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Rachael Grinham (right) in action against Nour Aboulmakarim (left)

Black Ball RD1: Grinham Battles Back From Brink

Australia’s former World No.1 Rachael Grinham was forced to come from two games down and save two match balls to take out Egyptian rising star Nour Abouelmakarim to book her place in the second round of the CIB Black Ball Squash Open.

2007 World Champion Grinham found herself staring down the barrel of defeat after 17-year-old Aboulmakarim got off to a scintillating start with her deadly finishing to put the Australian under huge amounts of pressure and take a two-game lead in a meeting of youth against experience.

It looked as though the wildcard, who is a local player to the Black Ball Sporting Club, was going to claim the biggest win of her career as she went on to control the third, however, a dogged performance from Grinham saw her battle back from the brink, saving two match balls, to take the third.

From then on Grinham utilised all of her incredible experience to try and nullify the shot making talents of the young Egyptian to seal a 9-11, 7-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-8 comeback.

Grinham will face Belgium’s World No.18 Nele Gilis in the second round on Tuesday, March 10.

“I have absolutely no idea how I managed to win,” said Grinham following her win.

“The match began and I felt like I wasn’t timing the ball well, I was loose and she was absolutely killing it. She was smacking it around and I felt like I didn’t have any time to think about what was going on and somehow I managed to pull the third back and I was basically telling myself to hang in there.

“I knew she was going to be in a position where she felt like she should win from this and I thought that instead of giving her easy shots, I needed to try and put it in the back and make her go for things and at least try to make it a bit harder.

“It’s incredible, whether it’s Nour or any of the other young Egyptians, you can never underestimate them no matter how they are.”

Emily Whitlock

On the traditional court, Emily Whitlock had to call upon her reserves to prevent a comeback from compatriot Jasmine Hutton.

The two players were due to play each other in the semi-finals of the recent British National Championship but Whitlock was forced to pull out due to injury.

Whitlock took the first game, before Hutton equalised. It was then two tie-breaks that the World No.25 had to negotiate in order to keep Hutton at bay and take an 11-6, 9-11, 13-11, 12-10 and set up a second round clash against English No.1 Sarah-Jane Perry.

“She played really well, you could see that, whatever her game plan was, she was going for it,” said Whitlock.

“Her forehand was really good, my volleying was not good enough today. I saw her play and she can play a lot of tins, but not today, she played very few errors, I think I did too, it was a very high quality match from both of us, it was very structured, but I guess that gave her the time to adjust her shot and implement her game plan.

“After the second game, I told my dad. I’m trying to find my form, I’m trying to play the level I can play when I’m not jaded. And I have been in her shoes, the young coming up player, but at her age, I was playing a very attritional squash, and she isn’t. She is taking her chances. And I thought, am I being given a lesson by that young player?

“After the third, I thought, I can play a long game now, I had a day of rest tomorrow, it doesn’t matter, I was not afraid of making it last.”

Results:
Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt [WC] Nour Aboulmakarim (EGY) 3-2: 9-11, 7-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-8 (67m)
Emily Whitlock (ENG) bt Jasmine Hutton (ENG) 3-1: 11-6, 9-11, 13-11, 12-10 (53m)

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