Grinhams Cruise Into World Open Last Sixteen In Amsterdam

23 Sep 09

Dutch number one Natalie Grinham cruised into the second round of the Forexx Women's World Open Squash 2009 when she beat England's Lauren Briggs in straight games in today's first round of the $118,000 WISPA World Tour event at Frans Otten Stadion in the Netherlands capital Amsterdam.

And, little more than half an hour later, the world number two from Almere was joined in the last sixteen by her elder sister Rachael Grinham, the world number four representing Australia who also despatched an English opponent without dropping a game.

Natalie Grinham has been counting down the days to her first appearance in the 2009 world championship ever since husband Tommy Berden and his company NextSquash first agreed to stage the sport's premier tournament more than two years ago.

The former Australian was delighted with her performance on the all-glass show court, romping to an 11-1, 11-3, 11-5 victory over Briggs, ranked 21 in the world, in just 21 minutes.

"I'm happy with the way I played - I got off quickly and was glad to close it in three. I felt I was really focussed out there," said a beaming Grinham junior afterwards.

"It's good to get the tournament finally started - I've been living with this for ages now with Tommy.

"I'm feeling good and I hope I can continue to be focussed every day. I suppose there's slight pressure on me as the Dutch number one, but I do well with a bit of pressure. It's nice to have an event as big as this where I live - and hopefully I can do well in front of the home crowd."

Rachael Grinham, who last week won the British Open title for a fourth time, was next on court - facing Dominique Lloyd-Walter, the world No19 from England who stretched the Australian to five games in the first round in Manchester.

But this time, third seed Grinham was playing on the all-glass court - a world apart from the conventional club plaster court that her British Open clash had been staged on.

"I think I was more pumped tonight than when I played Dom last week - and the atmosphere in the arena tonight helped," said Grinham after her 11-5, 11-7, 11-4 victory in 26 minutes.

"I knew it was important to get a good start tonight, play my shots and take her forward - and thankfully it worked.

"Our parents are here too - it's the first time they've seen us play in Europe - so that adds a little pressure as you want to put in a good performance.

"Winning the British Open last week has given me a bit of confidence - I'm in good shape at the moment. I've tended to be too edgy recently, but that's mostly behind me now," Grinham senior concluded.

Vanessa Atkinson, an 11-times Dutch national champion, strengthened local interest in the last sixteen when she beat England's Tania Bailey 12-10, 8-11, 11-5, 11-5. It was another repeat of a British Open clash - and again the Dutch star, seeded 11, maintained the upper hand over Bailey, a former world No4, to record a comfortable win.

"She's amazing - she's like a war-horse, she keeps coming back," said the former world champion who is originally from The Hague, but now living in Leeds in the UK. "Tania was so much stronger than she was last week - she's so gutsy."

Bailey is on a comeback trail after undergoing knee surgery in May. "Her current world ranking of 22 doesn't reflect Tania's true status. She was definitely the one in the draw that nobody in the top 16 wanted to meet," added Atkinson.

"It was a good start to get into the tournament - I'm glad it didn't go to five."

There were two notable upsets earlier in the day when France's Camille Serme and Egypt's Engy Kheirallah both removed seeded opponents.

Kheirallah, a former world No12 now ranked 23, battled for 76 minutes to oust New Zealander Jaclyn Hawkes, the 14th seed, 12-10, 11-7, 11-13, 11-8.

It was the 27-year-old's best performance since clinching the decider when Egypt shocked England in the world team championship final last December.

"I'm so happy to win - she's a great retriever and she's tall so it's hard to play her. It's my best result since the world teams," admitted the Cairo-based Egyptian.

"I haven't been doing extremely hard training since the worlds. I live in Cairo now, and it's hard without your coach and your club team-mates (in Alexandria). But I play really well in training - the problem is in my head. I needed to win one tough match - and this was it.

"I don't care about the rankings - I used to think about them too much, and look at where I was and who was above me. But all it did was put pressure on me. Now I go to a tournament and, win or lose, it doesn't matter. I've beaten players in the top ten before, so I know I can do it," added Kheirallah.

Camille Serme achieved her first win over Isabelle Stoehr in this year's French national championship final - and recorded the first WISPA Tour victory over her compatriot today, beating the No9 seed 11-8, 11-13, 11-7, 11-7 in 46 minutes.

