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Grinham Sisters Out at British Open: Stoehr Semifinalist
May 9, 2008, By SquashTalk.com , Independent News; © 2008 SquashTalk LLC       



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[Men's Draw]       [Womens Draw]

Within the first three hours of the first day of action in the Dunlop British Open - Liverpool 2008 squash championships at the ECHO Arena Liverpool, both champions were out of the tournament at the quarter-finals stage.

The men's event produced two successive shocks in the afternoon session when the defeat of defending champion Gregory Gaultier was followed by the surprise exit of top seed and world number one Amr Shabana.

In the women's event England's Jenny Duncalf upset title-holder Rachael Grinham.

There will be English interest in both the men's and women's semi-finals of the Dunlop British Open - Liverpool 2008 squash championships after Yorkshireman James Willstrop survived a 61-minute battle against England team-mate Peter Barker in today's men's quarter-finals at the ECHO Arena Liverpool.

Louise Crome - Vietnam WISPA squash open winner
Nicol David comes from one down to beat Shelley Kitchen (photo ©2008 Fritz Borchert)

Earlier England's chances of a finalist in the women's event were massively boosted when Jenny Duncalf, also from Yorkshire, upset defending champion Rachael Grinham 9-5, 1-9, 9-6, 9-1.

The 25-year-old fifth seed from Harrogate, who had never before beaten the three times champion from Australia, will now face Isabelle Stoehr in the semi-finals after the French qualifier earlier ousted Rachael's sister Natalie Grinham, the second seed.

In a hard-fought and relentless encounter, 24-year-old Willstrop recovered from a swift second game loss to defeat left-handed Londoner Barker 11-9, 4-11, 11-9, 11-8.

"It was an absolute scrap," said the England number one, who now reached the last four for the second time in four years.  "I didn't feel either of us controlled the game well - but it was a good game and an honest one against a good guy whose game has really come on.

"You get more motivated as the rounds go on," added the world number three from Leeds.

Barker, who came up against Willstrop countless times as a junior and senior, said:  "I'm very, very disappointed.  But it was no disgrace.  I'd be happy for James to go through to the final - and I know he'd have felt the same about me."

Louise Crome - Vietnam WISPA squash open winner
Darwish ousts Gregory Gaultier (photo ©2008 Fritz Borchert)

The men's event produced two successive shocks in the afternoon session when the defeat of defending champion Gregory Gaultier was followed by the surprise exit of top seed and world number one Amr Shabana.

Third seed Gaultier, the world number two who last year became the first ever French winner of the men's trophy, crashed out 11-9, 11-7, 11-3 to Egypt's Karim Darwish, the No8 seed.

"That was the best win of my career," said the 26-year-old from Cairo who was also a semi-finalist two years ago.  "I knew I could do it - but I had to stay focussed as Greg is one of the best players around.

"I kept thinking about the last time we played - in Kuwait, where I was ahead in all of the games but he won 3/0," explained Darwish, ranked eight in the world. 

"I wasn't focussed then, but I was today - I had to believe in myself."It was a bad day at the office for Shabana, one of the game's most gifted and mercurial talents.  After dropping the first game, the favourite came back to level the match.

But Palmer, making his 12th appearance in the event since 1997 and champion three times, maintained the pressure to come through an 11-6, 3-11, 11-5, 11-8 winner after 49 minutes.

"I'm just happy to play at this level still - I've nothing to prove anymore," said the 31-year-old from New South Wales who recently settled in Boston, USA.

Louise Crome - Vietnam WISPA squash open winner
Lincou Beats Iskandar (photo ©2008 Fritz Borchert)

"I don't think either of us played particularly well - but maybe I wanted it a bit more," added Palmer, now in his seventh semi in nine years.

The lower half of the women's draw was thrown into disarray when Jenny Duncalf defeated Rachael Grinham, the reigning world champion and former world number one.

The 25-year-old fifth seed from Harrogate had never before beaten the three times champion from Australia:  "I don't know what happened," said a seemingly startled Duncalf later.  "I had to keep reminding myself to stay focused - you can't afford to relax for a moment with Rachael, she's so good with the racquet."

In the first British Open semi-final of her career, Duncalf will face Isabelle Stoehr after the French qualifier earlier ousted Rachael's sister Natalie Grinham, the second seed.

Grinham junior, a record three times Commonwealth Games gold medallist, won the opening game - but, at 4-0 in the second, took a lunge which caused pain in her left thigh.

"I called for the physio at 6-4.  In the break, he said I could go back on but it might make it worse," explained the 30-year-old from Queensland who now flies the Dutch flag. 

Louise Crome - Vietnam WISPA squash open winner
Grainger advances (photo ©2008 Fritz Borchert)

"Sometimes pain just goes away, but when I tried a similar lunge at the beginning of the third game, the pain was so sharp I just had to stop.  Nothing like that has ever happened to me before."

Stoehr had mixed feelings about claiming her maiden appearance in the semi-finals:  "50% I'm happy and 50% I'm not," said the 28-year-old from Montpellier, who survived three qualifying matches before the first round.

"People say 'Isabelle is not fit'!  This is a good reply to those who say that. 

"Everything is now a bonus to me."

Later in the day, Malaysia's world number Nicol David recovered from a game and 5-2 down to beat difficult opponent Shelley Kitchen 7-9, 9-7, 9-5, 9-2.  The win avenged a shock second round loss to the New Zealander in last year's World Open in Madrid.

BRITISH OPEN 2008, Liverpool England

RESULTS
Men's quarter-final line-up:
[5] David Palmer (AUS) def [1] Amr Shabana (EGY) 11-6 3-11 11-5 11-8 (49m)
[7] Karim Darwish (EGY) def [3] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 11-9 11-7 11-3 (39m)
[4] James Willstrop (ENG) def [8] Peter Barker (ENG) 11-9 4-11 11-9 11-8
[6] Thierry Lincou (FRA) def [11] Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS) 11-8 11-7 11-8 (50m)

Women's quarter-final line-up:
[1] Nicol David (MAS) def [6] Shelley Kitchen (NZL) 7-9 9-7 9-5 9-2 (63m)
[4] Natalie Grainger (USA) def Laura Lengthorn-Massaro (ENG) 9-3 10-9 9-6 (46m)
[5] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) def [3] Rachael Grinham (AUS) 9-5 1-9 9-7 9-1 (54m)
[Q] Isabelle Stoehr (FRA) def [2] Natalie Grinham (NED) 6-9 9-6 1-0 retired (28m)

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