

“That was my first five game match for two weeks, so it was pretty tough,” Cuskelly said.

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“He played really well and attacked, and I was a bit defensive tonight. I have to work on that for the next round, because I want to be aggressive but I was a bit defensive, so lesson learned.

“I won the first a little easier so I thought he might slow down, but he came out firing.”

In Saturday’s other semi-finals, two New Zealanders will have a chance to make Sunday’s finals.

Former world number four Joelle King will continue her comeback from serious injury when she takes on Malaysia’s Delia Arnold.

King beat Australia’s Donna Urquhart in four games to make the semi, while in the men’s draw fellow New Zealander Paul Coll will take on Pakistani fifth seed, Nasir Iqbal, who produced a huge performance to beat No.2 seed Nafiizwan Adnan of Malaysia.

Coll is the only unseeded player left in both the men’s and women’s draws of the tournament after raising his game by several notches to take out No.4 seed Leo Au of Hong Kong.
2015 Australian Open Championships, Melbourne.

Women’s Quarter-Finals:
Joelle King [2] (NZL) def Donna Urquhart [8] (AUS) 11-4 7-11 12-10 12-10
Delia Arnold [4] (MAS) def Line Hansen [5] (DEN) 9-11 7-11 11-4 11-8 12-10
Rachael Grinham [3] (AUS) def Joey Chan [7] (HKG) 11-9 11-6 13-11
Annie Au [1] (HKG) def Joshana Chinappa [6] (IND) 11-7 11-4 11-8;
Men’s Quarter-Finals:
Nasir Iqbal [5] (PAK) def Nafiizwan Adnan [2] (MAS) 8-11 11-8 11-9 11-6
Paul Coll (NZL) def Leo Au [4] (HKG) 11-9 11-6 11-8
Ryan Cuskelly [3] (AUS) def Steve Finitsis (AUS) 11-7 10-12 12-10 4-11 11-6
Cameron Pilley [1] (AUS) def Rex Hedrick [8] (AUS) 5-11 11-3 11-3 11-5. 

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