Double England Silver Certain After Early Quarters’ Successes In Delhi

England can look forward to a minimum of two silver medals in the Commonwealth Games Squash Championships inDelhi after Jenny Duncalf and Alison Waters came through today’s first two women’s quarter-finals, and Nick Matthew and Peter Barker prevailed in the early last eight men’s matches at the Siri Fort Complex in the Indian capital.

Waters, the third seed from London, was the first to put herself in medal contention for the first time after beating New Zealand’s Joelle King, the 12th seed, 12-10, 9-11, 11-5, 10-12, 11-2 in 60 minutes.

It was the world number four’s second victory over the Kiwi this year – but clearly Waters had a tougher hurdle to overcome this time:

“I’ve only played Joelle once before – but I knew she’d be tough,” said 26-year-old Water. “She hits the ball well and hard. When I changed things around and brought in a bit of variety, it all came together for me.

“I’m glad to get through – winning that last game like I did gives you confidence. Knowing I can play like that in the fifth gives me a boost. I’ve had more experience than Joelle, and I think that was the key in the fifth.

“It’s exciting to be in the semi-finals of the Commonwealth Games – that’s pretty cool! Not many people can say that they’ve competed in the Games.

“It would be great to play Jenny in the semis as at least one of would get a medal,” added Waters.

Team-mate Duncalf then obliged, ending the hopes of another New Zealander by beating seventh seed Jaclyn Hawkes11-8, 11-4, 12-10.

“I felt good out there today – it’s always good to get through in three,” said second seed Duncalf. “I maybe switched off slightly in the third – so I was pleased not to go to a fourth.

“You can’t let up for one minute against these girls – you can’t get complacent. As soon as you sit back for a couple of points, the momentum goes.”

Asked if she was boosted by her team-mate’s earlier win, Duncalf replied: “Yes, it’s great to see your team-mates do well. There’s a great togetherness about the squad – we all look out for each other.

“Ali and I are sharing tonight – so I might have to think of a few tricks!”

Underdog Hawkes admitted later she had been relaxed going into the game: “I had nothing to lose.

“Jenny’s racket skills are so good. If you play a loose ball, you’ll find yourself in trouble. She just played better than me today.

“If I’d managed to take the third, she might have tightened up a bit. Even though she can come back from losing a game, I felt I had it in me to take it to a fifth.”

The 27-year-old from Auckland will now turn her attention to the Doubles: “I think our chances in the doubles are really good. We’ve got a real good shot to win.”

Londoner Peter Barker became the first man to earn a place in the semi-finals when he recovered from a game down to beat experienced Australian Stewart Boswell 10-12, 11-9, 11-3, 11-3.

Boswell, the No8 seed in his third appearance in the Games, was two points away from taking the second game when Barker edged through, then upped the pace to record his 73-minute victory.

“That was tough – and I was fortunate to win the second game,” admitted the third seed. “If he’d won that, it would have been really tough to come back – even though I have a few years on him! Two down against someone of Bozza’s experience would not have been good.

“But after winning the second, I was on the front foot.”

When told that Australian number one David Palmer had tipped him as a ‘dark horse’ for the title, Barker was quick to respond: “No! Maybe people are saying that because I beat Nick (Matthew) the last time we played. I’m quietly confident of doing well, but I like being the underdog!”

The left-hander then went on to admit how feared Palmer himself is: “We were all not wanting to play David. In fact it’s the first thing I thought of when I saw the draw was – ‘where’s David?’ That quarter was always going to be the one everybody wanted to avoid.”

The third game was twice interrupted when the Englishman had to change his racket. “My strings broke twice! And at 20 dollars a re-string, it’s going to be an expensive tournament! They’re new Ashaway strings – and good strings – but they have a life!”

Boswell said that his plan had been to try and get a good length and get in front – “which I did for about a game and a half. I thought I played pretty well – but I fell off the pace a bit at the end, which was a bit disappointing.

“Pete’s in pretty good form and is an obvious contender for the title. I think he’s capable of winning it. I was hoping to get through at least another round – but now we’ve got the doubles, so the only plus about losing is that I’ve now got two days free.

“I haven’t really given the doubles much thought,” added the Canberra-born 32-year-old. “But it gives us a good opportunity to win gold for Australia.”

Barker will now line up against England team-mate Nick Matthew, the event favourite, for as place in the final.

World No2 Matthew secured his first straight games win of the tournament when he overcame Australia’s seventh seedCameron Pilley 11-7, 11-5, 11-6.

“It’s definitely the best I’ve played this week – but I needed to against somebody like Cameron,” said an upbeat Matthew. “I knew I had to start well. It’s getting better each day. I was moving a lot sharper around the court today.

“And I’ve now got Pete (Barker). It’s never easy to play a compatriot but I’m looking forward to it. But Pete’s playing well – he’s confident. And he beat me the last time we played.

When asked if it felt good to know that England already had two certain silver medals, the 30-year-old from Sheffield said: “The coaches might think of things like that – but all of us are only after one thing! Nothing’s been achieved yet.”

Men’s quarter-finals:
[1] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [7] Cameron Pilley (AUS) 11-7, 11-5, 11-6 (54m)
[3] Peter Barker (ENG) bt [8] Stewart Boswell (AUS) 10-12, 11-9, 11-3, 11-3 (73m)
More to follow ….

Women’s quarter-finals:
[3] Alison Waters (ENG) bt [12] Joelle King (NZL) 12-10, 9-11, 11-5, 10-12, 11-2 (60m)
[2] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) bt [7] Jaclyn Hawkes (NZL) 11-8, 11-4, 12-10 (40m)
More to follow ….

For more info, visit the WSF’s dedicated Commonwealth Games site