Mon, Oct 29, 2007 - Page 18 News List

Aussie duo make winning squash title a family affair

AFP , MADRID

Rachael Grinham made history when she faced and then overcame younger sister Natalie, the Commonwealth champion, by 9-4, 10-8, 9-2 to win the World Open title for the first time.

Not only was it the first time that the Australian duo had met in a WISPA Tour final, they were almost certainly only the second pair of sisters in any sport, after tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, to have contested a major final.

Did Rachael feel sorry for Natalie for having denied her the world title?

"No -- she got all three golds at the Commonwealth," she replied, laughing. "We are pleased for the other one when she wins, but at the end of the day, we do want to win."

It was still played in great spirit. Natalie once reversed an incorrect decision by the marker who called down Rachael's deceptively brilliant reverse angle at 7-5 in the second game.

In retrospect, that proved the difference between them in that crucial middle game, which fluctuated fascinatingly, with Natalie leading 6-2, Rachael getting back to lead 8-6, only for Natalie to level at 8-8, before the two pivotal points occurred.

A drop setting up a drive kill, and then a volley drop to a clinging line setting up a volley kill, were the two rallies which gave Rachael a two-game lead. After that her progress accelerated.

"I didn't think -- oh I'm going to lose if I don't get this game, but I concentrated very hard on getting back into it," Rachael said.

She did that by making sure her length was better than Natalie's. This made her slightly the more dominant player, making more of the attacking ploys, mostly starting with a tight ball to the front. In the third game she got completely on top.

The beginning of the end was signaled at 2-1 when a sidewall boast from Natalie faded into the tin. A slide of six points in a row followed, five of them errors from the younger sister.

Nevertheless Natalie had done much to make this one of the better finals.

"To be the first two sisters in the final feels fantastic," Natalie said.

"Not just one of us winning but both being in the final is more of a dream than one of us winning it," she said. "It was almost perfect. It would have been perfect if I'd have won it."

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