England’s Nick Matthew and New Zealander Joelle King will be going for double gold in the Commonwealth Games Squash Doubles finals after both survived arduous semi-finals at the Siri Fort Sports Complex in Delhi today.
Matthew, the world No2 from Sheffield who won singles gold for the first time last week, partnered Adrian Grant to an 11-10, 11-9 win in 65 minutes over fourth-seeded Australians Ryan Cuskelly & Cameron Pilley in the Men’s Doubles semi-finals.
But Joelle King, the world No24 from Cambridge, had to play three matches today. After first winning her Mixed Doublesquarter-final with Martin Knight, the 22-year-old paired up with Jaclyn Hawkes to upset Australia’s No2 seeds Lisa Camilleri & Amelia Pittock 5-11, 11-5, 11-5 in a Women’s Doubles semi – then immediately afterwards linked back with Knight in their 11th-seeded Mixed partnership to see off the third-seeded Malaysians Nicol David & Ong Beng Hee 11-7, 11-10 in 53 minutes.
“I’m hungry” was the Kiwi’s immediate response when asked by an NZ TV crew how she felt after her second triumph! “I haven’t eaten for a long time.”
In describing the match, King said: “It was pretty neck-and-neck – but we both played pretty good squash out there today.
“Gold? That would be amazing – and it would be pretty surreal.”
‘Surreal’ was also how Knight described the dying minutes of the match: “That last rally was surreal – it seemed to go on forever. I’m just so happy to be in the final. I can’t keep the smile off my face.
“It’s only our second event together,” continued the Wellington-born 26-year-old, ranked 44 in the world. “But we know each other really well, and hopefully we can keep this going.”
After claiming their surprise place in the Women’s final – after which Joelle King had to rush off to prepare for the immediately-following Mixed semi – an exuberant Jaclyn Hawkes spoke for the pair: “The match was really tough – we had to keep our heads. Our coach Anthony Ricketts gave us some good advice after the first game – we had to get a better width, and this put them under pressure.”
The world No14 from Auckland was asked how good it was to beat the Aussie pair? “We don’t want to beat anyone more than Aussies,” said Hawkes.
And on the certainty of a medal, the 27-year-old gushed: “I’m so happy! This is what we’ve been training for for the last four years. We’ve been funded and everything we’ve been working for is this – this is the pinnacle for us.”
Nick Matthew, who suffered an illness setback last month, has been improving each day since arriving in Delhi. He andAdrian Grant are seeded to retain the Men’s Doubles gold medal for England, after Peter Nicol & Lee Beachill won the title for the second time in a row in 2006 – when Nicol also clinched the singles gold.
“Going for a second gold medal is going to be incredible,” said 30-year-old Matthew. “What Peter Nicol achieved last time was massive.
“We’re top seeds and we earned that billing. Yesterday was good – the Malaysians pushed us hard and we took a lot from that match.
“Adrian was brilliant,” added the Yorkshireman. “He was definitely my ‘man of the match’.”
Left-hander Grant, going for his maiden Games medal, is keen to help his partner: “I want to give him the chance to get a second gold medal.
“You can’t underestimate anybody in doubles,” explained the London-born world No14 when asked how he viewed his opposition in the final.
The favourites will meet Australia’s second seeds Stewart Boswell & David Palmer, who ended the run of Scottish outsiders Alan Clyne & Harry Leitch, the fifth seeds who ousted England’s No3 seeds Peter Barker & Daryl Selby in the previous round.
Boswell, the world No19 from Canberra, is celebrating his third successive appearance in the Men’s final, but looking for his first gold medal. Palmer, a former world number one, is also after his first gold – but is certain to win a record-equalling sixth Games medal, with one silver and four bronzes already in his collection.
“It’s nice to know that I’m going to get some kind of a medal,” said Palmer after the pair’s 11-10, 11-6 win in 73 minutes over the Scots. “So far, it’s been a great doubles week for me.”
When asked to comment on the Scottish pair – featuring Clyne, a full-time player ranked 50 in the world, and unranked Leitch, a Cambridge University graduate studying for a PhD in developmental and embryonic stem cell biology – Palmer said: “They’ve obviously put in a lot of work – they play a style that’s difficult to beat.
“They have boundless energy – and are obviously up for it. We had to nullify that. It was nice that we were able to get a few points’ lead each game – playing catch-up is hard in doubles,” explained the 34-year-old from New South Wales.
Boswell, a UK-based former world No4, said: “It’s good to be in my third final – but this time I want to win!”
Harry Leitch and Alan Clyne were clearly disappointed that their gold campaign had come to an end: “They won the crucial points today,” said 25-year-old Leitch. “But the dream is still alive for us – we’re ready for tomorrow.”
