Nicol Claims Revenge In
Nicol David triumphs
in Cleveland after a close-fought win over Laura Massaro to claim
the WSA Gold $50k Cleveland Classic 2012.
world No1 lost out at the hand of Massaro last year, with Cleveland 2011
being one of just two WSA titles she was unable to win. Revenge was
exacted this year however, despite early signs that the Englishwoman was
unwilling to relinquish her title.
Massaro started strongly, establishing a deliberate rhythm and showing
precise racquet work to reel off four winners on her way to a 6-0 lead.
David was given the chance to counter, after some unforced errors from
her opponent allowed her a way back into the game. Neither player could
keep errors from their game as they battled for the advantage.
English No2 took the first game 11-7, but not before David had upped the
pace, the faster tempo more suiting the Malaysian’s game and was a sign
of things to come.
second game was a highly close-fought affair, with neither player moving
out of reach of the other. The scores were level at 9-9 until a
fortunate back-court nick gave Massaro game ball.
following point was the turning point to the match. Massaro, keen to
finish the game off, hit a string of likely winners all of which were
scraped back by David until one such retrieval lodged itself in the back
corner to force the tiebreak. Almost a similar display of shot returns
from Massaro followed, but she was just unable to find the quality of
return to force the World Champion off guard and succumbed 12-10.
didn't find the tin once in the third, buoyed by her fight-back in the
second game. Her improved execution would be decisive in her taking the
game 11-7, with Massaro seeming to have dropped of the pace.
fourth she began forcing Massaro to the front of the court, an effective
strategy against the English player’s tiring legs. David raced to a 7-1
lead, heavily utilising the drops and drives fed from Massaro
counter-drops. The Englishwoman still had some fight in her, coming back
to within two points at 9-7, but a marginal stroke gave David match
ball, and after knocking a backhand overhead into the tin, she hit an
unreachable drive that gave the Malaysian the championship, and her 59thtitle.
David and Massaro through to set up
rematch of last year’s final
Nicol David will face Laura Massaro in
the Cleveland Classic final, to try and win one of the few titles that
eluded her in 2011.
at the WSA Gold $50k event semi finals, home-hope Amanda Sobhy’s title
challenge came to an end at the hand of Englishwoman Laura Massaro. The
first year Harvard student has impressed all week, but extra level of
pace and accuracy demonstrated by the English No2 put paid to an
otherwise valiant effort from the teenager.
Massaro was near flawless with her width,
putting in tight, clinical lengths to demonstrate her determination at
defending the title she claimed last year.
Soby’s counter-attacking efforts were
sparse, such was the pressure she was under and often her point scoring
opportunities were limited to the choice between hitting an outright
winner or risk hitting a loose shot.
A focussed display all round from Massaro
who reaches her 18th WSA tour final.
Malaysian world champion Nicol David took on Northern Ireland's Madeline
Perry in what was billed as a far from foregone conclusion. However,
from the outset David looked every bit the world No1. She was patient
but ruthless in attach. Establishing good length, she moved the
experienced Perry from corner to corner, calmly waiting for the
opportunity to go for the kill, which was regularly executed with expert
Perry looked outmatched and out of sorts,
dropping the first game without much contention. In the second David
was more content to extend the rallies but remained flawless, soaring to
a 9-1 lead. Perhaps sensing she had nothing to lose, Perry ramped up
the attack with three winners in quick succession, but David then made
quick work of two loose balls to close out the game 11-4.
In the third Perry maintained the
aggressive play. Though the game would go decisively to David, 11-6,
viewers were treated to long, fast-paced points, with Perry executing
well but David covering the court even better, time and again catching
up to apparent winners and returning them with interest.
The final will doubtlessly be a hotly
contested affair, with one player looking to retain the title and the
other looking revenge for last year’s failure. If Massaro can retain
her Cleveland title then it will be her tenth WSA win, if David wins
then she’ll be adding WSA title number 59 to the vast collection.
Local-hope Amanda Sobhy sets up clash with defending
Amanda Sobhy booked her semi final place at the WSA Cleveland Classic
2012 after Jenny Duncalf was forced to retire in injured.
Duncalf started strongly, initially
appearing untroubled by the blow to her knee, sustained in a round one
clash with the racket of Sarah Kippax. The world No2 played accurate
squash to take the first game, but seemed to slow down significantly in
the second. The Harvard student Sobhy, took full advantage of the
deterioration of her opponent and levelled terms before extending a lead
comfortably in the third. During the fourth the Englishwoman was
clearly someway short of full fitness, and the blow to her knee
yesterday was evidently still an issue. At 1-5 down, Duncalf called
time after pulling up short on a drop, offering her hand to the teenager
in concession of the match.
Sobhy will progress to face the reigning
Cleveland Classic champion, Laura Massaro, who ended the run of
Australian qualifier Donna Urquhart.
Massaro got the better of things early
on, jumping out to a 7-0 lead, but a few errors crept into her play, and
Urquhart was able to fight back to 8-10 before surrendering a stroke to
hand the English No2 the first game.
Urquhart carried the momentum into the
second and blasted past Massaro with some impressive front-court
deception. It looked like the makings of a see-saw battle, but Massaro
came out in the third playing more aggressively and got Urquhart on her
heels, taking the game 11-6. The fourth game was all Massaro, as her
precise shot-making forced a series of tins out of the Australian.
the other end of the draw, world No1 Nicol David dispatched Annie Au of
Hong Kong in straight games. Sitting out round one due to her
opponent’s injury, the extra rest did Au no favours against the top
seed. David will be even more determined to finish as champion of this
event, following her final-day loss to Massaro in last year’s
That said, Au played a stronger match
than the score would indicate, her deft flicks and drops always put
David under pressure. But the Malaysian was able to extend the rallies
until she could find a decisive advantage and finish the points off.
