10:51 pm
17 Apr 2024

Grainger Ousts Grinham In Qatar Breakthrough

2 Nov 2007

US champion Natalie Grainger celebrated her long-awaited 'world top three scalp' when she defeated Australia's world No2 Natalie Grinham in straight games in the quarter-finals of the Qatar Classic, the $77,000 women's WISPA Gold squash event in Doha, Qatar.

Egypt's Karim Darwish pulled off his second successive upset in the men's championship when he removed fifth-seeded Frenchman Thierry Lincou to reach the semi-finals of the $120,000 Super Series Platinum event.

It is more than a year - and 14 events - since Natalie Grinham last failed to reach a WISPA World Tour semi-final. But last week's Madrid World Open runner-up, unbeaten by Grainger for two and a half years, went down 9-7, 9-5, 9-4 in 35 minutes to the Pan American Games gold medallist in just 35 minutes.

The former world number one from Washington DC now faces England's Tania Bailey for her first appearance in a WISPA Gold final since April 2005. Bailey, the fourth seed from Lincolnshire, maintained the brave form she showed in Madrid to beat Vanessa Atkinson, the No8 seed from the Netherlands, 7-9, 10-9, 9-1, 9-2.

World number one Nicol David will face world champion Rachael Grinham in the other women's semi-final. David, the top seed from Malaysia, despatched England's 12th seed Alison Waters 9-7, 9-1, 9-2 while Australian Grinham claimed her 16th WISPA Tour match win in a row when she recovered from a game down to beat England's No6 seed Vicky Botwright 1-9, 9-5, 9-3, 9-5.

After upsetting second seed Ramy Ashour in the previous round, Karim Darwish took full advantage of his surprise appearance in the last eight by surviving an 85-minute marathon against Thierry Lincou to beat his French rival 11-5, 11-7, 8-11, 9-11, 11-9.

"It's always hard to play against Thierry, he is so strong mentally and physically," Darwish told www.squashsite.co.uk afterwards. "In the first two games I was confident, relaxed, and it was a bit comfortable. Then at 8-4 in the third, I starting thinking that I was winning, and that, I shouldn't be against somebody like Thierry!

"But then, after losing the third and the fourth, I reminded myself of the match against Shabana in Saudi, where I was up 2/0 and I lost. And I knew that I couldn't lose another match like that, it would have killed me.

"We both couldn't move at the end. It could have gone either way, but I'm so glad to be in the semis."

The 26-year-old from Cairo will take on Lincou's compatriot Gregory Gaultier, the British Open champion who survived another marathon against US Open champion Nick Matthew to beat the Englishman 11-10 (2-0), 9-11, 11-10 (2-0), 6-11, 11-9.

The other men's semi-final will feature Egypt's top seed Amr Shabana and third-seeded Australian David Palmer. In the only straight games win of the day in the men's event, world number one Shabana eased to an 11-8, 11-7, 11-7 win over unseeded Malaysian Ong Beng Hee while world champion Palmer toiled for 74 minutes to overcome Englishman James Willstrop 4-11, 11-7, 11-7, 3-11, 11-8.

"When you play James, you know you just have to play the ball and concentrate on your squash, and I think that for big fellows, and the way we move around the court, and the way we play, so early on the ball, we are moving around each other quite well!" explained Palmer later.

"It's for that kind of match that I keep on playing squash. There was no discussion, no blocking, no getting in the way of each other, no arguments with the referees, a good, fair and square match. And if I was James right now, I would be very, very unhappy."

Willstrop concurred: "I was so up for this match, I so wanted to win. I am really really, really, unhappy. I'm very disappointed, but all credit to both of us, it was a fair game of squash, no messing about.

"In an hour or two, I'll look at it in a positive vein, and take the positive out of it - I played well in patches. There is some good; I only lost 11-8 in the fifth. But it's a quarter final. I don't want to keep losing in quarter finals, I've got to learn, and learn, and learn how to win those matches!"

Men's quarter-finals:
[1] Amr Shabana (EGY) bt Ong Beng Hee (MAS) 11-8, 11-7, 11-7 (37m)
[3] David Palmer (AUS) bt [6] James Willstrop (ENG) 4-11, 11-7, 11-7, 3-11, 11-8 (74m)
[4] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [7] Nick Matthew (ENG) 11-10 (2-0), 9-11, 11-10 (2-0), 6-11, 11-9 (83m)
[9] Karim Darwish (EGY) bt [5] Thierry Lincou (FRA) 11-5, 11-7, 8-11, 9-11, 11-9 (85m)

Women's quarter-finals:
[1] Nicol David (MAS) bt [12] Alison Waters (ENG) 9-7, 9-1, 9-2 (36m)
[3] Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt [6] Vicky Botwright (ENG) 1-9, 9-5, 9-3, 9-5 (41m)
[4] Tania Bailey (ENG) bt [8] Vanessa Atkinson (NED) 7-9, 10-9, 9-1, 9-2 (52m)
[5] Natalie Grainger (USA) bt [2] Natalie Grinham (AUS) 9-7, 9-5, 9-4 (35m)