R2:  Joelle King (NZL) 3-0 Hollie Naughton (CAN) 11-9, 11-2, 11-9 (30m)
Finally. Joelle will be pleased with her game today. Out of the last BO5 matches she played since March, this is her first 3/0, and that makes her two defeats from 2/0 up (against Farida and Salma) a distant memory.
Hollie will be disappointed. She was right in there. It’s strange, how this amazing athlete – I am still to see her breath hard during a match, I kid you not – is going for too much at crucial times. She’s got the skills. She’s got the fitness. Somebody’s got to print in her brain she is good enough…
First game, Joelle seems in complete control, 4/1, 7/3, 8/4, but some pretty crispy backhand drop shots on the back on accurate length from the Canadian/Pontefract player, and we are back at 8/8. I can feel Joelle tensing up, aware that she has often gone up to let it slide. 9/9. Hollie is putting the pressure on, but a lovely backhand crosscourt that finds the nick, and a return of serve that goes out of court, and Joelle takes a crucial opener, 11/9 in 10m.
Second, the New Zealand plays her best squash, calm, accurate, well thought, well executed, Hollie cannot do much there, 11/2 in 7m.
The third, Hollie will be kicking herself back to Ponte, as she was truly putting her opponent on the grill, 3/3, 5/3, 7/5, but got caught out 7/7 after Joelle found sound lethal drop shots, 9/7 Joelle. The Canadian will come back as close as 8/9 after a stroke but it’s the New Zealander that get to close in after a wobble on her first attempt, out of court, 10/8, and it’s a tin for Hollie to end it, 11/9, 11m game.
Just to make it a bit sweeter for Hollie, I name her the “Best Dressed of the BlackBall 2020.” Her two outfit, first round, a superb little Nike number and today, getting beautifully away with a white Wilson close to the body outfit, with lovely crossed strings at the back….
Joelle is very strong in the middle, tall player, it figures, and if you miss your targets, she is so lethal on the volley. And because I was missing my targets far too much, I was constantly on the backfoot, and she never let me back in the match, she is too good for that.
I was not confident on my drop shots, and I missed a couple of opportunities that could have been game changing. I really felt I was in there, but I just couldn’t capitalise on those chances. Just too many errors. Missed too many targets.
The tour is changing. There are a lot of players making their breakthrough and Hollie had a great win yesterday. I had to play good squash and keep her contained. I thought I played well. There were still a few patches that I wasn’t happy with but overall it was a good performance.
I think that in the first, I had a good lead. There was a rally that I took lightly at about 9-5 and it gave her momentum and she came back. That is probably the difference, I managed to get over the line in the first to keep that momentum.
Obviously, winning the first game is a mental advantage. If you can close the first out and come out strong in the second, you can develop a run of points but when you are competing against another good player, they are trying their hardest to break it. It is hard to get momentum and it is also hard to stop it.