Home Hope Weaver Sets Up Top Seed Test In Cincinnati
3 Feb 2024
USA No.2 Olivia Weaver defeated a resilient Sivasangari Subramaniam to book her place in the semi-finals of the Bahl and Gaynor Cincinnati Gaynor Cup in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she will face top seed Georgina Kennedy.
Both the Malaysian and the American played along the left wall in the first game, but good lengths weren't enough as the players dug the ball well out of the back left corner, and instead the first phase of the match was decided by Subramaniam's mistakes. Weaver edged a lead after the No.6 seed hit the tin on several occasions, and the advantage was enough to carry the American through to a 11-7 first game.
The encounter remained close, with the majority of play remaining on both of the players' backhands. Weaver played accurately and doubled her lead in an evenly-matched second game.
Weaver continued on the front foot and earned herself two match balls. The Malaysian rallied back, and with four consecutive points had a game ball over the American at 11-10, then again at 12-11 and 13-12 before the home favourite, spurred on by the Cincinnati crowd, pushed on to win the tie break at 15-13 and book the first spot in the semi-finals.
"The last two times I played her she ended up having match balls, so they were real battles," Weaver reflected after the match. "She's incredibly dangerous. I feel like she could take any player out on the PSA Tour when she's playing her best squash so I knew I had to come out here and play my best squash to take her."
"I came here and I want to get to the final. I fell short at the last event and I just want to turn around and feel good about the squash I'm producing."
In the second match of the day, top seed Kennedy, the England No.1, defeated Wales' Tesni Murphy in three games.
The Englishwoman had a particularly bright start, going 7-0 up in just three minutes with her usual physical brand of squash. Murphy picked up the pace at the final phase of game one, but the deficit was too big to overcome as the world No.6 took the lead. Despite taking a 3-1 lead at the start of the second game, the Welsh No.1 struggled to find a consistent weak point in Kennedy's game and conceded the second game 11-5.
Kennedy kept up the strong attacking squash and though Murphy was strong in the final game, returning some difficult balls from the back of the court, the Englishwoman stormed on to a 3-0 victory after an 11-7 final game.
"I knew how I wanted to play and what I wanted to do on there. She doesn't make any rally easy so I'm really proud to get off in three," said Kennedy afterwards.
"I work a lot on my fitness, so I'm definitely not afraid of those hard, longer matches and that's usually my game plan going in and I can get a bit carried away with going in short. But I'm definitely happy to come off sooner rather than later.
"[Tomorrow] is going to be a massive challenge. One of Olivia's strengths is her physicality and her fitness so I'm expecting really tough battle"
The 23-year-old was quick around the court and played consistently good length, but any loose balls were dealt with definitively by Ayman. Elaraby earned an early lead as she took the first game 11-7. The second game was marred by referee interference as multiple decisions disrupted the flow of the game. The stop-and-start nature worked in the 19-year-old's favour as she played accurate winners and levelled the match in a close-fought tie break win.
The world No.12 pushed on from that point, getting the better of the longer rallies and not giving Ayman any loose balls to work with. Elaraby quickly won the final two games in quick succession 11-5, 11-4 to book her place in tomorrow's semi finals. The No.4 seed looked back on her performance after the match.
"I don't think I played my best squash today, but it's always messy when you play an upcoming opponent. She's young, she's got nothing to lose so I think she played her best squash and I was caught in the middle with the messiness of her game plan.
"When I lost the second game, I tried to get back to my original game plan, do some tight work and I'm glad it worked. It's tough to keep yourself focused all the time, so I did my best today to keep myself in the moment and keep it together."
In the last quarter final match of the tournament, No.2 seed Tinne Gilis defeated 17-year-old Fayrouz Aboelkheir. The Egyptian came into the match after a strong performance to beat No.5 seed Sarah-Jane Perry.
The Belgian kept her nose slightly ahead in an evenly-matched first game, and despite a very late fightback from Aboelkheir, Gilis took the lead on her fourth game ball. The world No.8 propelled on in the second game; from 2-2, Gilis won nine points to take a 2/0 advantage in the match.
The Belgian carried on her run in the third, claiming another seven consecutive points before the Egyptian put an end to Gilis' 16-point streak. Aboelkheir struggled to recover from that point and the No.2 seed went on to win the third and final game 11-3.