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Shanghai skyline by Jenny Duncalf (it's quite wide)
Lujiazui Finance City China Open 2013
22-27 Oct, Shanghai, $50k

27-Oct, Final:
[1] Nicol David (Mas) 3-2 [2] Raneem El Weleily (Egy)
           8-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-8

David comeback claims China title
Fabrice Simon reports, photos by Rainy Jin

The final of the 2013 Lujiazui Finance City China Open, started under a clear sky and it was much warmer than the previous days, at 17 degrees.

Nicol served, and from the 1st rally, we could see that the ball was a bit bouncier than the previous nights, as it was going nicely to the back of the court.

Nicol went 2-1 up, when Raneem scored 3 winners in a row to take the lead at 4-2. The Malaysian was being more patient now, and she jumped to an 8-6 lead. She then made 2 unforced errors, and Raneem finding glued drives on both her forehand and backhand, scored 5 points in a row to take the first game 11:8.

The first 3 rallies of the second game were amazing, and had the crowd shouting and clapping at the end of all them. Raneem was making Nicol doing a lot of work, the Malaysian having to run to the 4 corners of the courts to pick up what seemed winners after winners from the Egyptian.

Raneem took the lead at 4-2, and from then on decided to attack everything she could, even serving an ace at 7-3. She won the game on her first game ball on a winner, 11:6.

Things weren't looking good for the World number 1, and the crowd wanting the match to go all the way cheered for her when she entered the court at the start of the 3rd game.

Nicol started this game really well, 3 winners, a tin from Raneem, a lucky bounce, and she was up 5-1 in no time. It was now the Malaysian who was finding winners, increasing her lead to 9-1.

Raneem went for the nick on the return of serve, found it, and found another one in the next rally to reach 3 on the scoreboard.

Nicol reached game ball on the next rally, but then tinned her dropshot. At 4-10 down, Raneem went for her shots, and with her magic hands came back to 7-10, only to see one of her drive go out after a tense rally.

3rd game to Nicol 11:7

Raneem asked for a new ball at the start of the 4th, but it played in Nicol's hand, as she opened up a 4-1 lead, with some exquisite backhand dropshots. Raneem staying calm, and finding winners of her own, came back at 4-4. The players then exchanged points until 7-all.
After a massive rally, Raneem being sent all over the court, called her pick up not good.

8-7 for Nicol, a stroke and a forehand volley crosscourt nick gave the Malaysian 3 game balls. She only needed one as Raneem quickly made an error in the next rally.

The crowd couldn't have asked for a better final so far, and were now anxious to see who would prevail in the 5th game.

Raneem takes the better start at 2-0. Nicol coming back at 2-2 all with a quick two-wall boast. 3-3, the girls playing some more attritional squash now. The rallies are really long, Nicol plays the ball when most of the players would ask for a let, and sends Raneem the wrong way on a crosscourt.

4-4, 5-5, both players attacking and defending so well in every rallies of this deciding game, the crowd is loving every minute of it.

6-5 for Nicol, a stroke, 7-5, Raneem concedes her pick up in the next rally, things are looking good for the top seed at 8-5.

The Egyptian comes back at 8-8 with some amazing court coverage and deft touch at the front.

Nicol reaches match ball at 10-8 after a rally that lasted at least 4 minutes and saw both girls cover every inch of the court.
The Malaysian will only need one match ball, as Raneem tins a forehand volley.

11-8 in the 5th, and it is a very relieved Nicol David that can celebrate her first China Open title!


Draws & Results

"The match to day was furiously fast from the very beginning. Raneem was really sharp on every shot she played and got comfortable straight away out there on court. After she won the second I knew I had to do something different to not let her get a momentum. I worked hard on every shot in the third game and played much better to get a good lead and the same in the fourth.

"I had no idea the ball was changed because I was focused to keep taking this further if I want to stay in this match. The fifth I was leading but she came back strongly to 8-8. We had some amazing rallies at this point that went my way to win it at the end. Happy to come back especially with an on form Raneem on these conditions. My first China Open title!"

