Hosts To Contest All Three Doubles Finals In Melbourne

25 Mar 06

As predicted by the seedings, hosts Australia will contest all three doubles finals in the Commonwealth Games after the completion of two long sessions of semi-final play today at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre. For the second time in a week, Australian Natalie Grinham got the better of her older sister Rachael Grinham - in the Mixed Doubles semi-finals - and is now in line to become the first player in history to win three gold medals in a single Games.

Natalie started her day partnering Rachael in the first Women's Doubles semi-final, where the top-seeded pair triumphed 5-9, 9-3, 9-3, 9-6 over England's third seeds Tania Bailey & Vicky Botwright in 65 minutes.

The Queenslanders will face Shelley Kitchen & Tamsyn Leevey after the second seeds fought back from 2/0 down to prevail 3-9, 8-10, 9-4, 9-6, 9-3 in 82 minutes in an all-New Zealand clash with fourth seeds Louise Crome & Lara Petera.

Later, 28-year-old Natalie teamed up with fellow Australian Joseph Kneipp to contrive a 9-7, 9-7, 3-9, 3-9, 9-7 upset in 78 minutes over Rachael and David Palmer, the top seeds in the Mixed Doubles.

Natalie, who beat higher-seeded Rachael to earn a surprise gold medal in last week's women's singles final, is already guaranteed to become the first player to win three medals in a Games. Her golden opportunity in the Mixed final will be against English pair Vicky Botwright & James Willstrop, the fourth seeds who staged one of the most impressive comebacks in Melbourne when they beat second-seeded New Zealanders Shelley Kitchen & Glen Wilson - who won the title in 2002 with Leilani Joyce - 3-9, 6-9, 13-11, 9-3, 9-3 in 78 minutes.

James Willstrop said later: "I was very disappointed in my results in the singles and men's doubles. Not a lot has gone right in the last two weeks and I desperately wanted a medal, so I am over the moon. We now have to try and come down and get ready for tomorrow."

Peter Nicol and Lee Beachill are now one match away from becoming the first players to successfully defend a Commonwealth Games squash title. The Englishmen, who beat Stewart Boswell & Anthony Ricketts in the Manchester final, will meet the Australians again in the Melbourne Men's Doubles climax.

Boswell & Ricketts, the top seeds, beat surprise New Zealand opponents Campbell Grayson & Martin Knight, the fifth seeds, 9-6, 11-9, 11-9 in the opening semi-final, while later in the day, the second-seeded English pair recovered from a first game loss to defeat Australia's third seeds Dan Jenson & David Palmer 5-9, 9-4, 9-6, 9-4 in 102 minutes.

After the win, Nicol said: "I thought we played okay from the start, but they were exceptional in the first game. The third was a brutally long hard game and a real mental battle. We just kept pushing and talking to each other. We knew David (Palmer) would be tired after his schedule and so we played on him. In the last game we broke them mentally and physically."

Beachill added: "We started to get into the match towards the end of the first game, which was important as we got momentum going into the second. By the end we felt very comfortable, and the fourth was the best game of the doubles we ever played together."

Men's Doubles semi-finals:
[1] Stewart Boswell & Anthony Ricketts (AUS) bt [5] Campbell Grayson & Martin Knight (NZL)
9-6, 11-9, 11-9 (86m)
[2] Lee Beachill & Peter Nicol (ENG) bt [3] Dan Jenson & David Palmer (AUS)
5-9, 9-4, 9-6, 9-4 (102m)

Women's Doubles semi-finals:
[1] Natalie Grinham & Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt [3] Tania Bailey & Vicky Botwright (ENG)
5-9, 9-3, 9-3, 9-6 (65m)
[2] Shelley Kitchen & Tamsyn Leevey (NZL) bt [4] Louise Crome & Lara Petera (NZL)
3-9, 8-10, 9-4, 9-6, 9-3 (82m)

Mixed Doubles semi-finals:
[3] Natalie Grinham & Joseph Kneipp (AUS) bt [1] Rachael Grinham & David Palmer (AUS)
9-7, 9-7, 3-9, 3-9, 9-7 (78m)
[4] Vicky Botwright & James Willstrop (ENG) bt [2] Shelley Kitchen & Glen Wilson (NZL)
3-9, 6-9, 13-11, 9-3, 9-3 (78m)