Melbourne’s Melody Francis underlined her massive improvement over the past 12 months when she claimed her second consecutive title on the women’s squash tour with a four-game win over Kiwi Amanda Landers-Murphy in the final of the South Australian Open on Sunday.
It was only a month ago that Melody Francis was stunned in the 1st round of the Black Knight Open in Perth at the hands of Korea’s eventual champion Ahn Eun Chan.
Since then it seems that Francis has found her best form. With victory this week at the South Australian Open she has now won 13 of her last 14 matches.
To capture her third title of the year though Francis didn’t have things all her own way at the tour 4 event in Adelaide. For a second week in a row she took out Scotland’s Lisa Aitken in the quarter finals, though this time Francis managed to subdue the Scottish number one in straight games as opposed to the fiver setter of last week.
In the semi final Francis came from behind to ease to victory over second seed Siti Munirah Jusoh of Malaysia. After Jusoh edged a long and close opening game, her energy seemed to fade. This may have been due to the second seed’s titantic battle over Samantha Davies in the quarter finals. Francis seized her opportunity and gradually ran away with victory to reach her third final in a row.
On the opposite side of the draw, two players in top form set up a repeat semi final showdown from last week.
Tesni Evans was getting better with each tournament, having reached a quarter final, a semi final and then her first tour final last week at the Millicent Open.
Amanda Landers-Murphy has had an equally successful last few weeks on the Australian tour. The 20 year old Kiwi has recorded three semi final finishes in a row. This week she made it four in a row when she stunned top seed and compatriot Kylie Lindsey in four games in the quarter final.
Evans reached her first tour final last week with victory over Landers-Murphy in the semi final. This time the tables were turned and Landers-Murphy secured victory with a solid four game win and a place in her first WISPA tour final.
The final was a high class match and Landers-Murphy proved that she was there to win when she eased to the opening game 11-5. Francis though has shown in the last few tournaments how much of an improvement to her game she has made since last year. She stormed back to take the second and third games. The fourth was tight all the way into the tie break. Francis’ greater experience saw her edge it 15-13 and claim the third title of her career.
“I have been working so hard and now I’m starting to see the results,” a delighted Francis said.
She now ties with Lisa Camilleri and Lauren Briggs for the most titles in 2011.
Francis now heads home to Melbourne for the Victorian Open, which begins on July 10, followed by the Tasmanian, Queensland and NSW Opens, leading into the Australian Open in August.
On this form, her title haul could very well increase.
 M Francis (AUS) bt  A Landers-Murphy (NZL) 5-11 11-9 11-5 15-13 (41m)
 A Landers-Murphy (NZL) bt  T Evans (WAL) 11-5 12-14 11-5 11-6 (44m)
 M Francis (AUS) bt  S Munirah Jusoh (MAS) 11-13 11-7 11-3 11-5 (39m)
 A Landers-Murphy (NZL) bt  K Lindsey (NZL) 14-16 11-3 11-9 11-7 (42m)
 T Evans (WAL) bt  M Marshall (AUS) 9-11 11-9 11-6 11-6 (32m)
 M Francis (AUS) bt  L Aitken (SCO) 11-8 11-6 12-10 (27m)
 S Munirah Jusoh (MAS) bt  S Davies (AUS) 7-11 8-11 12-10 13-11 11-6 (59m)
 K Lindsey (NZL) bt V Pickard (AUS) 6-11 11-6 11-9 11-6 (33m)
 A Landers-Murphy (NZL) bt C Nunn (AUS) 11-5 11-8 11-6 (29m)
 M Marshall (AUS) bt S J Cope (AUS) 11-3 11-2 11-2 (14m)
 T Evans (WAL) bt  S Cardwell (AUS) 12-10 3-11 11-7 11-13 12-10 (70m)
 M Francis (AUS) bt J Brown (AUS) 11-2 11-1 11-4 (14m)
 L Aitken (SCO) bt J Burnard (AUS) 11-0 11-1 11-1 (11m)
 S Davies (AUS) bt P Devi (MAS) 9-11 11-9 11-9 11-9 (29m)
 S Munirah Jusoh (MAS) bt A Kushartani (AUS) 11-9 11-9 11-4 (21m)