Kasey on Fire!
No one thought this match would turn out the way it did. At the most, we predicted Kasey would take a game off the recently crowned Irish & Australian Open Champion. Boy, we were wrong! It turned out to be the longest match of the day.
In the first game, Kasey trailed rather badly… her footwork erratic, and her shots, very loose. She did play some amazing nicks near the end but Madeline wrapped the game up in 9 minutes, 11-5. The second set started off in similar fashion to the first, but Kasey seemed more fierce in her attacks and was itching for some points. Both girls were hitting it hard and it ended with a loud exclamation in disbelief to the big guy in the sky by Kasey as she lost 6-11 to the Irish lass.
In the third, Kasey came back defying everyone’s expectations when she finally decided to stop scrambling around and held her ground. At 3-7 down, she caught up to 8-8. Australia’s last hope for a medal in the women’s was not to be put down by some calls favouring the Irish, instead, she turned up the heat and kept at Madeline’s heels. It was a really tight finish with both girls running into each other at every corner. Stroke after stroke were awarded to both the girls and at 12-12, Kasey was awarded with the last one for the game. A distracted Madeline then tinned the shot, and it was Kasey’s game at 14-12.
The fourth saw Kasey speeding off to a good lead, she was 4-1 up before Madeline took the lead. A very determined Kasey picked up steam again at 5-5 and went for the kill. The pressure and the intensity of Kasey’s game caused Madeline to make some unforced errors, allowing the Aussie to take a 9-5 lead. Kasey was clearly dominating the space and was not allowing Madeline to play her game, leading 10-8. It was lets after lets before Madeline fought back for a point before conceding at 11-9 when Kasey ended the game with a unbelievable dead ball!
Madeline seemed a little winded in the decider and it didn’t help that Kasey was attacking with lobs to the back. A few failed backhand volleys by Madeline allowed Kasey an early lead into the game; 3-0. Kasey’s shots were all coming in very hard and fast but Madeline finally caught up at 6-6 when she was awarded a stroke. After that it was point for point, with a questionable call by the referees which allowed Kasey to lead 10-8. Again, as with the previous set, Madeline caught up at 10-10. It could have gone either way but Kasey emerged victorious and with fist pumped up in the air, she carries the Aussie flag into the semi-finals tomorrow with a 12-10 win in the last set.
“She came out firing at the start,” said Brown, who beat Perry in a 100-minute marathon in last month’s Women’s World Open in Egypt. “But it was a matter of sticking to my game-plan – of being positive.”
“I’m feeling at the top of my game at the moment – and I’m as fit as I’ve ever been. I’m playing better than I’ve ever done before,” added the New York-based world No8.”
Brown agreed that her surprise world championship win over the Irish champion was “a real confidence-booster”.
On her appearance in the Games, Brown added: “It’s the biggest thing. I’m just so honoured to be part of the Australian team.”
A tearful Perry summed up her feeling in one word: “Devastated.”
She continued: “I felt so good up to 7-3 in the third.”
Always One Step Ahead
In the fastest game of the day, firm favourite Nicol David reached the semi-finals for the second successive time after beating England’s fifth seed Laura Massaro 11-5, 11-3, 11-7 – recovering from 6-4 down in the third game.
It was four years ago in Melbourne that the Malaysian, again the favourite, ended up by finishing in a disappointing fourth place – out of the medals.
“It feels so great to be in the semi-finals,” said the world number one from Penang. “I thought Laura was struggling a bit with the court conditions. I didn’t want to let her in – in the third she was quite strong.”
Asked how different things are this year, from 2006, David was quick to respond:
“I’ve learned so much in the last four years – trying to find myself. I have added a lot of things to my game.”
“It’s also knowing the players better. My approach to squash since then is so different – I had to fine-tune things.”
Massaro, ranked six places lower in the world list, was downcast:
“It’s disappointing. I just feel it was a hammering – especially in the first two games. I’ve done well against her in the past – and had some expectations.”
“She looked completely on it. I also think that’s the best she’s ever played against me – I just couldn’t get in front of her.”
“I was disappointed not to capitalise on my third game lead,” added the 26-year-old from Preston. “But I always feel I play well for England.”
In the semi-finals tomorrow…
Women’s semi-final line-up:
 Nicol David (MAS) v  Kasey Brown (AUS)
 Jenny Duncalf (ENG) v  Alison Waters (ENG)
Men’s semi-final line-up:
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v  Peter Barker (ENG)
 James Willstrop (ENG) v  Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS)
For more info, visit the WSF’s dedicated Commonwealth Games site www.cwgsquash.com