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Grainger falls to Jaclyn Hawkes
Oct 16, 2008, by Martin Bronstein for SquashTalk.com , Independent News; © 2008 SquashTalk LLC       

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[Men's Main Draw]     [Women's Main Draw]     [Most recent: Wednesday evening session]


Natalie Grainger was the lone USA survivor in this major tournament and by all rights should have gone through to the quarter-finals, but her usual demons struck and she found herself knocked out by a determined Jaclyn Hawkes of New Zealand after five error-strewn games. This was a bad loss
for the world number four to a player who has never been ranked higher than 17.

Grainger can be a notorious slow and nervous starter and instead of playing herself in by hitting good length and keeping her opponent in the back of the court Grainger could not stop herself going for winner from the very first rally. Her length was noticeably short while Hawles was
constantly getting the ball into the back with good length forcing Grainger to take it off the back wall. But those attempts at drops, volley drops and her favourite, the fading boast, kept on coming and kept on hitting the tin and in five minutes flat she had lost the game 11-5.

Grainger obviously gave herself a good talking to in the break, because she came back for the second game a different player, creaming the ball to the back corners and thus hitting good length. Her drop shots were now working because she was waiting until the right moment – Hawkes out of
position – before executing the shot.

These were short sharp rallies and the second game was soon over in Grainger’s favour 11-5 in just six minutes. (The new scoring does not test the women’s fitness levels).

Tragically, the lessons of the second game were soon forgotten, and once more the length fell off and the errors crept back in. Hawkes played steadily and in truth was playing tighter shots while too many of Grainger’s shots were well away from the wall. Hawkes took the game 11-8 in seven minutes to take an unexpected lead.

The fourth game saw Hawkes’ level drop slightly while Grainger managed to pull her level up to dominate the game. For once we saw some rallies that lasted longer than eight strokes and the play showed just how good Grainger can be when her mind is in the right place. Many years ago I asked the great Heather McKay when you should play a drop and her reply was “When you have worked to earn it.” It’s a reply that Grainger should say ten times before going on court.

Grainger won the fourth game 11-6 to tie the match and then managed to keep her level up in the fourth, hit three forehand drops to come back from 1-3 down and from 5-5 moved to a comfortable 8-3 to suggest that she was taking her rightful place.

But then the real tragedy unfolded: Hawkes earned a stroke to make the score 8-6, Grainger hit a backhand boast – another one – into the tin to make it 8-7. Another forehand drop hit the tin and then a Grainger brainstorm as she tried to hit the serve into the nick and hit the tin again. Hawkes now led 9-8 and Grainger rather than get back into some serious length drives went for her drops and hit the tin twice more to end the game. That was five errors in five rallies – unforgiveable at this level of competition. Hawkes was as surprised as she was delighted. She said later that she never expected to win, she just want to play well.

Grainger will go home wondering what she has to do to stop the errors.

Daryl Selby is much better than he looks. Or perhaps I should say his style of play is deceptive. I was unmoved by his win over Olli Tuominen although he was cock-a-hoop at his level of play. I watched him beat Migual Rodriguez and again thought there was nothing to write home about, but his father Paul, a well known coach, said he thought Daryl had played exceptionally well. (I never argue with coaches).

Today he faced the very tough and very skilled David Palmer and this would show just how good this youngster is. Well, his dad was right – Daryl is playing well enough to keep Palmer on court for 83 minutes; indeed there were times when there was a distinctly possibility that he would get the
best of the lanky Aussie.

The first game was 18 minutes long and it was typical of today’s version of the game: hard rallies, tight drives and use of all four corners – and very few errors. Selby showed he had every right to be on the same court as Palmer even though he lost the game 11-5.

In the second game Selby benefited from four errors by Palmer to move to a 5-1 lead and maintain his standard of play to lead 8-3. There was very little that Palmer could hand out that Selby couldn’t handle. His coverage of the court was superb and under pressure he could always produce a good shot. But Palmer gradually raised his game and won seven of the next eight rallies to reach game ball 10-9 but was penalised a stroke to force a tiebreaker. Selby was unfazed by the situation, kept
his cool and won it 13-11 after 28 minutes to tie the match.