Wee Wern: "Phew, I was so nervous for her, but lucky she did it!! I'm so happy for her! At least another Malaysian wins the title!"

stunning panoramas from Jenny Duncalf (be prepared to scroll if you click on this)

China Open 2013
22-27 Oct, Shanghai, $50k
Round One
24 Oct 
25 Oct
26 Oct
27 Oct
[1] Nicol David (Mas)
11/6, 11/4, 11/2
Li Donglin (Chn)
[1] Nicol David
11/6, 9/11, 11/6, 11/6 (37m)
[Q] Dipika Pallikal
[1] Nicol David

13/11, 12/10, 11/6

[8] Natalie Grinham

[1] Nicol David


8-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-8

[2] Raneem El Weleily

[7] Madeline Perry (Irl)
11/8, 11/7, 11/4
[Q] Dipika Pallikal (Ind)
[8] Natalie Grinham (Ned)
9/11, 11/7, 11/6, 7/11, 11/6
Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy)
[8] Natalie Grinham
5/11, 8/11, 19/17, 11/7, 11/3 (62m)
[3] Alison Waters
[3] Alison Waters (Eng)
11/6, 11/9, 11/5
[Q] Nouran Gohar (Egy)
Annie Au (Hkg)
2/11, 11/3, 11/5, 11/3
[4] Joelle King (Nzl)
[4] Joelle King
7/11, 11/4, 11/2, 11/7 (31m)
[6] Jenny Duncalf
[4] Joelle King

11/5, 9/11, 11/3, 11/6

[2] Raneem El Weleily

Kasey Brown (Aus)
11/5, 11/5, 5/11, 11/4
[6] Jenny Duncalf (Eng)
[Q] Rachael Grinham (Aus)
11/4, 7/11, 11/9, 7/11, 11/5
[5] Low Wee Wern (Mas)
[5] Low Wee Wern
11/4, 11/3, 10/12, 11/3 (25m)
[2] Raneem El Weleily
[Q] Donna Urquhart (Aus)
8/11, 11/4, 11/9, 11/9
[2] Raneem El Weleily (Egy)
23 Oct, Qualifying Finals:

Dipika Pallikal (Ind) 3-0 Misaki Kobayashi (Jpn)                           11/4, 11/3, 11/8
Nouran Gohar (Egy)
3-1 Nicolette Fernandes (Guy)              7/11, 11/5, 11/8, 11/4
Donna Urquhart (Aus) 3-1 Aisling Blake (Irl)                       11/5, 6/11, 11/8, 11/7
Rachael Grinham (Aus) 3-1 Delia Arnold (Mas)                    11/3, 6/11, 11/9, 11/3

22 Oct, Qualifying Round One:  

Dipika Pallikal (Ind) 3-0 Jessica Turnbull (Aus)                          11/0, 11/6, 11/4 (20m)
Misaki Kobayashi (Jpn) 3-1 Tong Tsz-Wing (Hkg)     9/11, 11/5, 11/7, 6/11, 11/6 (51m)
Nouran Gohar (Egy) 3-0 Joey Chan (Hkg)                                 11/5, 11/7, 11/6 (31m)
Nicolette Fernandes (Guy) 3-0 Xiu Chen (Chn)                          11/3, 11/2, 11/6 (18m)
Aisling Blake (Irl) 3-1 Liu Tsz-Ling (Gkg)                        10/12, 11/7, 11/8, 11/2 (42m)
Donna Urquhart (Aus) 3-0 Melody Francis (Aus)                        11/9, 11/9, 11/8 (31m)
Delia Arnold (Mas) 3-0 Gu Jinyue (Chn)                                   11/6, 11/6, 11/6 (32m)
Rachael Grinham (Aus) 3-0 Deon Saffery (Wal)                       11/6, 11/6, 11/6 (27m)
2012 Event | 2011 Event | 2010 Event
26-Oct, Semis:
Top seeds through to Shanghai final
Fabrice Simon reports, photos by Rainy Jin

Top seed Nicol David and 2nd seed Raneem El Weleily will contest the final of the 2013 China Open.

The weather conditions were a bit warmer than yesterday, and a lot of people came to see the semi-finals.

Nicol David and Natalie Grinham kicked off the evening, with Nicol taking a 4-1 lead in the 1st game with an immaculate length. At this point the ball was sent out of court into the river. Natalie played much better with the new ball, using her flicks on both sides to come back at 6 all. From there it was closed al the way, a huge rally at 9 all that Nathalie wins with a flick on the backhand, and it's game ball for the Dutch. Nicol saves it, and clinches the first game on her second game ball on a straight drop, 13-11.

