Natalie Grinham claimed the surprise result of the evening in yesterday’s second half of the WSA Cayman Islands World Open split round two draw.
The former world No.2 dispatched fifth seed Joelle King in a five-game cat-and-mouse thriller, in which neither player was able to settle into a consistent error-free performance.
The first four games were shared evenly between the pair, with King twice taking the lead against the four-time World Open runner-up. It was the experienced 11th seed who had the edge in the deciding game however, and Grinham said after the match, that she likes playing as the pressure-free underdog.
“That was very tough,” she said, “I’ve come here from freezing conditions and it’s soooo hot here!
“I made the World Open semis last year, but my results have been up and down, I’m just happy that I’m playing well. I like being the underdog, there’s no pressure on me then, so I’ll take that scalp.”
The Australian-born, Netherlands international will now face second seed Raneem El Weleily in tonight’s quarter-final round. The Egyptian got off to a shaky start against Indian favourite Dipika Pallikal, who took the first game. As both players continued to look for winners, the Egyptian’s ability began to show and she found her range increasing causing problems for the No.13 seed.
Weleily’s range improved, and Palikal found herself unable to combat the world No.2’s attacking range and lost the next three games by increasing margins.
“We have very similar games and it’s always close between us,” Weleily told SquashSite, “she had me all over the court for a while so I’m pleased to be able to come through to win it like that, it was far from an easy win.”
Low Wee Wern became the second Malaysian to reach the Cayman Islands World Open quarter-finals after a narrow three-game win over Kasey Brown. The Australian took a while to settle into the match, and will be haunted by the numerous unforced errors that plagued her for the first two games.
A more steady approach saw better results in the third game, and she held game ball to re-establish herself in the contest, but was unable to see it through as Wee Wern came back to force a tie-break. The Malaysian offered no second chances and finished off the game on her first opportunity to claim the straight-games win.
“It’s always tough against Kasey, she never gives up and was getting closer all the time,” the Malaysian told SquashSite.
“The pace seemed to get faster and faster but you can’t afford to slow down against any of the top girls.
“I’m used to playing in conditions like this, which might have been an advantage to me. I can play fine with my leg strapped [after a hamstring injury in Hong Kong], but I’m glad to be able to get through in three.”
Wee Wern will now face third seed Laura Massaro, who played out an extremely close three-game win over home-hope Nicolette Fernandes.
Fernandes matched her higher ranked opponent all the way in the first game, but just lacked the finishing edge to her game as two tins allowed the world No.3 to take the narrow first game 11-9. A similar contest ensued in the second, as Fernandes refused to allow the Englishwoman to run-away with proceedings, but was unable to prevent Massaro from doubling her lead.
In the third game, the scores tied at 3, 4, 5 and 6-all with the Guyana-born player showing the form of her career, but the quality of the Englishwoman proved to substantial, and she claimed six out of the remaining seven points to end the 51-minute contest.
With home hopes dashed, local hero Fernandes spoke of her World Open experience: “I’m thrilled with my tournament, disappointed it’s over obviously but I’ve never had support like this anywhere, a lot of the girls have told me they’re jealous. The crowd believed in me and made me believe in myself – I’m going to take this experience and run with it.
“It didn’t feel as though I was the number 40 playing the number 3, it was just a couple of points in each game, that’s what it felt like to me anyway.
“I had to cancel my flight, so I don’t even know if I’ll get home for Christmas, but it’s been well worth it!”
Massaro was quick to praise her opponent after the match, saying: “Nicolette has had a fantastic tournament, and that shows you just what a bit of home support can do for you.
“She pushed me all the way in each game, it just shows you can’t take anything for granted as the level is so close these days.
“Nicol will be tough for anyone to beat, but until you get through to play her, you just have to take each match as it comes.”Today’s quarter-final round will be broadcast live on PSASquashTV.com from 19:00 local time (00:00 GMT)
21:15 –  Nicol David (MAS) v  Madeline Perry (IRL)
19:00 –  Alison Waters (ENG) v  Jenny Duncalf (ENG)
19:45 –  Laura Massaro (ENG) v  Low Wee Wern (MAS)
20:30 –  Raneem El Weleily (EGY) v  Natalie Grinham (NED)
 Nicol David (MAS) bt  Annie Au (HKG) 11-3, 11-2, 11-3 (25m)
 Madeline Perry (IRL) bt  Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 11-2, 11-9, 11-9 (37m)
 Alison Waters (ENG) bt  Samantha Teran (MEX) 11-5, 12-10, 11-3 (29m)
 Jenny Duncalf (ENG) bt  Camille Serme (FRA) 12-10, 11-6, 8-11, 11-8 (58m)
 Low Wee Wern (MAS) bt  Kasey Brown (AUS) 11-5, 11-8, 12-10 (35m)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) bt [Q] Nicolette Fernandes (GUY) 11-9, 11-9, 11-7 (51m)
 Natalie Grinham (NED) bt  Joelle King (NZL) 8-11, 11-3, 8-11, 11-8, 11-7 (54m)
 Raneem El Weleily (EGY) bt  Dipika Pallikal (IND) 7-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-5 (38m)