8:50 pm
19 Jun 2024

Natalie Sets Up Grinham Showdown In Brunei

29 Jul 2004

There is unlikely to be as much riding on the sibling rivalry between Rachael Grinham and Natalie Grinham as there will be when the Australian sisters from Toowoomba in Queensland meet in tomorrow's semi-finals of the Women's Brunei International.

Top seed Rachael and third seed Natalie dropped just five points between them as cruised through their quarter-finals today in the Brunei capital Bandar Seri Begawan. And if world No2 Rachael can now defeat Natalie to reach the final on Saturday - thus avenging her loss to the younger world No5 last April - she will take over the world number one slot from Cassie Jackman, topping the WISPA world rankings for the first time.

Natalie fulfilled her part of the deal with a straightforward 9-3 9-0 9-0 victory over eighth seed Jenny Tranfield. The Englishwoman, coming back after an Achilles problem, couldn't cope with the front of court play of the Dutch-based Australian and went down in 21 minutes.

"I was a yard off the pace and she's on fire," said Tranfield. "I needed to be at my best to play the best but I need some more hard work on my way back."

Rachael took four minutes longer, but conceded one fewer point, in her 9-2 9-0 9-0 win over seventh seed Rebecca Macree, also from England.

Looking ahead to the semi-final, Natalie suggested that it will be her sister who is doing the worrying. "I'm not putting pressure on myself, I'm letting Rachael have it all. She knows what she has to do but I also need to win to get my ranking up there. I'm in the way now but I know she will take over soon."

Asked about how the unusual situation would affect their preparations, she added: "We are rooming together and we'll probably still practice together tomorrow. Mind you, I might start snoring tonight!"

The other semi-final is also predicted by the seedings, featuring second seed Vanessa Atkinson, from the Netherlands, and England's No4 seed Linda Elriani. In a repeat of last week's Malaysian Open final, Malaysia's Nicol David lost out again to Atkinson - but had the satisfaction of winning more than twice the number of points of any other quarter-final loser in Brunei as she went down 9-5 9-3 9-5.

Meanwhile, Elriani overcame fellow Englishwoman Fiona Geaves - who was clearly feeling the effects of her close encounter of the fifth game kind with Vicky Botwright 24 hours earlier. In fact Geaves provided the whole story of the 31-minute match in a couple of sentences afterwards.

"I think that's the best Linda has played for a long time," said Geaves after the 9-2 9-1 9-3 defeat. "Even if I'd been fully fresh, it still would have been difficult for me as she was very positive and moving really well. She picked up so much stuff and the longer the rallies went on the more I felt fatigued from yesterday," she summarised.