Joelle King (NZL) 2-1  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 11-7, 11-13, 11-8 (53m)
“That’s the beauty of this format, you can forget about a loss and get a do-over.” commented Joelle at the end of her tough encounter with SJ tonight.
Seesaw match between the two good friends, who actually played a lot before Manchester together I’m told. It was good to see Joelle play well tonight, just good to see her taking confidence in her squash again. As she said, she trained hard, after an end of the season that was not the best for her, if I remember well, a loss against Nadine Shahin, then a loss against Farida Mohamed, from 2/0 up serving out on match ball. The Kiwi had a tough time then…
She is so fit and trimmed, and still as determined as ever. Mind you, SJ is not exactly a pusher-over is she. And that produced a superb match really between the two, so fair, even if we had a times a few few traffic worries – both girls are pretty tall…
A 16m opener, close up to 5/5, then Joelle find perfect length and long volley drop shots, it’s 11/7.
SJ recovered extremely well from the loss of the first game, took control throughout the game, 2/0, 5/2, 7/3, 8/4. Joelle fought back to come very close, 8/9, but it’s the English lady that get two game balls, 10/8. Joelle will have one match ball there, 11/10, but two no lets in a row – ask me how happy she was – and it’s 13/11 for the English.
If Joelle had a slight advantage in the third, 3/1, there was not much between them to be honest, and at 7/7, it was anybody’s match. But a few unforced errors from the Tall SJ, and it’s a Joelle 2/1 victory. An extremely hard fought match, 16m first game, 18m second and 17m third…
“I was pretty disappointed with my match last night against Nour. I started well and had a couple of patches that were good, but that’s not good enough for someone of her class.
“I knew that today I was coming up against another top eight player, you know, so I just tried to forget about yesterday. That is the beauty of this format. I didn’t even think about winning, I just wanted to play well, and SJ is a really good friend, so those are the hardest ones to get yourself up there.
“It is an advantage to know each other’s games but to be friends and to try and beat the other person is quite tough. This season, I am just trying to do myself justice. I have worked hard but that is not enough, you have to come out and get results, so I am happy with the win.”