Nicollette Fernandes (left) of Guyana lets her animal instinct take over as she beats former world champion Rachael Grinham of Australia 4-11, 6-11, 12-10, 11-8, 11-7.
GEORGE TOWN: Nicollette Fernandes of Guyana attributed her come-from-behind victory over former world champion Rachael Grinham of Australia in the 29th Women’s World Squash Championship 2013 to her animal instinct.
The unseeded Fernandes seemed to be heading out of the competition after losing the first two games 4-11, 6-11 to the 14th seed.
However, she staged a remarkable comeback to take the next three games 12-10, 11-8, 11-7 and set up a second round meeting with eighth seed Camille Serme of France.
“You guys might laugh at the reason behind my fightback. I felt I was too passive in the first two games and decided to bring out the lion in me. I wanted to growl back at Rachael and play as if I wanted the win more than her. I played like a lion in the final three games,” said Fernandes, who also growled at the media during her post-match interview.
“Having grown up playing squash with my brothers, I tend to treat my opponents as my brothers as an added motivation to beat them. In the next round, I want to think of Camille as my brother.”
Fernandes admitted that squash is not popular in her cricket-mad South American country Guyana.
“There are probably only 70 people out of the 700,000 population in my country who play squash. Probably more will pick up the sport if I do well in the world meet, but the cricket lovers might get upset with me,” joked the world no. 20, who trains on and off in England.
Serme booked her spot in the last 16 after ending the fairytale run of 14-year-old Habiba Mohamed of Egypt 11-6, 12-10, 11-7 in her first round match.
Despite the straight games victory, the world No. 8 was made to work hard, especially in the second game when she saved two game points.
“For someone her age, Habiba is really a tough competitor and she is not afraid of taking on older players. I am sure that she will be one of the players to watch out for in the future,” said Serme.
“My highest ranking was No. 5 back in Decemeber and I want to return to the top five with a good performance in Penang. But every match is hard here and I am capable of beating anybody as well as being beaten by anybody.”
Also through to the second round from the top half of the draw are fourth and fifth seeds Alison Waters and Joelle King respectively.
Waters needed four games to see off India’s Joshna Chinappa and faces another tough encounter next against Egypt’s Nour El Sherbani. King had an easier 11-3, 11-5, 11-8 win over Wales’ Tesni Evans, but will face a sterner test against Egypt’s Omneya Abdel Kawy next.
Omneya, the 13th seed, defeated Nour El Tayeb 9-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-7 in an all-Egyptian encounter.
The eight first round matches in the bottom half of the draw will be played on Wednesday.
The Star is the official media of the event.