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Nicol David Back On Track In Grand Cayman

Cayman Islands Open 2009
04-10 May
South Sound Squash Club, $37k
Round One
07 May
08 May
09 May
10 May
[1] Nicol David (Mas)
11/2, 11/5, 11/6 (24m)
[Q] Sharon Wee (Mas)
Nicol David
11/3, 11/3, 11/8 (32m)
Samantha Teran
Nicol David
11-3, 11-8, 11-8 (32m)
Rachael Grinham
Nicol David
11-8, 11-6, 11-5 (33m)
Natalie Grainger
[8] Samantha Teran (Mex)
11/9, 8/11, 8/11, 11/7, 11/6 (89m)
Dominique Lloyd-Walter (Eng)
[3] Rachael Grinham (Aus)
11/4, 11/9, 11/4 (22m)
[Q] Lisa Camilleri (Aus)
Rachael Grinham
9/11, 13/11, 11/6, 11/8 (51m)
Jaclyn Hawkes
[6] Isabelle Stoehr (Fra)
11/7, 11/6, 11/4 (26m)
Jaclyn Hawkes (Nzl)
Marlene West (Cay)
11/7, 11/3, 11/6 (27m)
[5] Jenny Duncalf (Eng)
Jenny Duncalf
11/4, 13/15, 11/6, 5/11, 11/9 (60m)
Natalie Grinham
Jenny Duncalf
9-11, 13-11, 11-6, 11-8 (51m)
Natalie Grainger
[Q] Delia Arnold (Mas)
11/6, 11/6, 11/5 (31m)
[4] Natalie Grinham (Ned)
Line Hansen (Den)
11/9, 11/8, 11/6 (38m)
[7] Kasey Brown (Aus)
Kasey Brown
11/9, 11/7, 11/7 (34m)
Natalie Grainger
[Q] Latasha Khan (Usa)
5/11, 11/6, 11/7, 11/6 (32m)
[2] Natalie Grainger (Usa)

Pictures courtesy of SquashPics.com


Nicol David Back On Track In Grand Cayman


Malaysia's world number one Nicol David celebrated her 50th appearance in a WISPA World Tour final in appropriate style in the climax of the inaugural Women's Cayman Islands Open - playing her best squash for over a year to beat world number two Natalie Grainger in straight games and avenge her recent defeat by the US star.


"I'm very happy with that - I played my best squash of this year, and last year too probably," an exuberant Nicol David said after the stunning 11-8, 11-6, 11-5 victory in 33 minutes which landed the 25-year-old from Penang the 35th Tour title of her career - but her first this year.


"She played well - but with the whole atmosphere of it, with what happened last time we played, I brought it all on to court and it helped me focus," explained David, referring to the crushing five-game defeat she suffered at the hands of Grainger in the final of the KL Open in March, which brought to an end the Malaysian's 56-match unbeaten run over the previous 17 months.


"Knowing what happened last time you have a good idea of what you need to do, so that it doesn't happen again. She played well last time but I really wanted to play well today," David added.


"This tournament has been so great, the setting, the club, and the atmosphere.  Dan (Kneipp) has done a fantastic job - I can't wait to come back!"


With four successive Tour titles to her credit already this year, Natalie Grainger had built up a 19-match unbeaten Tour run on the eve of the final of the $37,500 event at South Sound Squash Club in Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands. 


"I made a good start, but not with enough control," admitted the 31-year-old from Greenwich later.  "I was a bit tense in a way, I wasn't finishing my shots properly I wasn't hitting a good length.


"In these conditions, Nicol's always going to be tough to beat.  You have to be at the top of your game.


"But it's been a good tournament overall for me - a fantastic setting and organisation, so I can't be too unhappy overall.  I'm just a bit disappointed about the three-nil."


Grand Cayman Hosts Grand Final
& David's 50th


The world's two highest-ranked squash players will contest a 'dream final' of the Women's Cayman Islands Open after Nicol David (left) and Natalie Grainger prevailed in the semi-finals of the inaugural $37,500 WISPA World Tour event at South Sound Squash Club in Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands.


And Nicol David, the world number one from Malaysia, will be celebrating her 50th appearance in a WISPA Tour final after her semi-final victory over Australian rival Rachael Grinham - the only current player to have featured in more finals (51).


Furthermore, the final will be the first meeting between the pair since US star Grainger defeated David in the final of the KL Open in March, thus dramatically ending the Malaysian's 56-match unbeaten run over the previous 17 months.


