11:45 pm
24 May 2024

Natalie Delights Dutch Fans By Reaching World Open Final

26 Sep 2009

Dutch number one Natalie Grinham thrilled organisers and local fans by reaching the final of the Forexx Women's World Open Squash 2009 today in the Netherlands. The 31-year-old from Almere recovered from a game down to beat her Australian sister Rachael Grinham in the semi-finals of the $118,000 WISPA World Tour event at Frans Otten Stadion in Amsterdam.

In the much-hoped-for final, Grinham junior will meet defending champion Nicol David, after the Amsterdam-based world number one edged out England's Alison Waters in a closely-contested 62-minute battle in which the Malaysian also came back from a game behind.

Natalie Grinham, the world No3, is in the form of her life - and reached the semi-finals of the sport's premier women's event without dropping a game. But older sister Rachael, ranked one place below, took her place in the last four after surviving two demanding five-game encounters - in both cases fighting back from two games down.

But it was Grinham senior who took the early advantage, winning the first game after both players had game-balls.

Natalie turned on the style which produced the earlier 3/0 victories, however, and reasserted her authority on the match, ultimately coming through to win 11-13, 11-6, 11-6, 11-4 in 37 minutes. The success takes Natalie to the final for the fourth time since 2004.

"That must be the best thing ever - to be in the final of the World Open in your home country, surely?" said the event master of ceremonies to the winner immediately after the match.

"The only thing that would have been better would be to have met Rachael in the final tomorrow," responded Natalie, who lost to her sibling in the climax of the 2007 World Open in Madrid.

"I have the hardest time playing her - what do I do with the ball? She's a very unorthodox player so I don't know what she's going to do - she's always tricky," continued Grinham junior, the No2 seed.

"If I hadn't taken the second game, it would have been very difficult. I knew in the end she would tire - I knew I really had to push her - and I was feeling good physically.

"It's all about being focussed throughout the game - and in the first game it wasn't working!"

Would she watch the next semi-final, between event favourite Nicol David and fourth seed Alison Waters, asked the assembled media pack? "I might watch their game - but it's not going to change my game-plan."

It was the first defeat in eight matches for Rachael Grinham who arrived in Amsterdam fresh from winning the British Open crown for the fourth time.

"I didn't feel too bad to start with, and she made a few unforced errors in the beginning then relaxed a bit. After each rally, I was trying very hard to focus, to get my thoughts together, but it had been a long time since I had been in a final, and last week was pretty big for me, playing for the British Open title, and then this week, a couple of long five setters," said the 32-year-old Queenslander.

"I felt alright physically, but mentally, last week took a lot out of me probably.

"And it didn't help I was playing against Natalie today, because against anybody else, I don't know. I was trying to focus, but you make a few wrong shot choices, and you end up losing rally after rally."

Nicol David, the firm favourite who is bidding to become only the third player in history to win the title four times, was on the defensive from the outset as Waters harried the top seed and took the opening game for the loss of just four points.

Normal service was resumed in the second as David came back - but the third game was a real battle as the Londoner's confidence grew and Waters made the Malaysian run to all corners of the court.

Waters was the first to reach game ball at 10-9 - and two more went to the English underdog. But it was David who ultimately prevailed 15-13 - and in the hard-fought fourth it was the 26-year-old from Penang who reached match-ball first, with final success at the second attempt.

"She was so quick," said a jubilant David after her 4-11, 11-6, 15-13, 11-7 victory. "She's had some good result against the other girls and is clearly getting belief in herself - she just went for it!

"But I really wanted it badly," added the game's dominant force for the past three years - who lost her British Open crown last week. "I had to be really solid in my length - she's so dangerous.

"That's what squash is all about - just hanging in there. I didn't want to let go.

"I'm very pleased to win," said Nicol, now in the 55th Tour final of her career."

When asked about the final against the Dutch number one, David replied: "We have always had good games. It's going to be all-out tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it!"

Waters acknowledged that the match hinged on the third game: "I could have done with the third. That was the crucial one.

"I felt I had a chance. Maybe next time.

"I matched her all the way - it could have gone either way. It gives you the belief that the next time you could do it," added the 25-year-old world No5.

Semi-finals:
[1] Nicol David (MAS) bt [4] Alison Waters (ENG) 4-11, 11-6, 15-13, 11-7 (62m)
[2] Natalie Grinham (NED) bt [3] Rachael Grinham (AUS) 11-13, 11-6, 11-6, 11-4 (37m)