5:54 pm
10 Dec 2023

Rachael Grinham Cruises To Hurghada Success

13 Jul 2004

Australia's world No2 Rachael Grinham made up for the disappointment of finishing as runner-up in 2003 when she cruised to a straight games victory in the final of the Women's Hurghada International to claim her 15th WISPA World Tour title in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada in Egypt.

Cairo-based Grinham, 27, from Toowoomba in Queensland, had only suffered two WISPA Tour defeats this year, but local fans hoped that Egyptian star Omneya Abdel Kawy might be able to add to that tally in the Hurghada final.

Whilst third seed Kawy, the 18-year-old world junior champion from Cairo, had upset the No2 seed in a marathon semi-final, her opponent hadn't come close to dropping a game in reaching the final. Grinham admitted, however, that the extreme heat, even in the cooler evenings, might present problems in an extended match – something Kawy knew all about, having played for 80 and 77 minutes in the quarters and semis!

Despite the vocal support of a packed crowd surrounding the open air court sited on the small Hurghada island, and the knowledge that Egyptian President Mubarak was watching the match live on TV in Cairo, Kawy was unable to do more than dent the Australian's defences.

Grinham had played quite defensively in earlier rounds, working the hot lively ball and awaiting impatient or lax strokes from her opponents. As the final unfolded, however, she showed no more willingness to trade punches at the front as well as the back of the court. The Egyptian was given limited chances to flaunt her "hold" shot at the front, and the red-topped Grinham's sheer nimbleness was enough to get her off most hooks when her opponent got forward. Deceptively fast herself, Abdel Kawy was forced to turn and chase as the Grinham wrist and length combined to good effect.

Still short of her nineteenth birthday, and sporting a white bandanna for the final, the young pretender was playing with assuredness despite the pressure of the occasion, and even raced three points ahead in the first game. But that was the high point - as Grinham's tight control soon began to tempt the local favourite into indiscreet attempts to win rallies. Intense talking from coach Ahmed El Batrany between games couldn't change the flow and this became the continuing story of the whole match - competitive but not close.

The match ended after 41 minutes, with the score at 9-5 9-1 9-4, as Kawy's final attempt at a nick ended up glancing the top of the tin.

Grinham clearly regarded the whole event as a difficult mission, despite not dropping a game. "Omneya is just too dangerous at the front, so I played it longer and waited for mistakes," Grinham said later. "She is improving all the time and is becoming a bigger threat."

A dejected Kawy told the crowd: "I am sorry I didn't win. I tried very hard and I promise I will do better next time." But the teenager had nothing to be upset about, having yet again proved her credentials as a real burgeoning force at the very highest level.

After competing in the Brunei International at the end of the month, Grinham will try to complete an Egyptian "home" double at the Heliopolis Open staged at her base club in four weeks' time. "I am really looking forward to playing in front of the Heliopolis members who have been so good to me," she concluded, before contemplating driving back there across the desert in the morning.