"Everyone's trying to do something to beat me, so I have to be ready for anything and try to play my game," top seed Nicol David said after her 9-11, 11-0, 11-8, 11-3 victory over third seed Grinham. 


"Rachael plays a slow game really well, and it worked for her at the start.  I had to bring something extra in the next game, and I found my momentum and carried it on to the next games.


"I'm just glad to be in the final, and looking forward to another match up with Natalie," added David, now just one win away from her 35th Tour crown.   "Hopefully it will be a good match for the crowd, who have been great all week."


Grainger, the in-form No2 seed from Greenwich, crushed England's Jenny Duncalf 11-6, 11-2, 11-3 in just 25 minutes - the fifth seed clearly feeling the effects of her marathon hour-long upset over fourth seed Natalie Grinham in the previous round.


"I'm very happy with how that went - I knew Jenny had a hard match and a good win yesterday, so I really wanted to make sure I was on my game from the start, take my time and make sure my shots were tight," explained Grainger, the reigning US and Pan American Games champions.


"I worked it well, good shot selection and once I got on top it was important to keep it going, you can't afford to let anyone back in.


"Now it's the same routine as before - good food, good sleep, breakfast, a bit of sun and ready to go for the next match!"

Duncalf Downs Grinham In Grand Cayman Upset


Less than a week after upsetting world No4 Natalie Grinham in the final of the European Team Championships in Sweden, England's Jenny Duncalf (right) again defeated her Dutch rival in a five-game marathon in the quarter-finals of the Women's Cayman Islands Open to claim a surprise place in the last four of the inaugural $37,500 WISPA World Tour squash event at South Sound Squash Club in Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands.


Duncalf, the fifth seed from Harrogate in Yorkshire, won the first game for just four points and had two game-balls in the second.  But the gutsy fourth seed from Almere, winner of a record three gold medals for Australia in the 2006 Commonwealth Games, drew level - and went on to lead twice in the fifth game decider.


Undaunted, the two-time British National champion recovered the lead and battled to an 11-4, 13-15, 11-6, 5-11, 11-9 victory in exactly one hour - recording only her third ever career win over former world number two Grinham.


"I started off well, but I could have done with taking the second - it would have been difficult for her to come from two down," explained Duncalf, 26.


"In the third I went for more shots and hit a few winners. Maybe she was feeling the effects of the conditions then - I certainly did in the fourth, my energy levels went right down.  It's just so hot, and there's no air to breathe.


"It was even at the beginning of the fifth, then she got ahead - but the crowd got behind me a bit which gave me a boost.  I was so happy to finish it, it was a relief to get off there.  It's a great atmosphere with the crowd and the kids, but it's probably the toughest conditions I've played in!"


Duncalf now faces US champion Natalie Grainger, the second seed from Greenwich who defeated Australian Kasey Brown, the No7 seed, 11-9, 11-7, 11-7.


There will be Grinham representation, however, in the other semi-final where Natalie's older sister Rachael Grinham, the third seed, takes on event favourite Nicol David, the world number one from Malaysia.


Grinham senior recovered from a game down to beat surprise New Zealand opponent Jaclyn Hawkes 9-11, 13-11, 11-6, 11-8 in 51 minutes.  Unseeded Aucklander Hawkes made the quarters after upsetting sixth seed Isabelle Stoehr in the opening round.


"Jaclyn's improved a lot, and she's very good at getting everything back. She's got such a reach, you think she's struggling to get there but she comes back with a good shot," said Rachael Grinham.


"I made a few errors in the beginning, but was happy with how I played after that.  I twisted my ankle in Heliopolis a few weeks ago, so yesterday was my first real test since then."


Nicol David, competing in her first Tour event since ending her 17-month unbeaten run in March, eased into the semi-finals with an 11-3, 11-8, 11-8 victory over Samantha Teran, the No8 seed from Mexico.


"I've been training with Samantha in Amsterdam, so it's nice to get on court and see how she's playing in matches," said David.  "She's playing very well - that was a very tough match!


"It's fantastic how the crowd really get behind you here.  I hope they carry on and that I can play better tomorrow."

Hawkes Stuns Stoehr In South Sound Upset In Cayman


New Zealander Jaclyn Hawkes produced the only upset on the opening day of the Women's Cayman Islands Open when she beat France's sixth seed Isabelle Stoehr in straight games to claim a surprise quarter-final berth in the inaugural $37,500 WISPA World Tour squash event at South Sound Squash Club in Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands.


