9:43 am
16 Apr 2024

Grinham Wins Historic World Open Title

27 Oct 2007

In tonight's historic final of the Madrid Women's World Open in the Spanish capital, Rachael Grinham beat Natalie Grinham in straight games in the first ever world final between two sisters.

It was the final day of action on the open-air all-glass court set in the Jardines del Cabo Noval, adjacent to the Palacio Real - in the first sports event ever to be held alongside Madrid's historic Royal Palace.

Rachael Grinham, the older of the pair by 14 months, has enjoyed sensational recent form - her appearance in the Madrid climax being her fifth WISPA World Tour final in a row and the 44th of her career. Last month, the 30-year-old Queenslander netted her third British Open crown after her first defeat of Malaysia's world number one Nicol David for more than two years.

Natalie Grinham, boasting her 25th Tour final appearance, had earlier admitted that her record three gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in her home country last year had been her 'ultimate goal'. But with a runner-up finish in both the 2004 and 2006 World Open finals, it was clear that the 29-year-old second seed was hoping that it would be 'third time lucky'.

Grinham senior took the opening game for the loss of only four points - but Natalie came back to take a 4-1, then 6-3, lead in the second. However, demonstrating the same form which has seen her win four of her previous five finals, Rachael charged back to take the game, and then the third, to win 9-4, 10-8, 9-2 in 47 minutes and claim her first World Open title.

"30 years old, and I've finally won my first world championship!" said Rachael to the packed and exuberant crowd at the presentations.

"It's been an awesome couple of months - I've been world number one and now I'm world champion," said the third seed, who has now increased her WISPA Tour haul to 27 titles.

"I was having a bit of a spiral downwards and over the summer put in a lot more training - and things started to go well," explained the senior Grinham, who has only lost one match in 21 since August when she won the Alexandria Sporting Club Open title in her adopted home country Egypt.

"Winning the British Open last month obviously gave me some confidence - and this will too."

When asked what her feelings were when she was behind in the second game, Rachael replied: "I wasn't thinking I was going to lose the game, or the match - just that I wanted to make her work!

"We know each others games so well, that when we play each other we're often quite hesitant when we make shots - trying to counter the response we're expecting.

"She made a lot of mistakes tonight that she wouldn't normally do.

"I wanted to win quite badly - the fact I was playing my sister didn't really matter!

"This was a championship I really wanted to win. And I am thrilled to have done it at last!"

Asked if she felt any sympathy for her sister, Rachael was quick to respond: "No! After all, she's got three Commonwealth Games gold medals!"

Natalie Grinham conceded that she was "not too disappointed to have lost" - then revealed that she had considered pulling out of the event at the beginning of the week after sustaining a wrist injury on the eve of the tournament.

"It eased off as the tournament developed - but I am disappointed that I couldn't play better tonight. I felt I played much better last night," said the 29-year-old, now based in the Netherlands.

"She played her game and didn't let me play mine. She's very fast - and when she gets the ball she does something with it," added Natalie. "But if I've got to lose to somebody, I'd rather it be her.

"I made a few errors - against her your shots need to be perfect, and mine weren't!

"But I'm really happy to see Rachael playing well again - she's the only player on the current Tour who can trick me."

When asked how she felt about playing in the first ever world final between two sisters, Natalie replied: "It's fantastic. Both of us being in the final, rather than one of us winning it, is almost perfect. Perfect would have been if I'd won it!"

After receiving her trophy, Rachael thanked the organisers and wished Madrid 16 well in its bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games.

Natalie added: "I hope you win the bid - and I hope Squash will also be in the Games. I won't be playing then, but I'll certainly come and watch."

[3] Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt [2] Natalie Grinham (AUS) 9-4, 10-8, 9-2 (47m)