The second day of last sixteen action in the Cayman Women’s World Open saw four-time finalist Natalie Grinham upset fifth seed Joelle King to progress to the quarter-finals, along with seventh seed Low Wee Wern and second and third seeds Raneem El Weleily and Laura Massaro who beat an inspired Caribbean Champion Nicolette Fernandes in three close games.
 Natalie Grinham (Ned) 3-2  Joelle King (Nzl) 8/11, 11/3, 8/11, 11/8, 11/7 (54m)
Natalie on World Open course
Four time World Open finalist Natalie Grinham – undeterred by the Haka performed right in front of her at the opening of the match – set her sights on more than just a fifth final – after beating fifth seed Joelle King in a five-setter lasting just short of an hour the Dutchwoman declared “I’d rather win my first title than just make a fifth final!”
The match was a rather scrappy affair with both contenders playing well in patches, then succumbing to errors, not helped by the hot humid conditions and the frequent intervention of the court sweeper. “My hands never sweat, and look at the floor,” said Grinham at the end of the match.
For the most part it was Grinham’s shots that dictated the match – when they were going in she was on top, when King could run them down the Kiwi would frequently take the point.
Suffice to say that the first four game were shared, only the second not being in doubt, but Grinham always had the edge in the decider, winning it on her second match ball.
“That was very tough,” she said, “I’ve come here from frezing conditions and it’s soooo hot here!
“I made the World Open semis last year, but my results hve been up and down, I’m just happy that I’m playing well. I like being the underdog, there’s no pressure on me then, so I’ll take that scalp.”
 Low Wee Wern (Mas) 3-0  Kasey Brown (Aus) 11/5, 11/8, 12/10
Kasey getting closer …
The rallies were always competitive, but the Aussie suffered from too many mistakes in the first two games, much to her own frustration and Low’s gratitude as the Malaysian took the lead 11/5, 11/8.
Brown started the third better, leading 3/0 and holding the slight edge all the way to a 9/8 and 10/9 lead. The errors returned at the wrong time though as a tin wasted the game ball, a loose return resulted in a stroke for match ball to Low, and a scuffed return off a tight drive spelt the end.
“It’s always tough against Kasey, she never gives up and was getting closer all the time,” said Low. “The pace seemed to get faster and faster but you can’t afford to slow down against any of the top girls.
“I’m used to playing in conditions like this which might have been an advantage to me. I can play fine with my leg strapped [after a hamstring injury in Hong Kong], but I’m glad to be able to get through in three.”
 Laura Massaro (Eng) 3-0 [Q] Nicolette Fernandes (Guy) 11/9, 11/9, 11/7 (51m)
Out of her skin, but …
What a great performance from Caribbean Champion Nicolette Fernandes, who pushed world number three Laura Massaro so, so close for three games that delighted the Cayman crowd but also left them with a bit of ‘what might have been’ feeling.
She played out of her skin, did Nicolette, matching her illustrious opponent all the way, even if she did get a little overexcited at times.
From 5-all in the first Nicolette edged into the lead 8-6, but Laura kept to her steady, solid game, and took five of the last six points to take the lead.
Nicolette started the second even better, a 4-1 lead accompanied by a few fist pumps and “C’mon” cries. Laura worked her way back into it, levelled at 7-all, but Nicolette wouldn’t let her get away, and at 9-all it was in the balance. Two volleys into the tin spelt bad news for the crowd though as Laura doubled her lead 11/9.
Roles were reversed in the third – 3-0 for Laura but Nicolette levels at 3-all, 4-all, 5-all, 6-all. Despite some serious heroics from Nicolette Laura will take five of the next six points to end the Caribbean dream, but what an effort, from Nicolette and her crowd, well played indeed.
“Nicolette’s had a fantastic tournament, and that shows you just what a bit of home support can do for you,” said a relieved winner. “She pushed me all the way in each game, it just shows you can’t take anything for granted the level is so close these days.
“Nicol will be tough for anyone to beat, but until you get through to play her you just have to take each match as it comes.”
Nicolette was delighted with her World Open, but her instant reaction was “Sweaty!!!”
“I’m thrilled with my tournament, disappointed it’s over obviously but I’ve never had support like this anywhere, a lot of the girls have told me they’re jealous. They believed in me and made me believe in myself – I’m going to take this experience and run with it.
“It didn’t feel as though I was the number 40 playing the number 3, it was just a couple of points in each game, that’s what it felt like to me anyway.
“I had to cancel my flight, so I don’t even know if I’ll get home for Christmas, but it’s been well worth it,” concluded Nicolette.
 Raneem El Weleily (Egy) 3-1  Dipika Pallikal (Ind) 7/11, 11/9, 11/6, 11/5 (38m)
Raneem pulls through
As you would expect with these two players, rallies were generally short, with both going for their shots and both scoring outright winners at regular intervals, with a few errors from both sided thrown in for good measure.
Dipika’s shots held sway for the early part of the match but Raneem slowly but surely found her range, levelled in a close finish to the second game and began to take control from the outset of the third.
“We have very similar games and it’s always close between us,” said the winner, “she had me all over the court for a while so I’m pleased to be able to come through to win it like that, it was far from an easy win.”