The girls are sharing the points in the 2nd game, 4-4, 7-6 to Nathalie on a stroke. Nicol comes back to 8 all with a volley crosscourt nick and is the first one to reach game ball at 10-9. Natalie saves it, but can't do anything on the 2 next points, as Nicol doubles her lead with a drop glued to the wall.

The ball is a bit dead at the beginning of the 3rd, it is hard to send it to the back of the court without using a lot of height. Natalie is making more unforced errors in this game, Nicol going 7-4 up. Nathalie will score 2 more points, before Nicol finishes the match with 4 points in a row, the last one being a dying crosscourt lob to the backhand corner.

Nicol David is through her first China Open final with a 13:11-12:10-11:6 win.

"I am really happy to win in 3 said Nicol, "we played so many times against each other, and I knew i had to be on my toes all the time, she caught me a few times with her flicks. It is really hard to get the ball to the back with those conditions, so you have to make sure your volleys are working well. Enjoying my week, and happy to play the final tomorrow."

The second semi final was between 2nd seed Raneem El Weleily, and 4th seed Joelle King.

Joelle started the match better, putting Raneem at the back. The Egyptian then found two nicks to take the lead, at 7-4. From then on she seemed to read Joelle's game very well, as she was volleying the Kiwi's crosscourts in front of the T line. 10-5 to Raneem, who only needs one game ball to take the first game on a glued forehand drive.

Raneem is starting the second game as she left off, reading Joelle's game, and quickly establishing a 9-6 lead. Joelle playing better now, produces 2 winners and put Raneem under more pressure, the Egyptian making 2 mistakes in a row. Joelle levels the score at 1 game all with a low backhand drive.

Raneem seems really focused at the start of the 3rd and quickly leads 4-0, and in a few minutes is 10-1 up. Joelle will score 2 more points, but the Egyptian wins the 3rd game 11-3.

Joelle starts the 4th with 2 nicks, and is leading 4-2 playing accurate squash. Raneem comes back, 4-4, 6-6, 10-6 to Raneem on a beautiful counter-drop. Raneem is on the offensive on match ball, and Joelle's backhand drive goes out of court. 11-6, match to Raneem.

"The conditions were a bit better than yesterday," said Raneem, "but it's still cold! She is very tough, and I relaxed a bit mentally at the end of the second. Very happy to be in the final, but I'll have to be strong mentally, and not think too much on court against Nicol."

Draws & Results

Draws & Results

25-Oct, Quarters:

Grinham comeback seals
semi spot in Shanghai

The quarter-finals of the WSA $50k China Open saw the three top seeds joined in the semi-finals by Natalie Grinham after a spectacular comeback win from the Dutch eighth seed.

Staged on a glass court on the Shanghai waterfront, wt was a very cold evening, with a temperature of 13 degrees, and gusts of wind reaching 40km/h

In the first match top seed Nicol David beat surprise package Dipika Pallikal in four games.

Sarah Fitz-Gerald reports on David v Pallikal:

Nicol hit better length in the first game, conditions werevery difficult -cold and windy. Dipika played much better in the second with length, hard drives and volleys..

Nicol got a good start in third and broke away at end of game.

Once again Nicol hit better length in the fourth and kept Dipika at the back before playing drops.

Dipika held on but Nicol played smart, patient and winning drops and cross court winners.

Then it was Alison Waters, the fourth seed, against Grinham. The Englishwoman went two games up before Grinham staged a comeback to set up a semi-final meeting with David.

Grinham took the third 19-17 so it's a fair bet that she saves some match balls !

New Zealand's Joelle King ended English interest as she beat Jenny Duncalf 3/1.

"Lost the first game again," said Joelle. "It's becoming a bad habit this week. I think Jenny was a bit up and down. My power allowed me to a good length, which was key as the court is dead due to the cold weather."

Raneem El Weleily, seeded two, and Low Wee Wern, the defending champion, started the last match of the day at 9pm. With the cold weather, a lot of exchanges were played at the front, and at this game the Egyptian with her touch was always a step ahead of Wee Wern.

Raneem took the first two games very quickly, finding a better length, stunning crosscourt nicks and glued drop shots.

