World No.37 Donna Lobban ground out a 3-2 victory over tenacious American Olivia Fiechter to advance to round two of the Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family currently taking place in Chicago.
Lobban is ranked a place below Fiechter and there was little to separate the two on court as well as the woman from Australia closed out a narrow 10-12, 11-8, 11-7, 11-13, 14-12 triumph after 62 minutes of nail-biting action.
The first game went the way of Fiechter, with the New Yorker fighting back from four game balls down to take the lead. Lobban stayed calm though and duly took the next two games as her technical quality shone through.
Game four didn’t quite go to plan for the Australian as Fiechter’s dogged retrieving and intelligent shot-selection saw her battle back to take it on the tie-break, setting up a decider.
A gripping battle went right to the death as Lobban struggled to shake off the World No.36, who overturned three match balls and also held one of her own. On the fourth attempt though, Lobban finally got the win over the line after a tinned effort from Fiechter.
Lobban is on a high after winning the Edinburgh Open earlier this month and will look to continue her good form against India’s Joshna Chinappa in round two.
“I feel a little bit lucky in the end, she gave me a couple of fortunate errors, but I was just trying to hang in there,” Lobban said.
“I felt good physically, but I guess at the end of the fifth game like that it’s so easy to be edgy and you’re trying not to lose it sometimes more than going out to win it. Maybe that wasn’t helping me. I was just trying to be gritty and it paid off in the end.
“It’s so nice to be playing squash again and to be on the glass court again, I don’t get to do that every day, so I was trying to enjoy it. Sometimes it’s a bit hard to get used to it when you don’t play on it very often but these opportunities are still really exciting for me, so today was great.”
Donna Lobban (AUS) bt Olivia Fiechter (USA) 3-2: 10-12, 11-8, 11-7, 11-13, 14-12 (62m)