Following some major upsets in round two of the Qatar Classic, the remaining seeded players resumed normality in progressing through to the semi finals.
Malaysian Nicol David continued her battle to retain her Qatar title by beating Egypt’s Raneem El Weleily in the first quarter-final match in Qatar’s capital city Doha.
The World Champion led the game early on but the young El Weleily played some good squash to draw level at 5-5. A lapse in concentration allowed David to get in front of her opponent and a number of unforced errors consigned El Weleily to an 11-6 defeat in the first game.
Raneem seemed to respond well initially but she was unable to keep further errors from her game and David was happy to retrieve and wait for the errors which became more frequent as the game progressed.
The third game showed a more consistent approach from El Weleily. She fought well to stay level, having found a better length than in previous games and even pulled ahead at 8-7. But Nicol dug in and extended the rallies in the hunt for Raneem’s inevitable errors to come through and David closed out the win in 27 minutes. 11-6, 11/4, 11/8
Experienced number three seed Rachael Grinham played young Englishwoman Emma Beddoes in the second quarter-final of the day.
Beddoes started well, utilising a good
cross court drop that Grinham struggled to respond to as the younger player clawed back three game balls to lead at 11-10. Grinham’s tour experience worked in her favour however, as she stayed with her opponent, giving little away and eventually forcing an error to claim a tight first game 14-12.
Grinham raced to an early 6-0 lead in the second, through a combination of mid-court domination and a number of errors from Beddoes. Beddoes was unable to find a consistent length and struggled to find the corners, allowing Grinham to work the volley to her advantage and punishing any lose shots, winning 11/4.
Beddoes started brightly in the third. She was explosive into the front of the court and gained three quick points having forced Grinham out of position. Grinham held her nerve though, and weathered the storm to fight back to 6-6, stopping Beddoes getting comfortable on the Tee. Steady, patient play worked in Grinhams favour and her retrieval from the back was paramount in extending a lead late on to hold and win match-ball, 11-7.
The number four seed
Madeline Perry continued her run of 3-0 wins in Qatar with deceptively close 11-8, 11-5, 11-9 victory over Malaysian Low Wee Wern. Low claimed a four-game win over number five seed Laura Massaro in round two, and Perry was well aware of what would happen if she lost focus. The Irish international volleyed well though, and was a dominating court presence throughout. Despite a more open third game, Perry was able to increase the pressure on her opponent and close out the win in 42 minutes.
The last quarter final of the day was a fast-paced, all-Egyptian affair between number 13 seed Nour El Tayeb and Nour El Sherbini. A repeat of the World Junior Open Final in July as well as the Alexandria Open Final in September, both players know each others game well and as such, raced out of the blocks with short, quick-fire rallies and neither player really gaining momentum over the other. El Tayeb, who defeated number 2 seed Jenny Duncalf in the previous round, won the first game narrowly 11-8, but was met with resistance in the second by a determined and more consistent El Sherbini who claimed the second 11-5.
El Tayeb then came from 5-7 down in the third to win a succession of points on the bounce and win the game 11-8, reclaiming her lead. Neither player wanted to concede the fourth game, a point made evident by some aggressive shot selection from both players, and El Tayeb’s retrieval sending her flying across the floor on a number of occasions.
At 9-6 up, El Tayeb may have thought the match was hers, but a stubborn El Sherbini refused to give in and fought back, sending the game to a tie-break. It was the higher seed who wanted it more in the end though, finishing off her match ball at the second time of asking to book her place in the semi final, against the number four seed Madeline Perry.
photos Janos Schmidt