After semi-final upsets over the second seeds, both Germany’s Simon Rosner and Dutch champion Natalie Grinham will compete in the squash finals of the World Games, the multi-sport games which is celebrating its 9th edition in the Colombian city of Cali.
The World Games squash action – featuring 40 of the sport’s leading men and women athletes, representing 20 member nations – is taking place at Club Caniasgordas, which boasts six glass back courts plus an all-glass show court.
Third seed Grinham will meet top seed Nicol David – the world number one from Malaysia bidding to win a third successive World Games gold medal – in a repeat of the 2009 women’s final, whilst Rosner, also a third seed, takes on France’s world No2 Gregory Gaultier, the men’s favourite, in the other final.
The top four seeds contested the women’s semi-finals after surviving the last eight round earlier in the day. World No9 Grinham ended the brave run of Japan’s 9/16 seed Misaki Kobayashi in the quarter-finals before lining up against Low Wee Wern, the world No6 from Malaysia with whom she shared a one-all head-to-head record.
“The match was of good quality with great frontcourt play from Natalie and excellent retrieving by Low,” reported event spokesman Major Maniam after Grinham’s 11-7, 2-11, 11-4, 11-4 victory. “Natalie played an outstanding tactical game to upset the second seed. She was aggressive and used her chances well.
“Low on the other hand was too defensive and did not use the front of the court enough. Low did play attacking squash in the second but could not produce that game after that. Both players showed true sportsmanship as they owned up to a number of double pickups as well as agreeing to a let when no let was called. The packed crowd thoroughly enjoyed the show.”
The other women’s semi produced the latest milestone in the sensational career of Nicol David, the 29-year-old from Penang who this month begins her eighth unbroken year at the top of the women’s world squash rankings!
David – who has not only not lost a match in the World Games since making her debut in July 2005, but has also not dropped a game – wrapped up her 12th successive win in the event by beating France’s No4 seed Camille Serme, the world No12, 11-5, 11-5, 11-8.
“Nicol was a phenomenon,” said Maniam. “She was calm and composed even though she was trailing in the third. Camille gave it everything she had but simply was not as consistent to beat Nicol today. Nicol makes the game look so simple. Perhaps it really is!”
Four players from four different countries lined up in the men’s semi-finals. The opening encounter saw seven-time German champion Rosner take on England’s Peter Barker, the world No7 from London who boasts an unbeaten Tour record over the German stretching back three years.
“It was a match that showcased the talents of two outstanding squash players,” Maniam explained. “If one expected a long drawn out affair, it was quickly proven wrong as Simon displayed some awe-inspiring squash that had the crowd supporting and cheering him on. Peter played steady squash but it was Simon who was creative, deceptive and less error-prone.”
Rosner romped home with an unexpected but well-deserved 11-8, 11-7, 11-8 victory. When asked how he was able to bounce around the court after the energy-sapping match earlier against France’s Mathieu Castagnet, Rosner said: “I was really tired after the afternoon match, but I had a session with my physio and I am feeling fine. He must have done something good.”
The 25-year-old world No12 from Paderborn later told his Twitter followers: “Too good to be true … In the final of the World Games. Beating P.Barker for the first time and 3:0”
Local hero Miguel Angel Rodriguez, the sixth seed from Colombia, produced the shock of the men’s quarter-finals when he defeated fourth-seeded Australian Cameron Pilley 5-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-6.
His semi-final match against event favourite Gregory Gaultier brought the day’s squash session to an appropriate climax, despite finishing half an hour after midnight! In their previous two meeting, Gaultier recorded 3/0 wins – but Rodriguez has since made his first appearance in the world top 20 and is not only Colombia’s highest-ranked player of all-time, but the second highest-ranked South American ever.
“The final match of the day was as good as one would expect of two extremely fit and skilled players,” reported Maniam. “Gregory started off at a furious pace and was in control for the first two games. The third was looking like it was going Gregory’s way when a lapse in concentration gave Miguel confidence and the next game.
“The fourth was closely fought and the rallies were long and hard laced with some outstanding deception and retrieving by both players. In the end it was Greg’s finishing shots that saw him home 11-6, 11-5, 8-11, 11-9 – and into his first World Games final. Sorry Colombia!
“The gallery was packed to the brim until the end at 12.30 a.m. and they were treated to the highest level of squash by the most talented squash players; what a treat, what a show.”
RESULTS: World Games, Cali, Colombia
Squash Championship – Men’s quarter-finals:
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt  Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 11-6, 11-4, 11-4
 Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt  Cameron Pilley (AUS) 5-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-6
 Simon Rosner (GER) bt [9/16] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 11-8, 10-12, 11-9, 12-10
 Peter Barker (ENG) bt  Ong Beng Hee (MAS) 11-4, 11-8, 11-4
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt  Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 11-6, 11-5, 8-11, 11-9
 Simon Rosner (GER) bt  Peter Barker (ENG) 11-8, 11-7, 11-8
 Nicol David (MAS) bt  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 11-9, 11-9, 11-8
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt  Rachael Grinham (AUS) 7-11, 11-3, 11-7, 11-5
 Natalie Grinham (NED) bt [9/16] Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) 9-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-5
 Low Wee Wern (MAS) bt [9/16] Emma Beddoes (ENG) 11-8, 11-6, 11-8
 Nicol David (MAS) bt  Camille Serme (FRA) 11-5, 11-5, 11-8
 Natalie Grinham (NED) bt  Low Wee Wern (MAS) 11-7, 2-11, 11-4, 11-4