In the third game, the girls shared the points until 7-all, a mistake from the Malaysian and two winners from Raneem, and we were at match ball. Wee Wern still fighting, getting two strokes and sending Raneem the wrong way on a crosscourt equalizes at 10-all. Two more strokes and the Malaysian wins the third.

The fourth is all about Raneem as she finds winners after winners; and after 30 minutes of play she is in the semi finals of the China Open.

"It is really cold outside the court," said Raneem, "but when you are on it, it is actually ok. I played well today, and looking forward to the semis tomorrow."

Draws & Results

24-Oct, Round One:
Dipika joins seven seeds
in Shanghai quarters

India's Dipika Pallikal continues her run of good form with a straight-games win over Madeline Perry to join the seven remaining seeds in the quarter-finals of the WSA $50k China Open in Shanghai ...

Fabrice Simon reports ...

The first round of the China Open was played in the brand new SECA Academy fencing and squash club.

First up on court was Nicol David against Chinese number one Li Dongjin.

Nicol took her opponent seriously and from the beginning of the match applied a lot of pressure on the Chinese player making her twist and turn, finishing the point with an exquisite drop or a dying length. Li Dongjin has very good hands and was able to score few winners during the match, but Nicol made sure not to open up the court for her opponent and cruised through a 3-0 victory.

Nicol said:"Happy to be in Shanghai and playing the China Open, as I missed it last year.Li Dongjin is a nice talented player, she's done very well in the east Asian Games, so I had to be very alert today. She has some nice shots to the front, so I had to make sure to keep my game clinical"

Playing at the same time were Dipika Pallikal and Madeline Perry. The first two games were really disputed, nothing much between the 2 players score wise, Dipika still managing to play better at the end of the games, taking a 2-0 lead. Full of confidence from Macau and 2 rounds of qualifying, she stormed through the 3rd game and will face Nicol David in the quarters-final tomorrow.

Dipika said:"Good 1st round, playing the qualifying you already have 2 matches under your belt. When i got Madeline, i knew I had a chance as I have beaten her once before.

"Plus coming out of Macau as the winner my confidence is higher now, so I am really glad i got through in 3, I played some really good squash today.

"The facility is great, there are 5 years old learning fencing, and watching us, it's really nice coming to China/"

Alison Waters had to be on her toes the whole match against future top player Nouran Gohar, who at 16 years old is playing great squash. Still Alison kept the young Egyptian under control for the most part of the match, Nouran threatening to win the 2nd game. A good experience for Nouran, and a good match for Alison to get through the quarters.

Natalie Grinham and Omneya Abdel Kawy played a five game match full of nice exchanges at the front and great court coverage from both players. It is Nathalie who wins it, her speed allowing her to counter punch Omneya at the front. She is pleased to play on the glass court tomorrow the weather condition should favor her game.

Jenny Duncalf took her US Open revenge on Kasey Brown in four games. Jenny was moving superbly today, playing accurate squash, and not giving any opportunities to Kasey to develop her game. After losing the third game, Jenny stepped up and put Kasey on the defensive for the most part of the game winning it 11:4

Jenny said: "I enjoyed the match, winning 3-1, as i lost to her 3-0 a week ago or so. I was planning to enjoy the match and just relax, and ended up winning. The organization is been brilliant, the club is excellent, the hotel is nearby which is nice, and glad to have a run on the glass court tomorrow."

Joelle King and Annie Au played each other last year in the China Open, and as last year it's Joelle who qualifies for the next round. It didn't start well for the Kiwi, as she lost the first game 11:2.

She was in her own words "not there mentally and physically". She came back on court a different player at the start of the 2nd game, playing at a ferocious pace, and putting away any balls that were not tight! Annie was having trouble coping with the pace and Joelle kept pressing, winning the last three games fairly comfortably.

Joelle said: "Tough game with Anie as always, pleased to get through in four. Am looking forward to playing on the glass court, I love playing on it, and this year it's from the quarters, so it should be nice."

Next up was Raneem El Weleily against Donna Urquhart. Donna won the first game, playing nice attacking squash, Raneem finding the tin quite often. The shots that were in the tin in the first game turned out to be nicks in the second game, and Raneem was back at one game all.