This was not expected: Selby is ranked 36th in the world, while Palmer is number four. That sort of disparity in ranking normally results in a very quick steamroller result. Selby looked good for the fight and has proved in the past that he has the fitness to go for over two hours.

The third game saw a number of collisions and some trips. On one of them Selby was visibly hurt in the right knee and a few rallies later he winced after going down court for a shot. It was affecting his play and it was not surprising that this was the shortest game of the match at 12 minutes
and that Palmer won it 11-3.

Doubts that Selby would continue were cast aside when he returned for the fourth game and took the lead from the start. He received a whack on the racket arm from Palmer which tied the game at 3-3 but showed just how tough he was by continuing to stay the pace with Palmer. Once again a tie
break was necessary and the last three points were a questionable pick-up by Palmer, which the refs judged good and two no-lets against Selby, which gave Palmer the game 12-10 after another hard 19 minutes.

Palmer showed again that he is never beaten until he loses the final point, which is what the top players do. Selby showed great maturity in the way he played and the way he handled himself. It is also fairly certain that by the middle of next year, Selby will be in the top 20 and within 12 months knocking on the door of the top ten.

Madeline Perry, the Irish number one who suffered a freak accident last year is finally back to form and although only ranked 16 now has been as high as number six in the world. She beat Shelley Kitchen, ranked 10, in straight games. This was no surprise as Perry had shown fine form in
beating the Engy Kheirallah of Egypt over 72 minutes in the first round. Tomorrow she will face Jaclyn Hawkes in the quarters and should have no trouble reach the semis as I think she has too much skill for Hawkes to handle.

James Willstrop spent an entertaining 48 minutes on court with the best player ever to come out of Italy, Davide Bianchetti. Willstrop won in straight games but Bianchetti demonstrated once again his marvellous skill with the racket which should really have him ranked higher than his
present 30 in the world. In the third game he was given a conduct stroke for ball abuse which put Willstrop at match ball, which he proceeded to win to put him on the path to a quarter-final showdown with David Palmer. That is going to be the match of the day, in my opinion. Gregory
Gaultier, the number two seed, will be watching that with interest – he will almost certainly be playing the winner in the semis and will be hoping that Willstrop and Palmer will wear each other out.

Hi-Tec World Open Manchester, UK
Men's Round of 16:
[1] Amr Shabana (EGY) bt [9] Wael El Hindi (EGY) 11-9 2-11 11-4 12-14 11-6 (84m)
[Q] Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) bt Hisham Mohd Ashour (EGY) 11-4, 6-11, 11-8, 10-12, 13-11 (45m)
[4] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [12] Peter Barker (ENG) 11-8, 11-13, 11-8, 11-6 (60m)
[8] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [15] Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) 11-7, 11-6, 11-13, 11-4 (60m)
[5] David Palmer (AUS) bt Daryl Selby (ENG) 11-5, 11-13, 11-3, 12-10 (83mins)
[3] James Willstrop (ENG) v Davide Bianchetti (ITA) 11-7 13-11 11-8 (48m)
[7] Karim Darwish (EGY) v Alister Walker (ENG)
[2] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v [14] Adrian Grant (ENG)

Women's Round of 16:
[1] Nicol David (MAS) v [13] Rebecca Chiu (HKG)
[9] Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) bt [8] Laura Lengthorn-Massaro (ENG) 21-23 19-17 12-14 11-6 11-7
Jaclyn Hawkes (NZL) bt [4] Natalie Grainger (USA) 11-5 5-11 11-8 6-11 11-8
[14] Madeline Perry (IRL) bt [6] Shelley Kitchen (NZL) 11-5 11-6 11-2
[5] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) bt [12] Kasey Brown (AUS) 11-8, 11-2, 13-11 (33m)
[3] Natalie Grinham (NED) bt [Q] Annie Au (HKG) 11-6, 11-7, 11-4 (27m)
[7] Alison Waters (ENG) bt [15] Isabelle Stoehr (FRA) 11-3, 11-1, 11-7 (25m)
[11] Vicky Botwright (ENG) bt [2] Rachael Grinham (AUS) 5-11 13-11 11-8 11-8 (47m)





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