10:24 pm
20 May 2024

Grant Takes Greg In Major World Championship Upset

16 Oct 2008

England's Adrian Grant upset the form book in dramatic style in today's third round of the Hi-Tec World Open Squash Championships after saving three match balls to beat France's No2 seed Gregory Gaultier to reach the men's quarter-finals at the National Squash Centre at Sportcity in Manchester.

The world's leading players from more than 30 countries are competing in the Hi-Tec World Squash Championships - Manchester 2008, the first ever joint staging of the Men's World Open and Women's World Open in the UK.

"My best result by far," was how Grant described his sensational five-game upset over the Frenchman who was runner-up in the last two World Opens. The left-hander from London saved three game balls in the third game before taking a 2/1 lead in the match.

But Gaultier, the world No2 from Aix-en-Provence, struck back in the fourth to level the match for the loss of just a single point. It was nip and tuck throughout the decider before the match favourite reached match-ball at 10-8.

But Grant saved this, and two further match-balls, before clinching his career-best result by beating Gaultier 9-11, 12-10, 14-12, 1-11, 13-11 after 98 minutes.

"This is a massive step for me - definitely my best result by far," said the 28-year-old 14th seed. "His record here is unbelievable.

"He came out firing in the fourth - and, before I knew it, it was all over. But he's two in the world, so he must have felt the pressure towards the end," added the Leeds-based England international after his first ever win over the Frenchman.

It was a 'very, very upset' Gaultier that spoke to the press afterwards. "I lost my head. He played better - he's a much better player than me, that's it. Good luck to him."

When asked if it was true that the pair were good friends, the Frenchman replied: "Yes, but there are no friends on court."

Hopes of a completely unexpected all-English quarter-final were dashed in the final match of the day when Egypt's seventh seed Karim Darwish recovered from a game down to beat Gloucestershire's unseeded Alister Walker, based in Leeds, 9-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-8.

Englishman James Willstrop will be after revenge when he faces Australia's former world champion David Palmer in the quarter-finals.

Palmer, a two-time winner of the World Open title, was extended for 83 minutes by unseeded Englishman Daryl Selby before beating the world No36 from Essex 11-5, 11-13, 11-3, 12-10.

"It's pretty hard to believe he's 36 in the world," sighed Palmer afterwards. "It seems that all the young guys in the world have stepped up. It's been a great tournament for him."

In a re-match of the British Open final in May in Liverpool, where Palmer saved match balls in the final to take the title for a fourth time, the 32-year-old from Lithgow in New South Wales will face England's James Willstrop

The Yorkshireman had to play one of the rallies of his life to save a game-ball in the second before going on to stop Italian number one Davide Bianchetti 11-7, 13-11, 11-8 in 48 minutes.

"It's always good to get people off as quickly as possible in a tournament like this where there are so many matches," Willstrop, the England number one, explained. "It's extremely important not to waste energy."

When reminded that Palmer would be his next opponent, Willstrop said: "They don't come a lot bigger. It's never going to be easy, but I do urge the crowd to get behind me - it really does help!"

Malaysian favourite Nicol David cruised through to the last eight of the women's competition after beating Rebecca Chiu, the 13th seed from Hong Kong, 11-3, 11-8, 11-7 in just 24 minutes. It was David's 14th win in a row over her Asian rival since a shock defeat to Chiu in the Asian Games final six years ago.

In the biggest scoring match since the WISPA World Tour switched to Pro-Scoring (to 11 points per game) in July, Egypt's ninth seed Omneya Abdel Kawy upset England's Laura Lengthorn-Massaro, the eighth seed, 21-23, 19-17, 12-14, 11-6, 11-7 in 85 minutes.

But there were more significant upsets in the afternoon session - with mixed fortunes for New Zealanders: Unseeded Kiwi Jaclyn Hawkes began the second day of second round action with a stunning 11-5, 5-11, 11-8, 6-11, 11-8 defeat of Natalie Grainger, the fourth seed from the USA and a former world number one.

Later Ireland's 14th seed Madeline Perry shocked Shelley Kitchen, the sixth seed from Auckland, 11-5, 11-6, 11-2.

"I just can't believe it - I wasn't expecting to come out here today and win," admitted Hawkes. "It is definitely my best win ever - in fact every time I've played her before she's chopped me 3/0!

"I didn't go on expecting to beat the world No4 - I've never been near her before," added the UK-based 25-year-old from Auckland.

Hawkes has been working with new national coach Anthony Ricketts, the former world No3 from Australia, since July. "I did a lot of good work with Anthony in the summer. And it's good having him here - he just knows what to do.

"He gave me a game plan - and I stuck to it," added Hawkes, now in her first quarter-final of a major WISPA event.

Madeline Perry, a former world No6 fighting back up the rankings after suffering a serious head injury in a mugging attack in Milan exactly a year ago, was back to bner former best against Kitchen, the world No10.

"It's only over the last couple of months that I've started to feel back to normal - it all went pretty well," said the 31-year-old from Banbridge, near Belfast, in Northern Ireland. "What happened last year was pretty traumatic - getting up the rankings again is probably more difficult than it was the first time."

Men's 3rd round (lower half of draw):
[5] David Palmer (AUS) bt Daryl Selby (ENG) 11-5, 11-13, 11-3, 12-10 (83m)
[3] James Willstrop (ENG) bt Davide Bianchetti (ITA) 11-7, 13-11, 11-8 (48m)
[7] Karim Darwish (EGY) bt Alister Walker (ENG) 9-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-8 (61m)
[14] Adrian Grant (ENG) bt [2] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 9-11, 12-10, 14-12, 1-11, 13-11 (98m)

Women's 2nd round (top half of draw):
[1] Nicol David (MAS) bt [13] Rebecca Chiu (HKG) 11-3, 11-8, 11-7 (24m)
[9] Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) bt [8] Laura Lengthorn-Massaro (ENG) 21-23, 19-17, 12-14, 11-6, 11-7 (85m)
Jaclyn Hawkes (NZL) bt [4] Natalie Grainger (USA) 11-5, 5-11, 11-8, 6-11, 11-8 (41m)
[14] Madeline Perry (IRL) bt [6] Shelley Kitchen (NZL) 11-5, 11-6, 11-2 (34m)