The 26-year-old world No17 from Auckland took only 26 minutes to subdue Stoehr 11-7, 11-6, 11-4 ending a run of four defeats to the higher-ranked Frenchwoman over the past three years.  Hawkes will now face former world champion Rachael Grinham, the third seed from Australia, for a place in the semi-finals.


"I felt that she knew that the court suited my game better than hers, and she felt she needed to go for shots with less margin for error than she probably had," Hawkes explained later  "She wasn't prepared to rally like I was.


"I think I played pretty well there - and, as it's the first time I've beaten her, I'm very pleased with the result."


Competing in her first Tour event since ending her 17-month unbeaten run in the final of the KL Open in March, top seed Nicol David recorded a comfortable 11-2, 11-5, 11-6 win over Malaysian compatriot Sharon Wee (left foreground), a qualifier.


"Sharon played well, but I played out of my skin - I'm pleased with my performance," said the exuberant world number one.  "It's a lovely place, I'm just taking everything in, but it's so nice to be back on court, back in tournament play - especially in somewhere like this.


"The atmosphere was great though, I was feeding off the whole vibe of the crowd and took a lot of momentum from that!"


David now faces Samantha Teran but the eighth-seeded Mexican was taken the full distance by unseeded English opponent Dominique Lloyd-Walter before prevailing 11-9, 8-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-6 in 89 minutes.


"That was very tough - it's so hot I even had to change my skirt!" said Teran, the world No16 and highest-ranked Mexican of all-time. 


Second seed Natalie Grainger, the world No2 from the USA who ended Nicol David's 56-match unbeaten run in Malaysia two months ago, had to fight back from a game down to beat compatriot Latasha Khan, a qualifier, 5-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-6.


"Latasha played well in the first - she's used to the conditions and had a couple of qualifying matches to get accustomed to it," said US champion Grainger.  "I knew what was wrong, it was just a question of settling down, concentrating, and winning the next game!"


Nicol David Begins Comeback Campaign Against Compatriot In Cayman


Competing in her first WISPA World Tour squash event since ending her 17-month unbeaten run in the final of the KL Open in March, world number one Nicol David is drawn to meet Malaysian compatriot Sharon Wee in today's first round of the Women's Cayman Islands Open, the inaugural $37,500 WISPA event at South Sound Squash Club in Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands.


The world's top five players are competing in the highest quality field ever to appear in the Caribbean.


Wee, the world No25 from Malacca, defeated England's Emma Beddoes 11-7, 11-6, 11-8 in 29 minutes in the qualifying finals to set up her fifth Tour meeting since 2000 with her Malaysian team-mate.


"This was a very important match for me," Wee said afterwards.  "Emma beat me 3/0 two months ago in Malaysia and I was determined to put that right.  I'm very happy - I'm proud of myself in fact."


Delia Arnold made it 100% success for Malaysians in the qualifiers after the Kuala Lumpur-born 23-year-old beat Sweden's Anna-Carin Forstadius 11-3, 11-8, 11-3.  Arnold gets the second highest-ranked opponent in second seed Natalie Grainger, the world No2 from the USA who ended Nicol David's 56-match unbeaten run in KL two months ago.


But the toughest qualifying battle saw USA's Latasha Khan edge out Caribbean star Nicolette Fernandes 9-11, 14-12, 11-1, 11-5 in 53 minutes.


Fernandes has been out of action for almost two years after a knee injury.  After winning the first game, the 25-year-old from Guyana led 10-5 in the second and had two game-balls before Khan drew level.


"Nicolette's such a good player," said Khan, a seven-time US champion.  "I used to hit with her a lot before she got injured, so I knew it was going to be tough, she just never gives anything up.  She's the only woman who dives after the ball!


"Coming back to win it was more her than me, and the same in the third.  She's been out for two years, but she'll be back to where she was in no time."


A downcast Fernandes, who attained a career-high world No27 ranking in May 2007, felt she should have won:  "I thought I played really well in the first two - I should have had the second, and should have won, so I'm really gutted to lose.


"You're always scared when you come back that you won't be able to compete at the same level, so I'm happy to be back, happy to be competing.  My fitness is back 100%, but not my match fitness yet.  I need to win more, I can't let these games get away from me.


"I feel at home here, I had great support, I love playing in the Caribbean.  I just should have won!"