David will play experienced Irishwoman
Madeline Perry, after the No4 seed beat young Raneem El Weleily in a
close four-game battle. It was a contest of strikingly different
temperaments. Perry seemed cautious at the start, whereas El Weleily
was almost nonchalant as volley drops rolled off her racquet. They gave
the crowd further displays of aggressive squash, trading points equally
until the business-end of the first game, when a pair of tins and a
loose shot from El Weleily gave Perry the advantage to take the game.
next two games were nail-biters. In the second El Weleily jumped to a
9-3 lead but then lost focus; Perry fought back to 9-9, but the Egyptian
got her head back in the game and finished the game off 11-9. The third
was a similar story, as El Weleily again extended an early lead, but was
unable to see away the result. At 12-11, she hit a potential
game-winning drop into the tin and that was the beginning of the end.
Perry took the game 14-12 and then cruised to an 11-3 win in the fourth.
and Sobhy claim Cleveland scalps
Donna Urquhart and Amanda Sobhy claimed
the only two shock results in the first round of the WSA Cleveland
Qualifier Urquhart took on No5 seed Kasey
Brown in an all-Aussie affair, but went behind initially after a close
12-10 tiebreak first game. From there some consistent retrieval, aided
by a few errors from the higher ranked player, saw Urquhart establish
and maintain a lead. Brown fought back hard in the fourth game and led
her opponent 9-2 with a fifth deciding game seeming inevitable. But
Urquhart retaliated with a number of winning shots to reinstate her
attacking threat, and save three match balls forcing a tiebreak. At
12-11 up, Urquhart finished off the match to progress to the quarter
finals, also claiming her first victory over her national compatriot.
Urquhart will face reigning Cleveland
Classic champion Laura Massaro in the next round, after the Englishwoman
beat Malaysian Low Wee Wern. Massaro took a well-deserved lead early on
thanks to some strong lengths and canny shot selection. Wee Wern, still
only 21-years-old, fought well and managed to claim the third game,
before Massaro’s experience saw off the contest after 53-minutes.
The last remaining US hopeful Amanda
Sobhy played well in front of home-crowds as she dispatched the
experienced Rachael Grinham in straight-games. Grinham’s error count
was unusually high, frequently hitting the tin early on to allow Sobhy
the opportunity to establish and hold a lead from the start. From there
the Harvard student found a consistent length to trouble her opponent
and her intelligent use of drop shots eased her unfancied progression to
the next round to play Jenny Duncalf.
No2 seed Duncalf beat English compatriot
Sarah Kippax after a well-contested effort from the qualifier. After
registering a controlled first-game victory, Duncalf was troubled by a
more settled game-plan by Kippax, but at the midway stage of the second
game, play was halted after the higher ranked played sustained a nasty
blow to the knee from a Kippax racket-swing. An injury break of nearly
20-minutes was held whilst Duncalf recovered, but Kippax was clearly
embarrassed by the incident and seemed unable to regain the focus she
had found early on. The 3-0 result that followed was a hollow victory
for the world number two.
There was nearly a surprise result at the
top of the drawer, as Nicol David was forced to five-games against New
Zealand qualifier Joelle King. Last week’s Greenwich Open finalist went
two games down against the world No1 and David’s progression seemed
inevitable as she took a 6-1 lead in the third game.
King tried a last-ditch change of tactic
however, and launched upon an impressive attacking tirade to come from
behind and claw back a game in her favour. More of the same followed in
the fourth game as King drew level, standing firm as David looked to
extend the rallies and look for signs of weakness in her opponent’s
At 6-5 up, King looked on the verge of a
momentous upset but the world No1, using all her experience from years
at the top of the sport, further tightened her width and won six points
in a row to sneak ahead of the 23-year-old and progress to the quarters.
David will play Annie Au of Hong Kong in
the next round, who should be well rested following the withdrawal of
her first round opponent Camille Serme, following a last minute back
No4 seed Madeline Perry looked to get
over her disappointing Greenwich Open exit last week, with a strong 3-0
win over qualifier Jaclyn Hawkes. Hawkes, perhaps fatigued after an
close 80-minute scrap with Emma Beddoes in qualifying finals the day
before, was never able to establish herself against the experienced
Perry’s progression sets up an intriguing
quarter final clash with young Egyptian Raneem El Weleily, winner of
last week’s Greenwich Open. The world No7 from Alexandria faced a stern
test against former world No2 Natalie Grinham, who herself saw victory
last week, winning the WSA Tournament of Champions title in New York.
Both players tend to favour the attacking
drop shots and there was nothing separating the pair at 11-11 in the
first game. Grinham showed little concern for the score line as she
slotted in a crosscourt nick from well behind the service box, taking
her to a game ball that she was able to convert. El Weleily struck
back, extending a 7-point lead in the second game before a lapse in
concentration saw Grinham back in the hunt at 8-7. Refocused, the
Egyptian got her head down and saw off the game to draw level at 1-1.
In the third, El Weleily was able to
string together a whole game of dominance, with Grinham unable to
respond. But again some youthful erraticism crept into her play in the
fourth and allowed Grinham a glimmer of hope at 8-4. The Egyptian
flicked the switch back on though, and with some racket wizardry, worked
seven out of the next eight points in her favour, to progress through to
the next round.