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CIB Black Ball Open SF: Perry Holds Nerve to Reach Final

English No.1 Sarah-Jane Perry has reached the final of the CIB Black Ball Open following a 5-11, 13-11, 13-11, 7-11, 13-11 victory over New Zealand’s World No.8 Joelle King.

Perry was down in the head-to-head going into the match, with King winning seven of their nine encounters, however, the World No.6 managed to produce the big shots when it mattered to pull out the five-game win in 74 minutes at the PSA World Tour Gold event.

King settled into the semi-final far quicker, finding her length and targets to take advantage of a lacklustre Perry, who suffered a similar start in her quarter final match with France’s Camille Serme, to open up a one-game lead.

The Englishwoman regrouped well though and lifted her performance in the second and third to wrestle back control of the match by breaking up the rhythm of King and settling into her shots to take a 2-1 lead.

Once again, a loss of focus cost Perry as she produced too many errors and despite saving two game balls, King was able to push the match to a fifth.

The fifth summed up Perry’s pattern of play with moments of brilliance followed by unforced errors as King was able to save three match balls, before squandering her own opportunity and allowing Perry to hold her nerve to close out at the fourth attempt and reach her first final of the season.

Perry will face either USA’s Amanda Sobhy or defending champion Hania El Hammamy in the title decider tomorrow night.

“I think there were patches were one of us played well and the other one didn’t,” said Perry to the SquashTV cameras afterwards.

“I don’t even want to know how many errors I made – far too many. I knew I needed to attack, I couldn’t just trade blows with her because she’s too good and she just picks me up on the volley, as she did too many times. I don’t really know how I won that one. I managed to refocus just about at 10-10 in the fifth after putting three balls in the tin. I’m pretty relieved right now, if I was a cat, I would have used at least four of my nine lives today.

“Whoever was in control of the middle, was controlling it but that could switch halfway through a rally, let alone through games and patches. It was a bit all over the place, but my game is to disrupt people’s rhythm and movement, but I need to find my own as well, which was definitely in and out tonight.

“I think in the first half of the season I lost a lot of tie-breaks. To actually win them is pretty pleasing. I need to focus and not go down in games, to win comfortably would be beautiful.”

[5] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt [7] Joelle King (NZL) 3-2: 5-11, 13-11, 13-11, 7-11, 13-11 (74m)

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