Sunday, April 14, 2024

US OPEN: Low on a high…now it’s Massaro in semi

In her first ever victory over the world No3 from Egypt, Low Wee Wern upset 2012 runner-up Raneem El Weleily in the quarter-finals of the Women’s Delaware Investments U.S. Open Championship at Drexel University in Philadelphia to ensure double Malaysian interest in the semi-finals for the first time in the event’s history.

The sixth seed from Penang, who has never before progressed beyond the first round, will meet second seed Laura Massaro in the semi-finals – joining defending champion and fellow Penangite Nicol David in the penultimate round.

Low came through a five-game thriller to progress to the last four of the Women’s Squash Association World Series Platinum event which – for the first time ever – is providing equal prize money to the men’s event.

The Malaysian (pictured above with El Weleily) twice stemmed leads by third seed El Weleily before clinching her breakthrough 7-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-9, 11-8 win in 66 minutes.

El Weleily pulled away from seven-all in the first to take the opening game. After 23-year-old Low levelled, it was the Egyptian who moved on from seven-all in the third to reclaim the lead.

The 24-year-old from Cairo looked on course for a second successive place in the semis as she led 7-4 in the fourth – but Low hung in to level at eight-all before two strokes took the match into a decider.

El Weleily’s error count suddenly increased dramatically as five tins gave the Malaysian underdog a 6-1 advantage. The Egyptian worked her way back, however, and edged ahead at 8-7.

But a successful appeal against a let turned into a stroke to give Low a 9-8 lead – then two more errors took the Malaysian into the semis.

“I feel like going back on for another game, the rallies were so hard it doesn’t feel like it’s all over,” said the jubilant winner. “It’s definitely one of my best wins, but there was no pressure on me going into the match, so I just had to stick in and that seemed to work in my favour today.”

World No2 Laura Massaro was up against surprise opponent Kasey Brown, and was eager to get revenge for the ninth-seeded Australian’s upset over her England team-mate Jenny Duncalf in the previous round.

Brown started strongly, building up leads 5-2 and 7-3. But Massaro (pictured above with Brown)fought back to level at eight-all and moved on to game-ball.

But the England number one from Preston lost out on a video review and Brown seized the chance to take the opening game.

Massaro came out strongly in the second – and ultimately controlled the next three games.

From 6-2 in the second and 7-3 up in the third, the 29-year-old soon established a 2/1 lead before closing out the match 10-12, 11-4, 11-8, 11-5 after 55 minutes.

“We hadn’t played for a couple of years, so I had to get used to how Kasey plays, and she’s playing well at the moment,” said Massaro, the 2011 champion.

“She’s very strong down the middle so I had to adjust my game to counter that and I’m happy with how I played the last three games.”

Quarter-finals (lower half of draw):
[6] Low Wee Wern (MAS) bt [3] Raneem El Weleily (EGY) 7-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-9, 11-8 (66m)
[2] Laura Massaro (ENG) bt [9] Kasey Brown (AUS) 10-12, 11-4, 11-8, 11-5 (55m)

Semi-final line-up:
[1] Nicol David (MAS) v [5] Joelle King (NZL)
[2] Laura Massaro (ENG) v [6] Low Wee Wern (MAS)


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