Joelle King powers into semifinals at US Open squash tournament in Philadelphia
Joelle King's outstanding start to the squash season has continued, with the the top-ranked Kiwi women's player surging into the US Open semifinals.
The world No 10 from Cambridge beat English world No 8 Alison Waters in the quarterfinals on Friday (NZ time) 11-9, 8-11, 11-2, 11-3, in another strong display in Philadelphia, in what is the first of the season's five PSA World Series events.
King had admitted to off-court personal issues affecting her on-court efforts during a tough 2016, but the 29-year-old has bounced back in style, bagging a customary national title in July, again winning two golds at the doubles world champs, kicking off the World Tour season with a semifinals appearance at the China Open and a runner-up finish at the Macau Open, and now powering closer towards an elusive World Series title.
Having opened with a straight-games win over Dutch qualifier Milou van der Heijden in the first round, then coming from 2-1 down to stun world No 2 Frenchwoman Camille Serme in a five-game second-round effort, 11th-seeded King then put 33-year-old eighth seeded Waters away in a commanding finish.
With long rallies a feature early on, King narrowly prevailed in the first game, then at 10-3 down in the second she fought back, though Waters was able to level it. But King then suddenly headed out to a 9-0 advantage in the third, not doing anything spectacular, but with Waters' error count helping. And from there the damage was done, with the Kiwi going on to complete the job in 43 minutes.
King said her win over Serme had served her well going into the quarterfinals, but knew she had to forget that one in order to get up for this clash.
"Alison and I have had some battles over the years, today was my day," King said. "I lost my way a little in the second, I just had to re-focus and go back to playing my game, and it worked."
After last season not being able to make it past the second round in any of the World Series events, King's confidence is now flying high, as she seeks to make headway towards her former high mark of world No 4, having been playing catchup since her ruptured achilles tendon injury in 2014.
In the semifinals on Saturday (NZ time), King will face 28-year-old world No 3 Egyptian Raneem El Welily, who overcame compatriot world No 5 Nouran Gohar 11-13, 11-7, 12-10, 11-5.
The other semifinal will see world No 4 Englishwoman Laura Massaro take on world No 14 Egyptian Nour El Tayeb, who ousted fellow countrywoman and world No 1 Nour El Sherbini.