A long last day at Victoria

2nd November 2011

First Quarter-Finalists decided ...

There may have been less matches at Rotterdam's Victoria Club on day six of the World Open Squash 2011, but it proved to be the longest day so far as a series of marathon matches were played out in the first part of the last sixteen round of the men's and women's competitions.

Read on to see how it all happened ...

Teran takes out Third seed Grinham

Day six of the World Open Squash 2011 at Rotterdam's Victoria Squash opened up with the biggest upset yet as Mexico's Samantha Teran, seeded fourteen, beat Rachael Grinham, the Australian who was champion in 2007 and was seeded three here.

There was no sign of what was to come as Grinham eased through the first game, but Teran's hard-hitting game seemed to neutralise Grinham's slower, more measured game as the Mexican totally dominated the next two games, denying her attacking opportunities and catching her out with drops and boasts of her own.

Could she keep it up was the question, and she did for the early part of the fourth, staying ahead as the rallies grew longer and more tense.

A Grinham lob at the end of a long rally sailed out to bring up 10/8 matchball, and Teran was denied what, from my viewpoint, looked an obvious stroke. Grinham levelled, with Teran looking for the easy way to win as she twice stopped looking for strokes which weren't there.

At 11/10 though Grinham put the ball back over her own head for an obvious stroke that was given, and we had a Mexican quarter-finalist.

Pallikal powers past Kanzy

With two players who caused upsets yesterday meeting, and unexpected place in the World Open quarter-finals was on offer for Dipika Pallikal or Kanzy El Dafrawy, and it was the higher-ranked Indian who took advantage, taking the lead in all three games and never letting her Egyptian get a real foothold in the game.

It the early stages of the third it looked as though Kanzy's more physical style was beginning to unsettle Dipika, but she held her composure and closed out the match with aplomb.
Palmer keeps his nerve

In a match worthy of two former world champions who have both spent ten unbroken years in the world's top ten, Australia's David Palmer emerges as the winner over Frenchman Thierry Lincou in front of a packed crowd on Victoria's show court.

Palmer twice took the lead, but Lincou levelled and opened up an 8/5 lead in the decider. In a tense, tense finish it was Palmer who took the final few points as the crowd rose to applaud two warriors of the game.

Darwish too strong

The final match of the afternoon session saw Karim Darwishthrough to a quarter-final meeting with Palmer as the third-seeded Egyptian got the better of two relatively tough games against Spaniard Borja Golan before cruising through the third.

Massaro and Duncalf guarantee English semi-finalist ...

The evening session resumed with England's in-form Laura Massaro against Hong Kong left-hander Annie Au.

Celebrating her 28th birthday today, Massaro has just moved up to a career best number four after her success in the US Open last month. But Au is no mug, so to speak, she's just moved up to a best-ever seventh in the rankings after reaching the final of the Monte Carlo Classic.

The match was as close as those stats would suggest, with the Englishwoman just managing to stay ahead for most of the first before pulling away at the end, then having to fight back after being a couple of points behind for most of the second.

The hot bouncy conditions and court probably suited Massaro's more conventional game more than Au's flick boast drop and lob variety but still, each point had to be worked for by whoever ended up winning it.

As she did in the first, Massaro pulled clear from 6-all in the third to reach her third World Open quarter-final. She's never been further, but on current form, and ranking, more beckons.

An English women's semi-finalist was guaranteed when Jenny Duncalf reaped the benefit of a tough opening pair of games against Joelle King.

The hard-hitting Kiwi matched Duncalf, the second seed, all the way for half an hour, but from the outset of the third the Englishwoman took control, taking the last two games for the loss of just four points.

Matthew survives Shorbagy assault, Barker leaves it late ...

Well, we already had one mammoth match today, and the penultimate pairing of the day delivered another just as long, just as intense, as defending champion Nick Matthew survived a ferocious attack - purely in squash terms - from Mohamed El Shorbagy.
It was a different type of game from the Palmer/Lincou affair, faster and generally more attacking, but the rallies on the hot, bouncy court surrounded by Dutch fans gasping at some of the shots and the retrieving on display, often went on, and on, always at high pace, always waiting for one or other to explode with the next attack.

After four games that took 88 minutes were shared, as Matthew took a 3/0 lead in the decider one spectator murmured "he's gone." Gone or not, Matthew extended the lead, and Shorbagy had no choice but to accept his fate as the world champion held on to his crown, for now, easing to an 11/1 win in a match that had been anything but easy.

Just as in the women's draw, an English semi-finalist was assured when Peter Barker, the seventh seed, beat Cameron Pilley in a marathon straight-games win that ended well past midnight. The Englishman got the better of two well contested first games, a series of lets and long rallies making the second game alone last over 50 minutes, before taking the third with more ease.

The last sixteen rounds conclude on Thursday on the glass court at the New Luxor Theatre.