"It's a shame we played in the first round together - but it's the worlds and I wanted to win," said Serme, the 20-year-old world No18 from Creteil. "I didn't think about it being all-French, I just wanted to play my best.

"When I was coming back in the second, I thought I should make a big push to win it as that would be tough mentally for her. I didn't do it, so I just told myself to forget about it and come out fighting for the next game."

A disconsolate Stoehr, ranked 12 in the world, admitted that her younger compatriot deserved to win: "She was better today, she's confident. I don't have the fighting spirit anymore - and I'm trying to deal with this. Camille is good for French women's squash - it's good to have someone pushing me in France. She has more fight in her," conceded the 30-year-old, winner of a record 11 national titles.

There was double Dutch interest in the final match of the day when defending champion Nicol David, the Amsterdam-based defending champion from Malaysia, beat the Dutch number four Orla Noom 11-6, 11-4, 11-6.

It was morale-boosting win for the world number one who suffered a rare quarter-final defeat in last week's British Open.

"After losing like that, you have to put it behind you and work on what you have to do - and go for it," said the top seed after her straightforward victory. "I knew I had to make sure I played a solid game.

"It's nice to be here in Amsterdam, with the feel of a local crowd. It gives you an extra boost," added the favourite.

Mexico's Samantha Teran is another player who credits Amsterdam for boosting her game. The 15th seed from Mexico City survived a close battle against England's Suzie Pierrepont, winning 6-11, 11-0, 11-7, 11-7 in 48 minutes.

"That was very tough. Suzie is very difficult - she's very tall and very strong, and she hits the ball well," said Teran. "But I'm happy to win - I did what I needed to do. Winning the second game 11-0 gave me confidence, and took it away from her.

"I've been away from Mexico for more than two months - longer than ever before - and been based here in Amsterdam for the past five weeks. I like being here, where I can play with top players like Nicol (David) and Aisling (Blake) and train with Liz Irving. I wanted to win today so that I can play on the all-glass court tomorrow. And it's great, too, that my parents arrived here yesterday."

1st round:
[1] Nicol David (MAS) bt Orla Noom (NED) 11-6, 11-4, 11-6 (26m)
Camille Serme (FRA) bt [9] Isabelle Stoehr (FRA) 11-8, 11-13, 11-7, 11-7 (46m)
[5] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) bt Delia Arnold (MAS) 11-4, 11-3, 11-4 (19m)
Engy Kheirallah (EGY) bt [14] Jaclyn Hawkes (NZL) 12-10, 11-7, 11-13, 11-8 (76m)
[4] Alison Waters (ENG) bt [Q] Sarah Kippax (ENG) 11-6, 11-3, 11-4 (26m)
[16] Raneem El Weleily (EGY) bt [Q] Joshna Chinappa (IND) 11-5, 11-4, 11-6 (16m)
[7] Madeline Perry (IRL) bt [Q] Latasha Khan (USA) 11-3, 11-3, 9-11, 11-5 (31m)
[13] Rebecca Chiu (HKG) bt [Q] Amanda Sobhy (USA) 2-11, 11-9, 11-3, 6-11, 11-6 (41m)
[15] Samantha Teran (MEX) bt Suzie Pierrepont (ENG) 6-11, 11-0, 11-7, 11-7 (48m)
[6] Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) bt [Q] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 11-7, 11-9, 9-11, 11-4 (44m)
[11] Vanessa Atkinson (NED) bt Tania Bailey (ENG) 12-10, 8-11, 11-5, 11-5 (39m)
[3] Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt Dominique Lloyd-Walter (ENG) 11-5, 11-7, 11-4 (26m)
[12] Annie Au (HKG) bt [Q] Donna Urquhart (AUS) 8-11, 11-9, 11-2, 11-3 (36m)
[8] Laura Massaro (ENG) bt [Q] Joey Chan (HKG) 11-6, 11-6, 11-8 (28m)
[10] Kasey Brown (AUS) bt [Q] Aisling Blake (IRL) 11-7, 6-11, 11-6, 7-11, 11-1 (51m)
[2] Natalie Grinham (NED) bt Lauren Briggs (ENG) 11-1, 11-3, 11-5 (21m)