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Grinham stuns Brown in Canberra

Former champion Natalie Grinham caused the biggest upset of the Viridian Australian Open squash championships in Canberra when she bundled fifth seed Kasey Brown out of the second round on Thursday.

Grinham stunned the world number six in four tense games 11-9, 7-11, 12-10, 11-9 to move into the quarter-finals where she will play second seeded Englishwoman Jenny Duncalf, an 11-5, 11-3, 11-1  winner over Switzerland’s Gaby Huber.

Brown, who was suffering with an undisclosed illness throughout the match, was undone by the speed and court coverage from her former Australian teammate.

While the much taller Brown dominated the front of the court, Grinham seemed to chase almost every shot down with incredible tenacity, coming back from 10-5 down to win the third game and gain a vital advantage.

As the match wore on, Brown became obviously distressed, doubling over between points in a bid to recover. However, Grinham was relentless as she overcame the fifth seed to join older sister Rachael in the final eight.

Grinham, who now plays for the Netherlands, is a former world number two who is coming back to top form after taking time off the tour to have her first baby 16 months ago.

She struggled for fitness initially but is now able to mix it with the elite players.

“I feel much faster now than before,” she said. “Perhaps I should have had my baby earlier in my career.”

Grinham paid tribute to Brown for not giving up despite her illness. “She gave everything she had, even though she obviously wasn’t feeling well,” Grinham said.

Duncalf looked in superb touch as she disposed of Huber in the last match of the women’s second round. She was always in complete control and later admitted her big match experience gave her a tremendous help.

“I felt really good today, I’ve got lots of experience playing on the glass court whereas Gaby doesn’t,” she said. “So that’s a big advantage for me.”

Defending champion Madeline Perry of Ireland recovered from a second game blip to see off Hong Kong’s Joey Chan 11-8, 6-11, 11-3, 11-2.

Perry won the Singapore Masters in the lead-up to the Open and said she had probably relaxed too much during the early stages of her match against Chan.

“Coming off a big win like I had in Singapore, it’s hard to focus sometimes,” Perry said. “Instead of thinking about winning points, I was thinking about winning the match. At the start of the third I concentrated on what I had to do and it all clicked into place.”

She now takes on 2009 champion Joelle King of New Zealand in the quarter-finals following King’s 11-5, 13-11, 11-9 win over young Malaysian Delia Arnold.

“I am going to have to play like I did in the third and fourth for the whole match against Joelle if I want to beat her.
“She beat me in Malaysia so it would be nice to get one back.”

King got off to a great start before allowing Arnold back into the contest with a string of unforced errors.

She clinched the second game in a tiebreak before racing away to a 10-5 lead in the third, then holding off a late comeback from the Malaysian.

King said she had been hit with an attack of nerves playing on the all-glass court in the Royal Theatre.

“I love playing on the glass, it suits my game,” the world number 13 said. “But I had a few nerves early on. It’s quite different playing in an arena like this so I’m just happy to come away with a three-love victory.”

She said her second game lapses were the result of nerves. “I was ridiculously nervous, I just couldn’t seem to calm myself down,” King said. “Obviously I knew it was going to be a tough match against Delia so there were a lot of added nerves there but somehow I managed to pull through.”

Second round, bottom half:
[2] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) bt [16] Gaby Huber (SUI) 11-5, 11-3, 11-1
[10] Natalie Grinham (NED) bt [5] Kasey Brown (AUS) 11-9, 7-11, 12-10, 11-9
[8] Joelle King (NZL) bt [12] Delia Arnold (MAS) 11-5, 13-11, 11-9
[4] Madeline Perry (IRL) bt [11] Joey Chan (HKG) 11-8, 6-11, 11-3, 11-2

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