Grinham Sisters Set Up Dream World Open Semi

25 Sep 09

Sisters Rachael Grinham and Natalie Grinham will meet in a dream semi-final of the Forexx Women's World Open Squash 2009 after surviving contrasting quarter-finals in the $118,000 WISPA World Tour event today at Frans Otten Stadion in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam-based favourite Nicol David, the defending champion from Malaysia, will take on England's Alison Waters, the No4 seed, in the other semi-final.

Dutch squash star Natalie Grinham was in dazzling form in the opening match when she despatched England's world No9 Laura Massaro in straight games to ensure local interest in the last four of the sport's premier women's event in the Netherlands capital.

Beaten by the 25-year-old from Lancashire in their previous two meetings, second seed Grinham was on top of her game as she powered to an 11-6, 11-4, 11-6 victory in 30 minutes.

"I thought I played well," said the younger Grinham, a former Australian who became a Netherlands national last year after marrying three-time Dutch national champion Tommy Berden, now the promoter of the 2009 World Open.

"Laura's a really good player - but maybe she didn't play as well as she could. I just hope I can keep that kind of focus - I didn't do much wrong.

"I want to win 3/0 whoever I play - I'll do whatever it takes," explained the world No3, who has been the event's runner-up three times since 2004.

When asked about the role she plays in helping her husband run the event, she replied: "I kind of dictate to him what he ought to do. He's done a good job, I can't complain!"

Massaro, who reached a career-high world No7 earlier this year, was stunned by her defeat: "She was way too good for me today - it was pretty flawless. I feel that if she'd been slightly off, I could have taken it - but she wasn't. I couldn't play the way I wanted to.

"That's definitely the best she's ever played against me - and I'm not playing poorly. In fact I don't think I've been beaten 3/0 for a long time."

Next on court was older sister Rachael, the top-ranked Australian who arrived in Amsterdam fresh from winning the British Open crown for the fourth time.

The third-seeded world No4 faced Egypt's Omneya Abdel Kawy, the No6 seed - and for the second time in 24 hours dropped the first two games.

But after transforming her game, and playing a succession of lob shots which ultimately wore down the 24-year-old from Cairo, Grinham celebrated a popular 6-11, 7-11, 11-1, 11-6, 11-8 win in 52 minutes.

Asked to comment on the much-hoped-for semi-final line-up against her sister - which would be the pair's 24th international clash - Rachael said: "It's good that one of us will get to the final - and at least I can relax, and if I lose it's not too bad.

"It looks as if she's in the best form she's ever been in!"

Commenting on the match, the 2007 world champion added: "My lobs got better and better - and as they went on, she was tiring, it was wearing her down, and she was making errors.

"She always wants to attack if you put it short - she's always on the T, or a bit in front of it, so it's better to keep her at the back."

It was an almost inconsolable Abdel Kawy that later commented on her defeat: "I don't know what happened in the third - I was winning easily in the first two and in the third I was trying not to think too much. Then I went blank - I couldn't think, or play.

"In the fourth she got more confident. In the fifth, there was only a point between us, but I was leading. I was rushing to win and she was playing the right game against me - lobbing the ball. I still think I played well - it's more about confidence, and not thinking about the fact that it's the World Open and the chance of getting to the semi-finals," added the former world junior champion.

"But I wish her all the luck tomorrow. When you lose, you learn something. But it's hard."

England's Alison Waters avenged a defeat by fellow Briton Madeline Perry in last week's British Open to claim a place in the semi-finals for the first time in her career.

The 25-year-old world number five, seeded four, confidently took the first two games and had a match ball in the third before seventh seed Perry took the game to reduce the deficit.

But Waters came back even stronger - dropping just two points in the fourth to record an 11-5, 11-8, 11-13, 11-2 victory in 50 minutes.

"Madeline did really well in the third, but I got a good start in the fourth," said the Londoner. "I hoped the third might have taken it out of her.

"I feel good about beating her - especially after last week. I watched the video of that match, and it really helped me. I had a game-plan and stuck to it.

"I was really determined to do well today."

Perry, who reached the British Open final last week for the first time, admitted that was disappointed with her start - and acknowledged that she had also watched a video of their British Open clash.

"But it didn't do me any good," said the 32-year-old from Banbridge, near Belfast.

In tomorrow's other semi-final, Waters will face Nicol David after the world number one from Malaysia beat England's Jenny Duncalf - recovering from the loss of the second game, and a 2-6 deficit in the third, to win 11-6, 11-13, 11-6, 11-7.

Incredibly, it was the longest match of the day - and Duncalf, who entered the court 16-0 down on their career head-to-head tally, kept the Malaysian star on court for 57 minutes.

David - who this month began her 41st month as world number one, thus becoming the third longest holder of the position in history - suffered a shock quarter-final defeat in last week's British Open, and is clearly keen to put this behind her and win her fourth world title in five years.

"I knew she'd come up strong tonight - I had to play my best game to beat her," said 26-year-old David. "I knew I had to keep pushing all the way through.

"When you're 6-2 down, you have to make sure you don't let your opponent get any further. I'm really pleased with my game to come back and win 3/1.

"What happened last week made a difference in this match. That game will definitely spur me on in tomorrow's semi-final."

Duncalf, the reigning British national champion ranked six in the world, was unable to explain what happened in the third game: "I felt good for the first two and a half games. I can't remember thinking 'I'm 6-2 up'.

"But the lights went out. I don't know how to explain that," said the downcast 26-year-old from Harrogate in Yorkshire.

"Nicol's a great player - but I felt I matched her for a lot of the match, and that gives me a lot of confidence.

Quarter-finals:
[1] Nicol David (MAS) bt [5] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) 11-6, 11-13, 11-6, 11-7 (57m)
[4] Alison Waters (ENG) bt [7] Madeline Perry (IRL) 11-5, 11-8, 11-13, 11-2 (50m)
[3] Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt [6] Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) 6-11, 7-11, 11-1, 11-6, 11-8 (52m)
[2] Natalie Grinham (NED) bt [8] Laura Massaro (ENG) 11-6, 11-4, 11-6 (30m)