Inverness-born Clyne added: “We came here for a medal – and we’ve still got that chance.”
England’s last-minute pairing Jenny Duncalf & Laura Massaro were the first to claim a final place. The third seeds, brought together when Duncalf’s original partner Alison Waters was forced to withdraw with an Achilles injury, recovered from a game down to upset top-seeded Australians Kasey Brown & Donna Urquhart 6-11, 11-5, 11-4 in 58 minutes in the first Women’s Doubles semi.
“Although it’s our first tournament together, we felt quietly confident,” said Duncalf, winner of a silver medal in the singles. “Any of us could have played together.
“The pressure was on them, as the top seeds. We improved as the game went on. In doubles, you have to be ever so consistent in what you do,” added the world No2 from Harrogate.
“As soon as we won, I went a bit goose-pimply!”
Massaro explained the depth of their friendship: “We’ve played each other since we were 14 – we know each others’ personalities so well,” said the 26-year-old from Preston.
“It took me a game to settle down. But at 4-1 in the third, I thought ‘we can win here’.
“It’s amazing to think I’ve got a medal.”
Hopes of a double gold for women’s singles winner Nicol David ran out in the world number one from Malaysia’s second Mixed Pairs match today. After beating the hosts’ last remaining medal hopes Joshna Chinappa & Saurav Ghosal in three close-fought games, David and Ong Beng Hee went down to Kiwis Joelle King & Martin Knight in the semis.
“We didn’t play as well as we could,” said Beng Hee, a former world No7 from Kuala Lumpur, “We had a hard match this morning and didn’t have enough time to recover. We had a terrible start in the first game.”
David added: “Everything went their way really – we did what we could.
“I’m disappointed – especially as we know we can play better.”
After their earlier quarter-final match, in which the Indian 2010 Commonwealth Games squash campaign finally came to an end, Saurav was unable to be upbeat: “Right now, there are no positives,” said the Kolkata-born 24-year-old world No26 – India’s highest-ranked player of all-time. “At the end of the day we lost – and we haven’t got a medal.
“Anything short of a medal is not good enough.”
Cyrus Poncha, India’s national coach, took a broader view: “We had certainly set our hopes on winning a medal, but I feel we’ve got a lot of positives out of the event. I’m quite pleased with the results – and it’s been a great two weeks for Indian squash.
“However, losing Dipika (Pallikal) was certainly a major blow,” added Poncha, referring to the 19-year-old world No33 who was forced to withdraw from the entire competition after being struck down by a fever.
The final match on the all-glass show-court at the Siri Fort complex produced another Australian bid for gold when top seedsKasey Brown & Cameron Pilley beat compatriots Donna Urquhart & David Palmer, the No8 seeds, 11-10, 11-10 in 68 minutes to set up a Mixed final against New Zealand’s 11th seeds Joelle King & Martin Knight.
For more info, visit the WSF’s dedicated Commonwealth Games site www.cwgsquash.com
Men’s Doubles semi-finals:
 Adrian Grant & Nick Matthew (ENG) bt  Ryan Cuskelly & Cameron Pilley (AUS) 11-10, 11-9 (65m)
 Stewart Boswell & David Palmer (AUS) bt  Alan Clyne & Harry Leitch (SCO) 11-10, 11-6 (73m)
Women’s Doubles semi-finals:
 Jenny Duncalf & Laura Massaro (ENG) bt  Kasey Brown & Donna Urquhart (AUS) 6-11, 11-5, 11-4 (58m)
 Jaclyn Hawkes & Joelle King (NZL) bt  Lisa Camilleri & Amelia Pittock (AUS) 5-11, 11-5, 11-5 (50m)
Mixed Doubles quarter-finals:
 Kasey Brown & Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt  Jenny Duncalf & James Willstrop (ENG) 11-7, 7-11, 11-8 (104m)
 Donna Urquhart & David Palmer (AUS) bt  Lisa Aitken & Harry Leitch (SCO) 11-3, 11-3 (28m)
 Nicol David & Ong Beng Hee (MAS) bt  Joshna Chinappa & Saurav Ghosal (IND) 11-5, 7-11, 11-7 (59m)
 Joelle King & Martin Knight (NZL) bt  Jaclyn Hawkes & Campbell Grayson (NZL) 11-6, 11-9 (50m)
 Kasey Brown & Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt  Donna Urquhart & David Palmer (AUS) 11-10, 11-10 (68m)
 Joelle King & Martin Knight (NZL) bt  Nicol David & Ong Beng Hee (MAS) 11-7, 11-10 (53m)