Squash: Australian Open win has Perry on a high
Madeline Perry last night described winning the Australian Open as “huge”.
The Banbridge player battled back from career-threatening injuries sustained in an unprovoked attack in Italy three years ago to take the Australian Open title in Canberra on Sunday in a five game thriller against England’s world number three Alison Waters.
“Getting to the final was a big achievement, but winning it was huge for me,” said a delighted Perry. “I won the first two (games) but I wasn’t feeling amazing. I felt a lot of tension in my body and then she really upped the pace in the third and fourth and I couldn’t respond.
“The fifth was pretty even all the way through — you could see both of us were getting a bit tired and not doing that much.
“But I stuck in there and took my match ball when it came,” said the 33-year-old, who was quick to praise the backing and support she has received over the years from the Sports Institute Northern Ireland, which is based at the University of Ulster at Jordanstown.
Perry came through a fiercely contested match, saving two match points on the way to winning 11-5, 12-10, 6-11, 4-11 13-11.
The match, at Canberra’s Royal Theatre, ended in controversy as Waters claimed she should have been awarded a ‘let' for interference. The call went to Perry and handed her the championship.
The final was a wonderful advertisement for women’s squash, with the match swinging first one way then the other until that controversial no-let call, which caused Waters to throw her racket in disgust and Perry to throw hers in elation.
It was Perry’s first major title, her seventh WISPA title in all and she is the first Irish woman to win the Australian Open title.
Perry had set up the biggest win of her career by defeating the number one seed Jenny Duncalf in the semi-finals, a performance the Ulster player felt was possibly the finest of her long career.
Perry is currently ranked seventh in the world but is expected to rise up the rankings after this triumph.
“This is by far the biggest title of my career as it is one of the largest events on the World Tour, what was also really pleasing was that I beat the world number 7, 4 and 2 in the same tournament, I am also delighted with the level that I was playing at,” she added.
“Alison Waters was very tough to beat, I probably could have won 3-0 at one stage of the match but she came back at me and in the end we were both pretty exhausted. Alison had reached the final of the Singapore Open just days before so has been in great form, so this was a great result to beat her in the final.
“It has been five years since I have won a Tour title on foreign soil and to be honest I hadn’t realised it had been five years, so it is even more pleasing. Again, I am thrilled with the level of my squash. It was definitely the best of my career and that will give me confidence.
“I have another bigger competition coming up in Hong Kong in nine days, then I am straight home for the Irish Open, then the World Open and then obviously the Commonwealth Games.
“I am really excited about that as I believe I have a real chance of a medal, but I am trying to play one match at a time at the minute to avoid putting too much pressure on myself.”