Day Four – Semi-Finals
Defending Champions through to finals in Manchester
The semi-finals started with the women’s matches – or to be more precise match, after the withdrawal of the Australian pairing of Rachael Grinham & Donna Urquhart after Urquhart’s injury during the earlier quarter-finals.
That put top seeds and defending champions Joelle King & Amanda Landers-Murphy into the final, awaiting the winner of England’s Jenny Duncalf & Alison Waters and Indian Commonwealth champions Joshna Chinappa and DipikaPallikal.
The Indians took the lead 11/6, but the English battled back, levelling 11/6 and leading through the third as they built up a 10/6 lead. They thought they’d won it at the first attempt but a let was awarded to the Indian pair, who saved two match balls with crisp winners.
After a scrambling last rally which saw the Indians switch sides, Pallikal asked for a let on a ball that was clinging to the left hand wall – no let this time, and the English were in the final.
“I was really under the cosh in the first,” admitted Duncalf. “They’re obviously very experienced at this, and the pace and power of their shots was catching us out. But we changed tctics in the second and managed to work it out.
“Ali and I are best friends and we always thought we’d play well together. She was injured for Glasgow so hopefully we can stay together for one more shot at the Commonwealths next year.
“For now though, we’re just really chuffed to be in the final.”
Top seeds and defending champions in the Mixed, New Zealand’s Paul Coll & Joelle King seem to be improving match by match after their surprise loss in the pools. Against veteran Aussie pair David Palmer & Rachael Grinham – wwho won the 2004 event in Chennai – they stayed in control for most of the match, winning 11/8, 11/8 to return to the final.
“We lost a pool match last year and managed to come back then,” said Coll. “We feel comfortable with how we’re playing, Joelle is hitting the ball better and better, and we know what to expect of each other. We’re playing well and obviously we’re pleased to be back in the final.”
There they’ll meet the English duo of Daryl Selby & Alison Waters, who ended the run of Wales’ Peter Creed & Tesni Evans in a nailbiting semi-final. The English saved game ball to take the lead 11/10, the Welsh coming from 2-8 down in the second, saving two match balls to equalise 11/10.
“It was a tough battle, we thought we’d won it in the second at 8/2 but they fought back so well,” said Selby. “They;re very gritty and tough competitors with lots of skill and good movement, so we just had to try to keep it steady.
“It feels great to be in two finals after two tough matches,” said Waters. “I’ll be playing the Kiwis in both so it’s the same for them, really looking forward to it.”
There was to be no English hat-trick, as Australian second seeds Cameron Pilley & Ryan Cuskelly overpowered Declan James & James Willstrop in the men’s semis.
“We got off to a good start, and kept our concentration to finish it off,2 said Cuskelly. “We lost a bit iof focus in the second, but from 7-all we tightened up again and finished it off well.
“That’s our best performance in the tournament so far, it seems we’re getting better round by round, just how we like it!”
In the final they’ll meet top seeds and defending champions Alan Clyne & Greg Lobban, the Scottish pair who beat Kiwis Paul Coll and Campbell Grayson 2-1 in the longest match of the tournament so far.
The Scots took the first 11/7, and led 7-1 in the second before a Kiwi comeback levelled the match 11/8. The Scottish pair led 7-1 in the third too, but this time the Kiwis couldn’t quite close the gap, losing out 11/8 after 82 minutes.
“We always knew it would be a long, tough match against them,” said Lobban, “keeping it tight and not making mistakes, that’s their strength. But we knew that if we stuck to our game plan and played well we could win.
“We maybe saw the finishing line a bit early in the second and stopped attacking, which you just can’t do in doubles, but we managed to get back in track in the third. Great to keep the title defence going…”
Day Four of the WSF World Doubles in Manchester started with the Mixed Quarter-finals.
“I went for a shot, hit a winner, but when I turned round I knew I’d done something to my calf,” said a disappointed Urquhart [she subsequently pulled out of tonight’s Women’s semi-final].
They’ll meet fiery Welsh couple Peter Creed & Tesni Evans, who came through a thriller against Scotland’s Dougie Kempsell & Lisa Aitken, the surprise of the tournament so for who took the opening game only for the determined Welsh duo to get the better of the next two.
“We got outplayed in the first,” admitted Evans, “but we managed to turn it around. At the end it could have been anyone’s, but we’re delighted to be through to the last four!”
Having lost their opening match to the Scots, top seeds and defending champions Paul Coll & Joelle King found themselves facing second seeded Indians Saurav Ghosal and Dipika Pallikal in a repeat of last year’s final!
The Kiwis took the opening game and recovered from 6-10 in the second only for the Indians to take the sudden death point. From 7-all in the third the last few points went quickly and the Kiwis were in the semis.
“We didn’t think we’d be playing them so soon, but they’re a really good pair,” said King. “We didn’t have a great start, but Paul and I have been getting better each match, and that needed to be our best performance yet. It was a good doubles match, we’re stoked to be in the semis.”
India were denied in the other quarter-final in the bottom half too, as Aussie veterans David Palmer & Rachael Grinham – who won the 2004 Mixed title together – came from a game down and 7-9 down in the decider to beat Vikram Malhotra and Joshna Chinappa.
“Even now I’m not sure how we got out of that,” admitted Grinham after the match. “But you just have to stay composed and trust in what you know works. It was a good performance to pull that one out.”