Aussie teammates in Quarter Finals
Australian teammates Rachael Grinham and Donna Urquhart will meet in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open squash championships in Canberra after both won tough second round matches on Wednesday.
Grinham downed Malaysian Low Wee Wern 11-8, 8-11, 11-4, 11-3 before Urquhart saw off India’s Dipika Pallikal 11-6, 7-11, 11-6, 11-8.
Urquhart and Grinham were part of the Australian team that won the world teams title last December and have become training partners since Grinham returned to live in Australia at the start of July.
“It’s an advantage for me because I train with her now,” Urquhart said, “but I guess it could be an advantage to her as well.
“It’s good that there won’t be too many surprises, we know each other’s games pretty well and it’s been really good to train together.”
Urquhart was in dynamic form at the beginning of her match against Pallikal, showing why she has risen to number 13 in the world over the past few months.
But after starting brilliantly she lost concentration in the second and allowed the Indian back into the contest.
However, she regrouped to regain control and move comfortably into the final eight.
“I didn’t get my length right in the second and she was all over me,” Urquhart said.
“I knew I had to get back in front of her and control the game again if I wanted to win. Today it was all about getting the right position and slowing it down, not giving her any pace on the ball.”
Grinham’s match followed a similar pattern to Urquhart as she won the first game easily, then dropped the second before regaining control and easing away.
“I made it a bit tough for myself when I lost the second game, but I settled down and started hitting some good length, rather than panicking and trying to do too much,” Grinham, the 2005 champion, said.
World number one Nicol David of Malaysia made it through to the quarter-finals with a straight games win over 17-year-old Englishwoman Emily Whitlock.
David started slowly but overpowered her younger opponent to win 11-9, 11-7, 11-5.
She will play Hong Kong’s Annie Au in the last eight following Au’s 14-12, 11-4, 9-11, 11-9 win over Line Hansen of Denmark.
Australia’s David Palmer overcame a badly injured ankle to edge past Tom Richards of England 4-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-5.
Palmer hurt his ankle when he fell awkwardly during his first round win over Azlan Iskandar on Monday and needed extensive treatment at the AIS just to take the court.
The 35-year-old struggled badly during the first game and looked headed for an early exit in possibly his last ever Australian Open.
However, as the match wore on he slowly started to gain more movement and began to dominate an increasingly frustrated Richards.
Palmer took a close second game then made decisive breaks in the third and fourth to take the match.
He now has a day off for more treatment before facing third seed Karim Darwish in the quarter-finals following Darwish’s 11-5, 8-11, 11-5, 11-7 win over Hong Kong’s Max Lee.
“I was happy just to get on court,” Palmer said.
“I’ve been out at the AIS getting treatment and they’ve done some great work.
“In the early stages it felt like I was dragging my leg around and I think winning that second game was very important – if Tom had gone two-love up I think he would have run away with it.
“I think it probably affected Tom’s game a little bit because it can be hard to play against someone you know has an injury.”
England’s Nick Matthew remained on track to defend his title with an impressive win over Malaysia’s Ong Beng Hee.
World number one Matthew absorbed everything the Malaysian threw at him to close out the match 11-7, 11-8, 11-9 and move into a quarter-final against Laurens Jan Anjema of the Netherlands.
Anjema reached the final eight when he beat American Julian Illingworth 11-4, 11-3, 11-3.
Matthew and Ong have been opponents since their junior days and the Malaysian used all his experience to undo his opponent, hitting an array of shots to all parts of the court.
However, Matthew was up to the challenge despite struggling to close out the match in a tight third game.
“I seem to get to seven, eight and nine points okay before hitting a bit of a roadblock,” he said.
“But that’s a credit to Beng Hee, he stayed around to fight to the end. He changed his tactics every point so it was hard to feel comfortable.
“I was happy to get off three-love really. I’m getting through, I’m not really playing with full fluency yet, but it’s early days in the tournament so hopefully I’ll find it.
“Everything’s sort of in place, it’s just a matter of piecing the bits together – I’ll get that in the next few days.”
Matthew will need to be at his best against Anjema, who followed up his first round defeat of fifth seed Thierry Lincou with a dominant display against Illingworth.
“I played really well tonight – it’s tough to follow up a win over someone like Thierry,” he said.
“You walk around with your head in the clouds but you have to tell yourself it’s a new day and there’s work to be done.”