19, 2002 from Martin Bronstein
IS THE SOUND OF PUNCTURED BALLOON?
It was really all over before
it hardly started. The foregone conclusion that England’s number
three would beat the Australian number three was sadly, badly wrong.
And the day’s running order – 3,1,2 – also mitigated
against England’s strongest player, Tania Bailey, the number
two string whose match was reduced to a meaningless nonsense. Australia
regained their title from England and the hero will have to be Rachael
Grinham’s little sister Natalie.
Grinham's (AUS)(l) win over Stephanie Brind (ENG) clinches the
title (photo ©2002 Fritz Brochert)
Always seen as a weaker player, she went on court against Stephanie
Brind and played magnificently to reduce the English girl to a nervous,
error-strewn wreck. Nobody could have forecast this outcome and once
Grinham had taken the fourth game from a dejected Brind, the title
was as good as won.
Grinham made all the play from the start, which wasn’t all
good: she led 4-2 but had made four errors.She either won the point
with a winner or lost it with an error. Leading 4-1 she still did
not look as though she would outgun Brind and true enough Brind
started to take charge and move Grinham around. They played good
squash despite the ten errors they made between them. When Brind
was pasting the ball to the back and then putting in her drops,
she looked very good indeed. In this mode she went from 1-4 down
to win 9-5 in just over 11 minutes.
She started the second
in the same mode and we thought that things were beginning to unfold
as forecast. And then Brind lost it. Her volley drops were hitting
tin and a relaxed Grinham was beginning to read her game. Leading
4-2 Brind made her first error on a backhand drop and that was the
start of the downfall, hitting the ball down the middle, going for
far too many winners and gradually losing confidence as Grinham
pulled past her and surged to win 9-5. Yes, Brind made six unforced
errors but Grinham was playing out of her skin. This diminutive
player – surely no more than five feet tall – had the
air of a winner, suddenly became superwoman, getting to everything
and moving incredibly fast around the front of the court.
Brind could not bring
herself to play to length and in the third game the errors continued.
You could see the confidence oozing away and even at this stage
it was obvious that she would not recover and that Australia had
the title. Grinham constantly took Brind down to the front and found
At 11 ½ minutes this was the longest game of the match, and
featured a bit of a comeback from Brind from 3-7 to 6-7 and when
she tried to bury a Grinham serve but hit tin instead– she
faced game ball. She got in hand with a fine drive to length and
then Grinham got it back with a lucky nick from Brind’s serve.
The game ended with a stroke to Grinham, which just about summed
up Brind’s day.
NO WAY BACK
At 1/2 down the situation was desperate for England and from the
beginning the desperation showed as a demoralised Brind lost all
belief . Grinham gleefully ran away to a 7-0 lead and then gratefully
took two backhand errors from her opponent for the last two points
to win 9-3 for a famous, priceless victory.
When I asked her if she
had ever played better Natalie replied:
“Well I’ve never been so focussed. There was no pressure
on me at number three so I just chased every ball down. I had nothing
to lose. Stephanie is normally quite good at the front, but that
wasn’t my strategy. I take everybody to the front because
I know I’m so quick.”
FOR ONE GAME
The number ones came on,
Sarah Fitz-Gerald was a little cold and sloppy and Linda Charman took
the first game 9-2 to give England hope of another upset from the
form book. But Fitz-Gerald has been around too long and soon she was
smacking the ball from every angle and when she went for the kill
shot, she got it. The errors stopped and the points just rolled in.
Charman could stay with for a dozen shots but eventually you knew
that the world number one would garner another point on her way to
victory. She won the last three games for the loss of three points
and it was all over. They teams shook hands and Tania Bailey played
a best of three against Rachel Grinham in what should have been the
match of the final. Had the playing order been 2,1,3, with this match
leading off, thing might have been different. Bailey won 9-6, 9-2,
but nobody paid any attention.
Charman (ENG)(l) shines for one game against Sarah Fitz-Gerald(AUS)
(photo ©2002 Fritz Brochert)
DAMP SQUIBS BUT
Not a world championships to remember (except the super organisation)
because of the lack of real contenders and too many 3/0 results.
But that has to be expected sometimes.
We can only look forward to 2004 when Egypt will be stronger and
a real contender, New Zealand will be back in strength again and
Malaysia’s young team will have matured. Come to that England
will also be a little more experienced and we will almost certainly
far close matches all round.
Australia 2 England 1
Sarah Fitz-Gerald bt Linda Charman 2-9, 9-2, 9-0, 9-1
Rachael Grinham lost to Tania Bailey 9-6, 9-2.
Natalie Grinham bt Stephanie Brind 5-9,9-5, 9-7, 9-3.
1 Australia (1)
- World Champions (photo ©2002 Fritz Brochert)
2 England (2)
3 New Zealand (3)
4 Egypt (4)
5 Netherlands (6)
6 Scotland (5)
7 Malaysia (7)
8 South Africa (8)
9 Canada (9)
10 Germany (10)
11 Hong Kong (13)
12 Ireland (15)
13. France (14)
14. Spain (17)
15. USA (12)
16. Denmark (11)
17. Japan (18)
18. India (16)
19. Austria (19)