The semi-final round of the World Series Delaware Investments U.S. Open Squash was a prime example of two ferociously competitive contests, that couldn’t have been any closer.
Top seed Nicol David was the first player to book a place in the final, but not before young qualifier Joelle King from New Zealand launched a thrilling comeback chase to force the match to five games and over 80 minutes.
The Malaysian six-time world champion David, had made casual work of the affair for the opening two games. Steady, consistent, line-and-length squash was wearing down her opponent who didn’t seem overawed by the occasion, but didn’t seem to put up too much of a fight.
However, King struck back in the third with an increase in pace in both her hitting and movement. David, having lost her last two events, was on the back foot and the Kiwi was rapidly coming back into the contest. She claimed the following two games, and launched a dramatic assault on the deciding fifth game.
Having already claimed career-defining scalps earlier in the competition, against Nour El Sherbini and Jenny Duncalf, it looked like the biggest was yet to come from King as she raced to a 6-0 lead. But her momentum stopped dead in it’s tracks as the experienced David calmly extended the rallies, moving her opponent from corner to corner and slowly chipped away at the deficit.
Sensing her lead deteriorating, King let one or two errors into her game but by the time David drew level at 6-all, the younger play looked extremely tired and was struggling to finish off her points. She gained one more point, at match ball down, as the reigning world champion won 11 points in 12 to progress to the 2012 final.
After an 83-minute marathon, David will have been pleased to see the subsequent semi-final also extend past the hour mark as Raneem El Weleily sought revenge against the player who not only clinched victory in Carol Weymuller final two weeks ago, but in doing so, also stole her world No.2 ranking place.
Laura Massaro, last year’s U.S. Open champion, raced to an early lead in the match thanks to a vast number of errors early on from her opponent. As the match wore on however, El Weleily’s eye for a drop became settled and she was forcing Massaro into the front with some deceptive short attacks that are ubiquitous with Egyptian players.
Massaro closed out the first game, but El Weleily returned to court with momentum behind her to win the second. The Englishwoman kept up with her pace in the third and led 9-7 before the Egyptian came from behind increase her lead with four outright winners.
El Weleily’s short game was getting her out of trouble when needed, but she levelled Massaro’s fourth game lead to 9-all demonstrating some excellent length play, before tinning her first attempt at gaining match ball. The No4 seed capitalised on the mistake to take the fourth game in the tie-break to force the deciding fifth game.
The young Egyptian stormed back into the contest and rose to an enviable 7-1 lead. Massaro attempted to chip away at the deficit but the damage was done and El Weleily finished the contest in emphatic style with an overhead volley drop to ensure a new U.S. Open champion from tomorrow’s final.
The final will be streamed live from 18.30 local time (GMT-5) on http://www.psasquashtv.com.
18:30:  Nicol David (MAS) vs  Raneem El Weleily (EGY)
 Nicol David (MAS) bt [Q] Joelle King (NZL) 11-8, 11-6, 5-11, 8-11, 11-7 (83m)
 Raneem El Weleily (EGY) bt  Laura Massaro (ENG) 7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 10-12, 11-4 (60m)