David marches into World Open Squash semifinal

Updated 20 December 2012
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David marches into World Open Squash semifinal

GRAND CAYMAN, Cayman Islands: Six-time champion Nicol David’s slight hiccup en route to the World Open Squash semifnals only served to highlight how extraordinary has been her dominance of the women’s tour.
The superbly consistent Malaysian’s dropped game during a 11-3, 11-7, 9-11, 11-3 victory over Ireland’s Madeline Perry on Wednesday was only the second that she has allowed to get away from her in four years and 18 matches at this venue.
Hurtling into the fourth game, she ramped up her intensity, stemmed a trickle of errors on the backhand side, and closed out the match with a whirl.
“I know that Madeline can come back from two-love down and I had to do something about it,” she said. “I didn’t want that to happen. So I had to adjust my shots in the fourth and I’m pleased with that.” Perry may take comfort in having suddenly made a match of it, engineering a brief but passionate recovery during which she once hurled her racket away in frustration, a misdemeanor bringing mild admonishment from the referee.
To reach the final David now has to win a repeat of last year’s final in Rotterdam. That is because Jenny Duncalf upset the seedings with her best win of the year, by 7-11,17-19, 11-5, 11-4, 11-9 against her English compatriot Alison Waters.
Duncalf was behind for almost all the match, failing with three game balls in a monster second game and somehow taking strength from the setback.
“I felt it affected her more physically, which gave me confidence,” Duncalf explained. “I felt physically okay and, in a weird way, positive. I was starting to find my way and keen to push on.” She and Waters are rooming together but there will apparently be no antagonism. “There’s no bad blood. We’re still friends after matches,” claimed Duncalf. “We’ve grown up together.” The other semifinal will be between David’s two closest rivals, Laura Massaro of England who beat her twice last year, and Raneem El Weleily of Egypt, who overcame the champion three months ago.
Massaro gradually got on top against another Malaysian, Low Wee Wern, during an 8-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-5 win.
Although Low may have increasingly have been feeling her strained hamstring, Massaro was solid and consistent and well-ordered and will be expecting to trouble the second-seeded Weleily.
The Egyptian nevertheless showed what a deceptive shot-maker she can be when she is relaxed, as she gradually appeared to be during an 11-9, 11-9, 11-7 win over Natalie Grinham, the four times a former World Open finalist from The Netherlands.
Grinham might have hoped to do better. She went to 7-5 in the second game and 6-3 in the third against but could not capitalize on either lead, making a few too many errors to stay in contention.
The intensity of El Weleily’s focus was later revealed by her dry response to the interviewer who was attempting to draw attention to the island’s attractions.



“I haven’t seen much of the island so far but I’ve seen plenty of other girls with the dolphins,” Weleily said. “I haven’t been to see them yet, and I hope I don’t get the chance to.”


Saudi Arabia set to face Mario Balotelli after striker earns Italy recall

Updated 35 min 37 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia set to face Mario Balotelli after striker earns Italy recall

  • Saudi Arabia play Italy on May 28
  • Balotelli set to play for the Azzurri for the first time in four years

TURIN: New Italy coach Roberto Mancini on Saturday recalled Nice striker Mario Balotelli to the Azzurri fold for three upcoming friendlies as he begins the job of reviving Italian fortunes.
Mancini was appointed last Monday, six months after Gian Piero Ventura was sacked following the four-time world champions’ failure to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958.
The 53-year-old, who left Zenit Saint Petersburg to take the job, unveiled his first 30-man squad for matches against Saudi Arabia, France and the Netherlands.
Mancini takes charge of his first game against the Green Falcons in St. Gallen, Switzerland on May 28.
As expected, the 27-year-old Balotelli was included for the first time in nearly four years.
Balotelli has scored 13 goals in 33 appearances for the Azzurri but has not played international football since Italy’s humiliating group-stage exit from the 2014 World Cup.
Balotelli was last called up by coach Antonio Conte in November 2014 but did not play because of injury.
He has now been given another chance by Mancini, who coached him at both Inter Milan and Manchester City.
Balotelli has resurrected his career since joining Nice in 2016 after less successful spells with AC Milan and Liverpool, scoring 26 goals in all competitions this season, without any of the bad-boy behavior that previously dogged his career.
Italy are not spoilt for choice with forward so Balotelli’s success with Nice could not be overlooked by Mancini.
As a youngster, Balotelli was part of the Inter side coached by Jose Mourinho that won the Champions League in 2010.
He also won three Serie A titles with Inter before switching to Manchester City and helping them claim the Premier League crown in 2012.
Meanwhile, Mancini’s squad was without goalkeeping great Gianluigi Buffon who this week confirmed he would not play again for the national side.
The presence of Buffon — who holds the record for Italy caps with 176 — proved controversial during friendlies in March with his critics wanting him to move over for a younger generation.
In his absence, Mancini has recalled Salvatore Sirigu, who has had a successful season since joining Torino, alongside AC Milan teenager Gianluigi Donnarumma and Genoa’s Mattia Perin.
Among the veterans there was no call-up for Roma captain Daniele De Rossi, with Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini absent through injury.
The captain’s armband is expected to go to AC Milan center-back Leonardo Bonucci.
Five players have been given a first call-up — Chelsea left-back Emerson Palmieri, Torino midfielder Daniele Baselli, Crotone midfielder Rolando Mandragora, Sassuolo striker Domenico Berardi and Atalanta defender Mattia Caldara.
Along with defenders Alessio Romagnoli and Daniele Rugani, midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini and strikers Federico Chiesa and Federico Bernardeschi are among the promising youngsters who are expected to put Italy back on the road to victory.
The squad will meet for the first time at the Italian national team’s training camp at Coverciano near Florence on May 23.

Italy squad
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan), Mattia Perin (Genoa), Salvatore Sirigu (Torino);
Defenders: Leonardo Bonucci (AC Milan), Mattia Caldara (Atalanta), Domenico Criscito (Zenit St. Petersburg/RUS), Danilo D’Ambrosio (Inter Milan), Mattia De Sciglio (Juventus), Emerson Palmieri Dos Santos (Chelsea/ENG), Alessio Romagnoli (AC Milan), Daniele Rugani (Juventus), Davide Zappacosta (Chelsea/ENG)
Midfielders: Daniele Baselli (Torino), Giacomo Bonaventura (Milan), Bryan Cristante (Atalanta), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Jorginho (Napoli), Rolando Mandragora (Crotone), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma)
Forwards: Mario Balotelli (Nice/FRA), Andrea Belotti (Torino), Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo), Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus), Federico Chiesa (Fiorentina), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Matteo Politano (Sassuolo), Simone Verdi (Bologna), Simone Zaza (Valencia/ESP)