Australia’s Donna Urquhart scored one of the best wins of her career to beat fellow countrywoman Rachael Grinham as four of the top eight women’s seeds lost their second round matches at the HI-TEC Australian Open in Canberra on Thursday.
Urquhart came out firing against seventh seeded Grinham then held off a resurgence to win 11-5, 11-7, 6-11, 11-4, her first ever win over her AIS training partner.
Second seed Jenny Duncalf of England, Hong Kong’s Annie Au (5) and Frenchwoman Camille Serme (6) all lost their matches on a day of upsets, while Australia’s eighth seeded Kasey Brown had to come back from losing the first game before beating New Zealand’s Joelle King 7-11, 11-4, 11-6, 11-9.
Urquhart played brilliantly against former world number one Grinham, using her reach and height to great effect as she dominated her smaller opponent at the front of the court.
She won the first two games comfortably and while Grinham was able to come back and claim the third, Urquhart wasn’t to be denied as she moved into a quarter-final against third seeded Englishwoman Laura Massaro, who beat fellow countrywoman Emily Whitlock 14-12, 11-8, 11-9.
“It was a little bit quick, I couldn’t believe it was happening like that,” Urquhart said about the first two games.
“I felt in control and I was in front just by volleying and getting up high on the T. She made a few errors as well, but I think I was making it hard for her because I was in front on the court.
“But I was surprised to find myself two-love up, I’ve never even got more than one game off her in a tournament match.”
Urquhart said she had to get her concentration back once Grinham took the third to get back into the match.
“I knew I was looking for an easy way to win it in the third, I was taking the ball too short too soon and I was giving her the opportunity at the front and across the middle to move me around and send me the wrong way.”
Duncalf finished runner-up to Nicol David in Canberra last year but she had no answer against Sobhy, who combines playing squash with being a fulltime student at Harvard University.
The American took control of the match from the beginning, playing with speed and precision that Duncalf was unable to contain.
The Englishwoman fought hard and came back into the match, but Sobhy regrouped and won a pulsating encounter 11-7, 10-12, 11-7, 11-6.
“From the beginning of the match I felt really good with the pace, I was happy with how I was playing, I was attacking well,” Sobhy said.
“But in the middle of the second game I couldn’t keep up with my own pace and I got a little tired, and she came back.
“I had to change my game plan because I couldn’t keep up with the fast pace. I tried to still attack as much but not hit the ball so hard.”
Au, who won the title in 2008, lost to 2010 runner-up Alison Waters of England 11-7, 11-6, 11-8, while Indian glamour girl Dipika Pallikal downed Serme 3-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-6.
There were no such problems for top seed David, who easily accounted for fellow Malaysian Low Wee Wern 11-4, 11-1, 11-6.
Waters scored the first major upset of the tournament with her impressive win over the world number six from Hong Kong.
Waters was once ranked as high as three in the world before an injury sustained at the 2010 Commonwealth Games forced her off the tour for 12 months.
However, she won her last tournament in Paris as a qualifier and is rapidly closing back in on the top 10.
The 28-year-old Londoner attacked from the outset and didn’t let Au play her favoured game of lobs and drops.
“She beat me 3-2 the last time I played her and this time I wanted to keep the pace up,” Waters said.
“I wanted to attack and volley as much as possible.”
Pallikal recovered from an error-strewn first game to overcome Serme, who was struggling with a back injury that restricted her movement at times.
The Indian got early leads in the next three games and held her nerve to reach the quarter-finals for the first time.
“Camille came out really fast and I am a slow starter most of the time,” Pallikal said.
“At the start of the second I just decided to go out there and whack the hell out of the ball, no matter where it was.”
Ireland’s Madeline Perry, the winner in 2010, also progressed when she beat England’s Emma Beddoes 11-8, 13-11, 11-2.
“In the third I started to attack a bit more and Emma lost a bit of momentum,” Perry said.
“The first two games were pretty tough, she controlled the pace and didn’t give me any opportunities to volley.
“A few years ago the first and second rounds of these big tournaments you would have comfortable games, but now even the first round matches are tough.
“There are so many younger players coming through.