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Perry sparkles on triumphant return

Madeline Perry made a triumphant homecoming when she won the women's title at the Cannon Kirk Homes Irish Squash Open at Fitzwilliam, Dublin, beating former world champion Vanessa Atkinson.

It was a fourth Irish Open title for Perry, who is in the form of her life after winning the Australian Open last month.

In the semi-finals, Perry had the satisfaction of dismissing Laura Massaro, the English woman who had beaten her in last year's final.

In a close match, Perry came from a game behind to level the match at a game apiece before a controversial third game, in which Massaro had three game balls before losing 13/11. In the fourth game, Massaro saved three match balls before Perry came through 11/9.

Against Atkinson in the final, Perry started slowly, only winning the first game 13-11 after saving a game ball against her at 11-10.

A 60-shot rally in the second game proved the turning point of the match. Perry took the point and then upped the pace against her tiring opponent, winning the second game 11-8 and racing through the third 11-6 to win the match.



Comeback

It was Perry's first victory over Atkinson since 2002 and the eighth WISPA Tour title of her career.

In a good tournament for Irish women's squash, Aisling Blake played the game of her life to beat former world No2 Natalie Grinham 11-4 11-4 9-11 11-3 in the quarter-finals.

Dutchwoman Grinham was making her Tour comeback after the birth of her son Kieran last May.

With a first-ever all-Irish final in prospect, Blake played her heart out against Atkinson in the semi-finals before losing 11-7 11-6 12/10. In the third game, the Irish No2 saved two match points with spectacular shots before losing 12-10.

Both Irish players now head for Egypt for the Soho Square World Open at Sharm El Sheikh, which starts next Wednesday. Blake plays in the qualifying tournament, while Perry faces Malaysian player Delia Arnold in the opening round.

An epic five-game men's final match brought the Irish Open to a fitting conclusion, with top seed Mohd Azlan Iskandar from Malaysia taking 100 minutes to beat Spanish qualifier Borja Golan 11-9 8-11 9-11 13-11 11-5.


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