Jenny Duncalf fought back from a two game deficit to make her second successive semi-final in last night’s WSA Cayman Islands World Open quarter-final round.
Her compatriot, No.4 seed Alison Waters claimed a scrappy first game in which both players struggled to find and maintain a decent length. It was the second game which really set the stage for the gripping contest between the two friends. A cat-and-mouse affair saw Duncalf come from behind to take the lead late in the game, but Waters regained her composure to force the tie-break. The pair then continued to mix enthusiastic attacking play with a number of unforced errors as the score rose, with neither player able to finish of the other.
Waters finally took the game 19-17 to extend her lead, but Duncalf had found a foothold in the match and she stormed back onto court to dominate the proceedings for the next two games, not allowing Waters a look-in.
Little separated the pair in the deciding game, reflected in the 9-all score-line. Two exciting rallies went in favour of Duncalf, the last a tin from a laboured movement by Waters, and ensuring that the lower seed makes her first WSA semi-final of the year – her first since last year’s World Open!
“It was a bit scrappy at the start, but in the second I was starting to feel much better,” Duncalf explains to SquashSite post-match. “And even though I lost it I felt the momentum had turned towards me.
“I’m delighted to win, a bit disappointed for Al too, but not that much! We all love playing here, the whole vibe is great and it makes you feel so relaxed on court – and it wasn’t too hot tonight which was a bonus!”
In a repeat of last year’s Rotterdam World Open final, Duncalf will now play Nicol David in the semi’s, following the Malaysian’s four-game victory over 2008 World Open semi-finalist Madeline Perry.
The six-time World Open champion made a quick start to the match, leaping to a strong lead before finishing off the first game with Perry barely able to register a threat. The Irishwoman settled more in the second however, causing problems for the top seed but not quite finding the finishing quality. The third was similar but Perry stormed through to claim a narrow game in her favour, before David returned to up the pace even further and close out the win.
Laura Massaro doubled England’s hopes of a first World Open title since 1999, after coming from a game down againstLow Wee Wern to make her debut in the semi-final of the event. The No.3 seed got off to a sluggish start against the young Malaysian, who had to pull out of last month’s Hong Kong Open with an injury.
Leg strapped up, Wee Wern sprung to an early lead in the match, doing just enough to stay ahead of her opponent and closed out a competitive first game. Massaro returned on court with a definite strategy, and forced boasts and drops to the front of the court in order to test the injured leg of the seventh seed. This proved enough for the Englishwoman to see off the win against Wee Wern, and she took the following three games in a much more comfortable fashion.
“She gets so many balls back, whenever I play her I have to try to keep my aggression up, that’s where all the “cmons” help,” explained Massaro.
“I’ve become better at dealing with the pressure of being expected to win over the last couple of years and that’s helped me improve my consistency and my ranking.
“I’m so pleased to make a first World Open semi-final, I’ll just take each match as it comes now.”
Massaro will now face Raneem El Weleily in the semi-final, in a third versus second seed battle. The Egyptian played out the quickest match of the evening as she faced four-time World Open runner-up Natalie Grinham.
With both happy to play short, attacking rallies, the points amassed quickly in the opening game through a combination of efficient winners and tins in equal measure. El Weleily broke the mid-game deadlock to extend a lead to 10, and it was only a matter of time before the world No.2 found that last winner to finish the game off.
The second was an even closer contest, with the players level up to 9-all before the Dutchwoman squandered her chance to level with a tin and a stroke in favour of her opponent. Despite another strong start to the match Grinham was ultimately unable to prevent El Weleily from hitting her winning shots, and the tie ended in just 26-minutes with the Egyptian reaching her first World Open semi-final.
“I played better today than I did yesterday, and I’m thankful for that,” said Raneem. “Natalie has great racket skills and it’s always difficult trying to stay focused and consistent when you play her so I’m pleased I managed to do that today.
“I’m really happy to make a first semi-final and I hope I can play as well tomorrow and make the final.
“I haven’t seen much of the island so far, but I’ve seen lots of photos of the other girls with the dolphins. I haven’t been to see them yet, and I hope I get the chance to!”
The Cayman Islands World Open continues to be broadcast live on SquashTV, with the semi-finals beginning at 7pm local time (00:00 GMT)
20:00 –  Nicol David (MAS) v  Jenny Duncalf (ENG)
19:00 –  Raneem El Weleily (EGY) v  Laura Massaro (ENG)
 Nicol David (MAS) bt  Madeline Perry (IRL) 11-3, 11-7, 9-11, 11-3 (51m)
 Jenny Duncalf (ENG) bt  Alison Waters (ENG) 7-11, 17-19, 11-5, 11-4, 11-9 (77m)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) bt  Low Wee Wern (MAS) 8-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-5 (46m)
 Raneem El Weleily (EGY) bt  Natalie Grinham (NED) 11-9, 11-9, 11-7 (26m)
More photos from SquashSite here!