Nicolette dives past Aisling Blake to achieve best result in US Open
By HOWARD HARDING – Squash Mad Correspondent
Revenge was the name of the game on the opening day of action in the Women’s Delaware Investments US Open when four of the eight matches in the WSA World Series Platinum event at Drexel University in Philadelphia gave players the chance to avenge recent defeats.
Nicolette Fernandes, the world No.22 from Guyana elevated to 16th seed following the withdrawal of US number one Amanda Sobhy, beat Irish qualifier Aisling Blake 11-5, 12-10, 11-5 to reverse the straight games defeat she suffered at the hands of the Dublin-born world No.37 in their previous Tour meeting two years ago.
“This is the farthest I’ve been in the US Open,” said the delighted 31-year-old (pictured above in full flight during her match) later. “It’s such a huge event and there is a real vibe to the whole thing, it makes you want to do well here.
“The season’s only just begun, but there have been lots of tournaments already,” Fernandes continued. “I had to miss the Caribbean Games, which my Federation didn’t like, but to get through in an event like this makes it worth it.”
Fernandes will now face Low Wee Wern, the No6 seed from Malaysia who also settled a score when she ousted Joey Chan – the world No.23 from Hong Kong who came out on top last time on Wee Wern’s home soil.
The Malaysian number two battled for 46 minutes to overcome Chan 11-5, 14-12, 7-11, 11-6 in her first Tour match since recording a career-high world No5 ranking two weeks ago.
“I think Joey played really well today,” said Wee Wern. “I was in and out. Mentally, after I lost the third, I was thinking, ‘I really need to hold her back and get into the fourth game because you can’t give Joey anything with her hands.’ So mentally I think it was really hard to get back in the match again after being 2-0 up.
“I love the US Open. It’s a great tournament, and it’s my fourth time here. I’ve played a few tournaments leading up to this so I’m looking forward to one more go before I take a quick break.”
But, fresh from her biggest Tour title success last week at the Carol Weymuller Open in New York, 30-year-old Londoner Waters despatched qualifier Ibrahim 11-9, 11-8, 11-3 to earn a place in the second round for the fifth time in a row since 2007.
“After China I knew it would be tough, and I wasn’t taking it lightly,” said Waters (pictured right).
“I like stepping up the court and volleying and that was working well today, so I’m delighted to come off with a three-nil. She’s going to be a real handful over the next few years.”
But there was revenge success for another Egyptian teenager when unseeded Nouran Gohar defeated seasoned campaigner Madeline Perry, the 37-year-old ninth seed from Ireland, 11-2, 11-6, 11-9.
The 17-year-old from Cairo will celebrate her first appearance in the event’s second round by taking on Waters.
Women’s Delaware Investments US Open, Drexel University, Philadelphia, USA.
1st round (top half of draw):
 Nicol David (MAS) bt [Q] Samantha Teran (MEX) 11-6, 11-5, 11-4 (32m)
 Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt [Q] Habiba Mohamed Ahmed (EGY) 11-3, 11-9, 3-11, 11-7 (37m)
 Nicolette Fernandes (GUY) bt [Q] Aisling Blake (IRL) 11-5, 12-10, 11-5 (34m)
 Low Wee Wern (MAS) bt Joey Chan (HKG) 11-5, 14-12, 7-11, 11-6 (46m)
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt [Q] Samantha Cornett (CAN) 11-7, 7-11, 12-10, 11-7 (41m)
 Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) bt Emily Whitlock (ENG) 12-14, 11-6, 11-9, 13-11 (60m)
Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt  Madeline Perry (IRL) 11-2, 11-6, 11-9 (31m)
 Alison Waters (ENG) bt [Q] Salma Hany Ibrahim (EGY) 11-9, 11-8, 11-3 (29m)
Full coverage on www.usopensquash.com
Pictures courtesy of WSA and US Open Squash