Monaco: Natalie Grinham the Winner
By SquashTalk staff, Dec 9, 2006
Squashtalk Independent News; © 2006 SquashTalk LLC
|Vanessa and Natalie prior to the finals in Monaco... (photo © 2006 WISPA)|
The top two seeds had reached the Monte Carlo Classic Final in quite different ways. Vanessa Atkinson, the Classic title holder, had been giving away games to her previous oppenents like early Christmas presents, while parsomonious Natalie Grinham had offered none.
Atkinson, two years older than Grinham at thirty, has been world number one and world champion, and though Grinham could match neither of these claims she was very much the favourite. While the Dutch player had not been beyond the quarters of a WISPA Tour event since winning the Tournament of Champions nine months ago, her Dutch (based) opponent had come very close to taking the World open title two weeks ago.
Those who pore over the recent head to heads to get a form line would have come up barren. Their last encounter had been as far back as the semis of the Qatar Classic in 2005 which Atkinson had won. But back then she was brim full of assuredness as well as her obvious ability. More recently, as demonstated in her semi final against Alison Waters she has shown a degree of inconsistency that would not serve her well if repeated in front of the full house at the Stade Louis II in the Principality of Monaco.
The match started with Atkinson’s stock of patience restocked. Generally eschewing the opportunity to go short the rallies were long; and tended to last until Grinham picked up on anything of less than good length and dinked a winner.
Atkinson knew that the lively court required patience, but at 5/2 down hers gave way to impetuosity and the early efforts to compete were frittered way as she lost her shape.
The black clad Dutchwoman looked to have continued to have lost her way in the second as Grinham raced to a 7/1 lead, but then started to claw back as a seeming winners did not annoyingly get returned. It has to be something a bit special for it to be unreachable by wisp-like Grinham. Having clambered back to 6/7 the combination of a fortunate side wall roller and a surprisingly reached drop gave back the initiative to the multi Gold winner of the Commonwealth Games. The game was taken in one hand, and the pattern of domination continued in the third – which proved to be the last act.
Two many lunging Atkinson back corner boasts fell short when she was driven there. Watchers continued to enjoy some great all court squash but after 33 minutes the finishing line was crossed by Grinham at the third match ball attempt.
|Natalie Grinham - Monte Carlo Classic Winner. (photo © 2006 WISPA)|
Five years after failing at the semis, she had returned to Monaco to take the title named after the central, Rolls Royce festooned district of tiny and stunningly sited Monaco.
After receiving her trophy along with a beautiful bracelet offered by jewellers Fred of Paris, Grinham explained what needed no explanation. “I’ve had a really good week” she said.
But as her strong streak had started far earlier than December she was prompted to further explain, “I have been working with fitness coach Allistair McCaw and squash coach Lucas Buit, and combining their training has been really beneficial. I am happy with my training and it is showing in my squash”.
She is now looking forward to a short break in her native Australia - departing tomorrow – before returning to compete again on the WISPA Tour in early January.
Atkinson has only to head off as far as Netherlands, with runner up spot, her own Fred bracelet and prize money; and nothing but admiration with her opponent. “She was just too good” she said.
“She is playing very well, the court suited her and all in all it wasn’t going to happen for me. But I was staying in there and competing so it was okay from that standpoint” she added.
11th MONTE CARLO CLASSIC [Draw]
Natalie Grinham (AUS) (2) bt Vanessa Atkinson (Ned) (1) 9-2 9-6 9-2 (40m)
|... The touring group in Monaco at Dinner (photo © 2006 WISPA)|