Australia’s former World No.1 Rachael Grinham twice battled back from a game down to defeat America’s Haley Mendez in a thrilling five-game battle on the glass court inside Drexel University at the FS Investments U.S. Open Squash Championships.
Mendez had never beaten the former World Champion in their three previous meetings on the PSA Tour and it looked as though it could be her day as she took a 2-1 lead, however, the bold resilience of Grinham showed through as she secured a second round berth in Philadelphia.
World No.42 Mendez started brightly to take the opening game and looked as though she was going to double her advantage after taking a substantial lead in the second. However, Grinham, who is the most experienced player on the PSA Tour at 42-years-old, soon reigned in the American’s lead as she took full advantage of Mendez’s loss of accuracy.
Mendez did not let the missed opportunity to pull ahead phase her, however, as she regrouped to move her position further up on court and play positive squash to take the lead once more by a 11-4 margin.
Grinham was not going down without a fight though as she once again levelled the scores before pulling away in the fifth. It was a tight finish as to who was going to book their place in the second round of the first PSA Platinum event of the season as Mendez bravely saved five of Grinham’s match balls before the Australian was able to close out on her sixth attempt in the tie-break.
She will face Hong Kong's Annie Au in the next round.
Silky skills from the veteran
Rachaelgrinham</a> here in Philly! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USOpenSquash?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USOpenSquash</a> <a href="https://t.co/hRVA8lwLrG">pic.twitter.com/hRVA8lwLrG</a></p>— PSA World Tour (PSAWorldTour) October 5, 2019
“I think that was my turnaround really, when I was down in that third game I just thought 'try and hang in there and get some benefit out of it',” said former World No.1 Grinham.
“I was just trying to find some length to just not let her win and get some rallies together. I started to get some points together then and I thought this is obviously what I have been doing wrong. I was trying to attack too early in the beginning and she was moving well.
“At the end of the third when that happened, I thought 'I need to keep this going' and I then sort of stayed in the points and got a lot closer.
“I don't think my experience really came into it, I was down in the first game and the same in the third. At 10-6 up I was thinking 'I should have this', but a few shots and basic things that I should have finished the rally and won them, I put in the tin.
“It could have gone either way at the end and I'm just glad I was able to take it.”
Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt Haley Mendez (USA) 3-2: 6-11, 11-7, 4-11, 11-4, 13-11 (46m)