There was nothing between them in the third game, Donna showing why she was ranked as high as 13 in the world with some great gets and winners. Raneem now well in the match was covering the court better and still finding those stunning shots from anywhere on the court. 8-8 and Donna makes three unforced errors to hand the 3rd game to Raneem.
The fourth game is neck to neck again, Raneem going to 10-8, Donna saving one match ball, but she puts the ball out of the court in the next rally on a lob. Match to Raneem 3-1

Raneem said: "It was a close match, as the scoreline suggests, the difference was the last two shots in each games. I wish I could have played better, mentally i wasn't really strong, but I am really glad to be through. It was a tough match and hopefully I can play well tomorrow.

"The tournament has been good so far, this facility is so much better than the one last year, and I am happy to be here."

Last match of the evening was Low Wee Wern v Rachel Grinham.

Wee Wern took the first game fairly easily, helped by mistakes from Rachel. But from the second game on, we had a match on our hands, as Rachel variation pace and shots put Wee Wern under a lot of pressure, as she had to run an awful lot to cover Rachel's shots.

Second game goes to Rachel as she wins a lot op point on straight and crosscourt drops. She leads in the third, but Wee Wern now reading the game better manages to come back and take the game 11-9.

Rachel opens a 6-1 lead in the 4th and although Wee Wern started to come back, it is the Australian who equalizes at two-all.

Wee Wern is looking tired at the beginning of the fifth, but she digs in and takes a 3-1 lead. Rachel will come back to three-all, but then got frustrated with some decisions. Wee Wern remained focus and winning the fifth 11-5 to book her place in the quarters.

Wee Wern said: "Am struggling with the jet lag, most of the girls are coming from the US Open, so the 12 hours difference is hard to cope with. I'm lucky to get through today!"

Draws & Results

Qualifying Finals in Shanghai
Fabrice Simon reports

Dipika Pallikal won the right to play Madeline Perry by beating Misaki Kobayashi 11/4, 11/3, 11/8 in 31 minutes.

Misaki was maybe a bit tired from her match yesterday; while the Indian player is looking confident after her win in Macau and just went for her shots, finding nice winners.

Nouran Gohar battled for 62 minutes with Nicolette Fernandes to claim her spot in the main draw.

The Egyptian hits the ball very hard and covers the court very well. There were more than 60 decisions in the match, but it was nevertheless the crowd's favourite as they were treated to ferocious attacking and sublime retrieving from both players.

Nouran now plays third seed Alison Waters.

Donna Urquhart will be facing Raneem El Weleily after a tough 3-1 victory over Aisling Blake. The rallies were long and hard, but Donna held on better towards the end of the games, and managed to go through in 45 minutes.

The last match of the day was between Rachel Grinham and Delia Arnold. Rachel was using her flicks and hold very well, winning a quick first game 11/3. Delia was much tighter in the second game and won that one 11/6.

Rachel's hold was too much for Delia in the end, as she was caught too many times, the Australian player booking a first round match against Low Wee Wern after 47 minutes of play.

A big thank you to Wee Wern for her help with this report!

Shanghai Qualifying under way
Fabrice Simon reports, photos by Rainy Jin

The first win went to top seed Dipika Pallikal who just won the Macau Open and disposed of Jessica Turnbull from Australia 3-0 in 20 minutes.

Misaki Kobayashi and Tong Tsz-Wing started their match at the same time, but it went all the way to the 5th game.

Misaki lost a close 1st game, then took the 2nd and 3rd. Tong Tsz-Wing did well to take the 4th, but Misaki came through the final game 11:6 and 52mins of play.

The biggest upset of the day happened on court 1 when 16 years old Nouran Ahmed Gohar ranked 62 in the world beat world number 20 Joey Chan from Hong Kong 11:5-11:7-11:6 in 31 minutes.

Meanwhile on court 3, Nicolette Fernandes make short work of local player Xiu Chen, winning 3-0 in 18 minutes.

Aisling Blake who reached the quarters in China last year had to work hard to get passed Liu Tsz-Ling in 4 games and 42 minutes of play.

In an all-Australian clash, it was higher-ranked Donna Urquhart who came out the winner against Melody Francis 11:9-11:9-11:8

Delia Arnold from Malaysia had a straight forward win against local player Gu Jinyue, winning 3-0 in 32 minutes. Finally Rachel Grinham who played in the Macau Open final few days ago beat Deon Saffery from Wales 3-0 in 27 minutes.

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