World Open Final:

[1] Carol Owens (Nzl) bt [4] Cassie Jackman (Eng)
3/9, 9/2, 9/7, 9/3  (53m)
Sat 13th Dec, The Final:
Owens Reclaims
World Title
Colin McQuillan reports from Hong Kong

New Zealand’s Carol Owens tonight reclaimed the Women’s World Open crown in Hong Kong with a 53 minute 3-9 9-2 9-7 9-3 victory over Cassie Jackman of England, later giving strong indications that the final of this Credit Suisse Privilege Women's World Open Championship could be her last contribution to an international circuit she has travelled for more than 15 years.

“I am very attracted to the idea of retiring at the top and holding the World Championship title and the World No1 spot is just about as good as it gets,” she said after taking back the huge WSF rosebowl she first won in Edinburgh back in the year 2000. “I have to admit I was very tempted to make the announcement up on the winners rostrum with this in my arms again. But there are people back in New Zealand I should really speak to first.

“I do not actually know what I will be doing next year. I am 32 years of age. I have had back troubles since the British Open back in June and, frankly, I have been on the road for a very long time. But, then, I never really expected to win the world title again. I was amazed that I managed it last time, and as I was 0-2 and 2-8 down to Leilani Joyce in the Edinburgh final, you might say that was a marginal win, so to get it back with a bit of authority is just unbelievable. Tonight might alter everything for me.”

If there was a point in the final where that alteration came into focus, it was when a forcing backhand drive from Owens buried itself in Jackman’s left calf when she was leading 7-5 in the third game. The fourth seeded British National Champion had seized the first game with a strong and confident attack into the front court and found something of the same urgency in the third game to establish a 7-3 lead that seemed almost certain to continue on to a 2-1 game advantage.

But she had made two tense unforced tinned errors to diminish that situation as game point came within sight and then lost two penalty strokes on the forehand side immediately after the ball strike to allow the World No1 to level the score at 7-7. A smart little backhand drop took Owens to game ball and, despite half-a-dozen let calls and a very doubtful volley drop from Jackman, she stole the game advantage for herself with a clinging backhand drop shot that left her opponent drifting hopelessly in midcourt.

Effectively that was the end of Jackman’s hopes of converting her fourth World Open Final appearance into a second title to add to the win she had over Michelle Martin in Seattle in 1999.

She hit a good backhand drop shot to reclaim service at the start of the fourth game, but then she tinned an overhead forehand volley and relinquished the following seven rallies without reply. A brief resurgence to 3-7 raised the possibility of a fightback to a fifth game, but Owens struck a carefully organised forehand drive into space deep in the righthand back corner and went to match point with a neat forehand volley drop shot. Matters ended on a desperately inhibited backhand drop shot into the tin from Jackman.

“In the end Carol won well,” Jackman admitted candidly at the end. “But I let my early positivity fade as she found her rhythm in the second game and then I let that 7-3 lead go in the third. I got a bad call in there somewhere and then the hit with the ball broke the run of the game and I never got the initiative back from there. I don’t think I actually hit many bad shots in the match, but neither did Carol after that early patch.”

Owens acknowledged a slow start. “Perhaps I was a bit tense knowing that it was there for the taking,” she explained. “But I had worked well earlier in the day and once I got things going in the final my confidence clicked in just as it was supposed to.

End of the road
for Owens ???