Pallikal powers into Canberra semis

Andrew Dent reports

Northern Ireland’s Madeline Perry crushed Australian hopes in the women’s quarter-finals at the HI-TEC Australian Open when she defeated Kasey Brown with a ruthless display of attacking squash in Canberra on Friday.

Played immediately after Australia’s Donna Urquhart was forced to forfeit her match against England’s Laura Massaro because of an ankle injury, Perry dominated Brown to win in three games 11-4, 11-5, 11-6.

Perry won the Australian Open in 2010 and was a semi-finalist 12 months ago and enjoys playing on the Canberra glass court.

“Some courts just seem to suit you and this one has always been good for me,” she said, adding that she felt in control from the start of the match. “It doesn’t normally happen very often but I started well today. When I won the first few points I was quite surprised but I took it as a good sign,” Perry said.

“She couldn’t seem to get in front of me because my length was so good and she couldn’t attack. I could really sense she was getting frustrated.”

Perry will head into her semi-final against defending champion Nicol David with some confidence after the Malaysian was pushed hard before beating England’s Alison Waters.

Waters , runner-up to Perry in 2010, came out with all guns blazing to take the first game in a tiebreak. The world number one struck back to win the second in a canter then just managed to hold off an inspired Waters in the third and fourth to win a high-quality match 10-12, 11-1, 11-7, 15-13.

“At the start of the second I decided I had to be clearer about what I was supposed to be doing,” David said. “I started watching the ball a bit better and everything started to go really well for me, and Alison started making some errors. But she kept competing and the third and fourth games were really tough.”

Earlier, Urquhart was forced to pull out before her match after suffering an ankle injury during her win over Rachael Grinham on Thursday. Urquhart had treatment on the ankle on Thursday night but the injury flared up on Friday morning and she was unable to take the court against third seed Massaro.

Massaro will now take on glamorous Indian Dipika Pallikal in the semi-finals following Pallikal’s impressive 11-5, 11-7, 12-10 over Amanda Sobhy of the US.

Sobhy was unable to repeat her heroics from Thursday when she defeated second seeded Englishwoman Jenny Duncalf, with Pallikal in complete control throughout. Pallikal raced to a 6-0 lead in the first game and never looked like losing to the American, who appeared to suffer a let-down after her win over Duncalf.

“I’ve been coming here for the past couple of years and I’ve never passed the second round so being in the semis is great,” Pallikal said. “I’ve had a great summer.  It was a very tough summer but the results are showing.

“With Amanda you have to cut her off from all her volleys and keep her at the back. She’s very, very good at the front of the court. I wanted to get in there and keep the ball at the back corners of the court.

“I saw her playing Jenny yesterday and she was on fire so I knew it was going to be difficult but it’s a big opportunity to get to the semis of the Australian Open so I just had to do it.”


[11] Dipika Pallikal (Ind) bt Amanda Sobhy (Usa) 11/5, 11/7, 12/10 (32m)
[3] Laura Massaro (Eng) bt [12] Donna Urquhart (Aus) w/o injured
[4] Madeline Perry (Irl) bt [8] Kasey Brown (Aus) 11/4, 11/5, 11/6 (33m)
[1] Nicol David (Mas) bt Alison Waters (Eng) 10/12, 11/1, 11/7, 15/13 (68m)

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