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Rachael Grinham hoping for one final piece of glory

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Aussie Grinham sets sights on top-ten and another shot at gold in the Commonwealth Games next year

TWELVE months ago, Rachael Grinham was left contemplating her future after dropping outside the top 15 of the world rankings for the first time since May 2000.

Over a 12 year period, the Australian won four British Open titles, one World Open title and topped the world rankings for 16 consecutive months. Some feat, then, for a player who has lived in the shadow of Nicol David for much of her career.

But while David’s success has reached unparalleled levels, Grinham has been hit by a series of niggling injuries and after a succession of first-round exits during the latter stages of 2012, her ranking fell outside the top 15.

She stayed there for most of this year but after reaching the final of the Macau Open and Penang Open, the 36-year-old has risen to 14th in the latest world rankings.

“I’ve been happy with the last half of this year, but for the first half I was still struggling with my back, and I wasn’t that fit,” Grinham told Squash Australia.

“But I wasn’t expecting to do well either. Physically I started to get myself sorted out. By mid-year I was in pretty good shape. Now I’m just looking forward to playing in tournaments.”

“I believe if I’m playing well I can beat quite a few of the top 10 players. Obviously the top three are ahead of everyone else, but everyone else I give myself a good chance against.”

Despite her back problems, Grinham’s workload this year has been unrelenting and while she realises age is catching up with her, the former world number one sees no reason why she cannot continue to compete at the highest level.

“I think it’s possible for me to get back into the top 10,” she said.

“I believe if I’m playing well I can beat quite a few of the top 10 players. Obviously the top three are ahead of everyone else, but everyone else I give myself a good chance against.”

One driving force keeping Grinham in the game is the Commonwealth Games and having boycotted the Delhi Games because of a selection dispute, she is itching to represent her country again next year.

“At the moment Glasgow is the one thing I’m aiming for,” Grinham admits.

“Obviously at my age I have no idea how long I’m going to play for, it’s really a six month at a time kind of thing. So that’s the one thing I want to keep playing for, to play in Glasgow and see how I do there and then reassess my situation after that.

“I wasn’t in Delhi, so it has given me motivation. I think that’s something I’ve struggled with over the past five years. When I have peaked, I’ve won a world title and being number one, I guess it is hard to push yourself. But now with the Commonwealth Games coming up I want to push myself.

Grinham, who has won 31 WSA Tour titles, partnered her sister Natalie to doubles success in Melbourne in 2006 and after winning her third gold medal in the World Team Championships in 2010, she is hopeful of adding another achievement to her impressive résumé. 

“I really would like to win another gold medal,” she said. “Obviously in the singles it’s going to be tough, but in the doubles I think we’ll have a good chance – a pretty good chance to be honest.

“It’s motivating me to keep in shape. When I first started playing the top 10 was really strong, and then it would drop off. But now anyone from about eight to 25/30 you can never know who will win on any given day.”

Source: Ross Solly (Squash Australia); Pictures by Steve Cubbins (SquashSite)

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