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Throwback Thursday: Story of the 2018 Women's Oracle NetSuite Open

The Oracle NetSuite Open gets under way on Tuesday September 24 as the PSA World Tour Gold tournament sees the top men’s and women’s players in the world battle it out on the glass Squash Engine Court in the shadow of San Francisco’s iconic Ferry Building.

This year’s Oracle NetSuite Open features its largest prize fund in 10-year history, with $242,000 split equally between the men’s and women’s events, while a best-of-three games scoring format will be used up to and including the semi-finals. The final will revert to traditional best of five scoring used elsewhere on the tour.

We take a look back at the story of the 2018 women’s Oracle NetSuite Open.

Results: Round One
Fiona Moverley (ENG) bt Danielle Letourneau (CAN) 3-0: 11-9, 11-5, 11-6 (25m)
Salma Hany (EGY) bt Rowan Elaraby (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-6, 11-2 (24m)
Hollie Naughton (CAN) bt Yathreb Adel (EGY) 3-1: 11-6, 6-11, 11-6, 11-7 (42m)
Coline Aumard (FRA) bt Olivia Blatchford Clyne (USA) 3-1: 11-3, 6-11, 11-7, 11-2 (38m)
Millie Tomlinson (ENG) v Milou van der Heijden (NED) bt Millie Tomlinson (ENG) 3-0: 11-4, 11-9, 11-5 (25m)
Donna Lobban (AUS) bt Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL) 3-1: 8-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-8 (41m)
Nadine Shahin (EGY) bt Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND) 3-0: 11-7, 11-7, 11-9 (23m)
Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt Rachael Grinham (AUS) 3-0: 11-8, 11-4, 11-5 (22m)

There were mixed fortunes for America’s two top ranked female squash players – Amanda Sobhy and Olivia Blatchford Clyne – in the first round of the 2018 Oracle NetSuite Open.

Sobhy was in scintillating form as she romped to a comfortable straight-games victory over Australia’s former World No.1 Rachael Grinham. Blatchford Clyne, however, fell to a 3-1 defeat to Frenchwoman Coline Aumard.

Results: Round Two
Milou van der Heijden (NED) v [8] Annie Au (HKG) bt Milou van der Heijden (NED) 3-0: 11-9, 11-6, 11-4 (28m)
Donna Lobban (AUS) v [4] Laura Massaro (ENG) bt Donna Lobban (AUS) 3-1: 6-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-4 (35m)
[3] Camille Serme (FRA) bt Amanda Sobhy (USA) 3-1: 11-6, 4-11, 11-6, 11-9 (41m)
[6] Nicol David (MAS) bt Fiona Moverley (ENG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-5, 11-4 (26m)
[7] Alison Waters (ENG) bt Coline Aumard (FRA) 3-0: 11-7, 13-11, 11-6 (33m)
[1] Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt Hollie Naughton (CAN) 3-0: 11-6, 11-4, 11-3 (21m)
[5] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt Salma Hany (EGY)3-0: 11-8, 11-5, 11-7 (28m)
[2] Joelle King (NZL) bt Nadine Shahin (EGY) 3-0: 11-4, 11-5, 12-10 (28m)

England’s Sarah-Jane Perry began her title defence with a comprehensive straight-games victory over Egyptian Salma Hany to set up a last eight clash with New Zealand’s Joelle King – who defeated Egypt’s Nadine Shahin.

2018 World Champion and top seed Raneem El Welily also got her tournament off to a winning start as she overcame Canada’s Hollie Naughton in 21 minutes.

Results: Quarter Finals
[8] Annie Au (HKG) bt [3] Camille Serme (FRA) 3-2: 5-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-7, 11-6 (55m)
[5] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt [2] Joelle King (NZL) 3-1: 7-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-6 (42m)
[6] Nicol David (MAS) v [4] Laura Massaro (ENG) bt [6] Nicol David (MAS) 3-1: 9-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-7 (49m)
[1] Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt [7] Alison Waters (ENG) 3-0: 11-3, 11-6, 12-10 (30m)

A display of impressive resolve and patience saw Hong Kong’s Annie Au twice come from behind to score a surprise defeat of then-World No.5 Camille Serme of France, with New Zealand’s King also falling to defeat on the same day.

Going into their clash, Au had not beaten Serme since 2011 but the Hong Kong player managed to counter the Frenchwoman’s physicality with intelligent attacking play and pace variation to claim a big win.

King, meanwhile, fell to defending champion Perry despite taking the first game with a confident start as the Englishwoman mounted a huge comeback to keep her title defence alive.

Results: Semi-finals
[1] Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt [4] Laura Massaro (ENG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-9, 11-8 (28m)
[5] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt [8] Annie Au (HKG) 3-0: 11-4, 11-7, 11-9 (25m)

Top seed El Welily and defending champion Perry ensured they would go head-to-head in the final of the PSA World Tour Gold tournament after defeating England’s former World No.1 Laura Massaro and Hong Kong’s Annie Au, respectively.

El Welily took just 28 minutes to despatch former World Champion Massaro as she claimed an 11-8, 11-9, 11-8 victory.

Perry, meanwhile, also enjoyed a straightforward win as she swept aside Hong Kong’s Au by an 11-4, 11-7, 11-9 win to take one step closer to retaining her title.

Results: Final
[5] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt [1] Raneem El Welily (EGY) 3-2: 11-9, 11-7, 9-11, 7-11, 11-7 (57m)

After storming through the women’s draw to book a place in the final without dropping a game El Welily, picked up where she left off during the opening exchanges of the women’s final as she raced into an early 6-1 lead to set up what looked certain to be a comfortable opening first game.

But Perry responded to the challenge, finding her own lethal streak mid-way through to swing the game on its head and take the opener 11-9 against the run of play. Buoyed by her comeback in the first, Perry continued to enjoy a purple patch as she dominated the second to double her advantage – leaving El Welily searching for a way to stop the onslaught.

The Egyptian though responded in kind, lifting her level once again to engage Perry in rally after rally of physically testing and tactically probing squash. With the finishing line in sight at 9-7 though a series of errors from the racket of Perry gifted El Welily a reprieve, and she took full advantage to gain a lifeline on the scoreboard before taking the fourth in just eight minutes to level the scores.

The crucial fifth and final game began with a series of cat-and-mouse exchanges with little to separate them but from 4-4 Perry turned the screw to set up match ball at 10-4. A series of sumptuous winners saw El Welily threaten to extend the match into a tie-break but Perry finally sealed the match, and her second Oracle NetSuite Open title, 11-9, 11-7, 9-11, 7-11, 11-7.

“I’m speechless,” said Perry afterwards. “She was making me work so hard and any time there was even a slight chance she was punishing me.

“I had to play as clever as I have ever done before and I was absolutely knackered in that fifth game but I just forced myself to keep pushing. I knew I was playing well and that I didn’t have to chance much tactically, I just had to execute.

“But even at 10-4 up she was coming back and she hit some fantastic shots to get it back to 10-7 so there was a lot of relief at the end alongside the elation.

“I dedicated the win here last year to my Nan (who passed away shortly before the event). My mum said she’s be looking down watching over me tonight as well so this one is defiantly for her again.”

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