Veteran Grinham Leads Australia To Early Doubles Upset At Birmingham 2022
5 Aug 2022
Australian mixed doubles pairing Rachael Grinham and Zac Alexander put in a fine performance to surprise higher-seeded home hopes Georgina Kennedy and Patrick Rooney as the Commonwealth Games mixed doubles competition resumed, while the men's and women's doubles competitions also got underway.
24 hours earlier, Kennedy captured headlines when she became the first Englishwomen to win a Commonwealth Games singles gold. Not long afterwards, she faced the tough proposition of three doubles matches!
After Kennedy and partner Patrick Rooney beat Maltese siblings Lijana and Kijan Sultana in straight games in round one of the mixed doubles, the 5/8 seeds took on 9/16 seeds Grinham and Alexander in their second round match just two hours later.
Australia's Opening Ceremony flagbearer Grinham, 45, a mixed doubles gold medallist in 2014 and a women's doubles gold medallist in 2006, and 2018 men's doubles gold medallist Zac Alexander got off to a challenging start when the English pair took a 5-1 lead.
Grinham, who is competing in her sixth Commonwealth Games, and Alexander then put together a brilliant scoring run as the experienced duo came back to take the first game 11-8 and then won the match with an 11-6 in the second.
Afterwards, Grinham said: "That was really good, especially after the start that we had. England got away to a blistering start and we had to regroup, hang in there and weather it. Pulling back that first game was crucial for us."
Alexander added a congratulations to Kennedy for her win yesterday and revealed that he and his partner had been secretly supporting Kennedy through her gold-medal-winning run in the hopes that it would hamper her doubles preparation.
Elsewhere in the mixed doubles, married couple Donna and Greg Lobban will go head to head for Australia and Scotland tomorrow after round two wins. Australia's defending mixed doubles champions Donna Lobban and Cameron Pilley overcame stubborn resistance from Indian duo Joshna Chinappa & Harinder Pal Sandhu, while Scotland's Greg Lobban and partner Lisa Aitken breezed past Marlene West and Cameron Stafford of the Cayman Islands.
"It doesn't happen often, that a wife plays a husband, but [Lisa and I] are just treating it as a squash match and, as long as we win, we'll still be married tomorrow!" Greg Lobban joked afterwards.
For New Zealand, Joelle King put the disappointment of her bronze medal defeat in the singles to the back of her mind as she and fellow defending 2018 women's doubles champion Amanda Landers-Murphy beat Guyana's Mary Fung-A-Fat and Ashely Khalil 2/0, before the 33-year-old downed Pakistan's Faiza Zafar and Nasir Iqbal in the mixed doubles alongside last night's newly crowned singles champion Paul Coll.
In the women's quarter-final, King and Landers-Murphy will face Kennedy and Lucy Turmel of England.
Despite the disappointment of her defeat earlier in the day, Kennedy made a strong return to action in the evening session alongside Turmel, as both of England's women's teams progressed to the quarter-finals along with mixed doubles pairing Alison Waters and Adrian Waller.
Kennedy said afterwards: "Lucy really helped me bring the energy that I needed to bring. I think it's going to be a big mental battle tomorrow."
Today also saw the final involvement of Indian 14-year-old sensation Anahat Singh in main Games, after she and Sunanya Kuruvilla lost to Australia's Grinham and Lobban in the women's doubles.
Nine matches were played today in the opening round of the men's doubles draw. While the majority of the seeded players were not involved after receiving byes, there was still plenty of entertainment to be had, with Kiwi brothers Lwamba and Temwa Chileshe entertaining the crowd in their win over 2/0 win over Papua New Guinea's Feonor Siaguru and Madako Suari, while Malta's Niall Engerer and Kijan Sultana - who were opponents in the first round of the singles draw, where Engerer emerged victorious - and Christopher Binnie and Julian Morrison of Jamaica came from behind to beat the Cayman Islands and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, respectively.