The 2012 Cleveland Classic champion Nicol David looks on course to retain her title after two dominant wins see her comfortably into the semi-final round at the Cleveland Racquets Club, Pepper Pike, Ohio, USA.
David faced Jenny Duncalf in an unsurprising day of round one results, with the top seed dispatching the Englishwoman in straight games. All seven of the other seeded players also met expectations in the opening stage of the WSA Gold 50 event, although Egyptian pair Nour El Sherbini and Raneem El Weleily dropped the second of their respective four-game victories against Kasey Brown and Sarah Kippax. Third seed Alison Waters also dropped a game against qualifying opponent Joshana Chinappa of India.
Waters continued her form through to the semi-finals of her first competition of 2013 with a controlled performance to dispatch Egyptian teen Nour El Sherbini in straight games.
Raneem El Weleily contested an exciting attacking battle against Annie Au of Hong Kong. Both players were happy to take the opportunity to hit winners, but the Egyptian had an extra dimension to her game that Au could not compete with. The No.7 seed was forced into all four corners of the court and El Weleily was happy to pick off the loose balls. A change of tactic from Au in the third saw the Hong Kong international force a tie-break, but was unable to capitalise as the quality of the No.2 seed was enough to see her through to face Waters in the semi-finals.
David continued her run of six consecutive Cleveland match wins by dismissing fellow Malaysian Low Wee Wern. Last week’s Greenwich Open finalist forced a tie-break against the seven-time World Champion but was unable to finish off the gruelling opening game. The world No.1 upped the pace further in the second game with Wee Wern unable to respond in the latter stages. The third game saw a renewed effort from the younger player, but to no avail as the tournament favourite closed out a closer third game to cement her place in the semi-final.
David will play Madeline Perry in the next round, following the only seeded upset of the competition so far. The Irish No.8 seed twice came from a game down to defeat Joelle King of New Zealand in a cat-and-mouse-like match. King got off to a strong start after a hard-hitting first game, but Perry returned fire in the second to match her opponents pace with some canny counter-attacks to draw level. More frantic squash continued, but as King retook the lead after the third, the tables turned and Perry seemed to have found some reserves of energy. The Irishwoman ran away with the fourth game with King unable to respond, but the Kiwi held a small lead at the beginning of the fifth. Perry slowly chipped away at the deficit and tied at 5-all, the experienced player strung together a succession of points to claim an unfancied victory and a place in the semi’s.