Sunday 18 March 2018

Racquets: Perry aiming to remain on glory trail

Paddy Hickey

MADELINE PERRY has set her sights on next week's World Open after capturing the Irish Open squash title for the fourth time.

The Banbridge native is the No 6 seed for the $147,000 event, which starts on Saturday, September 18 at Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt.

"Winning the Irish title is a good confidence boost for me ahead of the World Open," said Perry, who, as top seed, defeated the Dutch No 5 seed Vanessa Atkinson 13-11 11-9 11-6 in the decider at the Fitzwilliam Club last Saturday.

"I was quite happy with the way I played and hopefully, I can up my performance a little more in the Worlds.

"In last year's World Open, I lost to Jenny Duncalf in the semi-finals and my target will be to make it to the final this year."

Heading the field is Malaysia's world No 1 Nicol David, followed by England's world No 2 Duncalf and Australia's world No 3 Rachael Grinham.

In her opening match, Perry faces Malaysia's unseeded Delia Arnold and she's expected to advance to a meeting with Australia's No 11 seed Kasey Brown in the second round.

Perry will be joined in the World Open by Sligo's Aisling Blake, who reached the semi-finals of the Irish Open.

The Amsterdam-based world No 26, who faces Egypt's world No 5 Omneya Abdel-Kawy in the first round, will take heart from her shock 3-1 win over Australia's world No 7 Natalie Grinham in the Fitzwilliam quarter-finals before losing 3-0 to Atkinson at the penultimate stage.

Meanwhile, Colin O'Brien and James Cluskey journey tomorrow from one side of Europe to the other on the next stage of their chase for tennis world-ranking points.

This week, the north Dublin duo are taking part in the ATP Challenger Tour event in Brasov, Romania from where they will travel for next week's ITF Futures tournament in Danderyd, Sweden.

In the third-tier event near Stockholm, O'Brien's world ranking of 665 earns him a place in the main draw, but Cluskey's mark of 1,740 means he must battle it out in the qualifying section.

Malahide left-hander O'Brien and Swords right-hander Cluskey, who have teamed up in the Davis Cup, will also take part in the pairs event.

In the second-tier Brasov event, both Irish players had to slug it out in qualifying, No 7 seed O'Brien taking two scalps before tumbling to Romania's top seeded Adrian Cruciat 6-2 6-4 in the third and final round.

Cluskey received a bye in the opening round when Romania's former world No 75 Razvan Sabau cried off with a shoulder injury. However, in the second round, he came up short against Llaurentiu-Ady Gavrila on a 6-1 5-7 6-2 margin.

Irish Independent

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