R2: Olivia Fiechter (Usa) 3-2 Melissa Alves (Fra) 4-11, 11-9, 11-2, 12-14, 15-13 (62m)
A great start from Melissa Alves, but Olivia Fiechter fights back to earn match ball in the fourth, then has to save match balls in a dramatic fifth before finally claiming the win and a spot in the last sixteen …
Match of the tournament so far, by far.
Extremely high quality on all accounts: drama, fairness, cleanness, skills, it had it all. And we were seriously entertained, which is may I stress something we TERRIBLY need at the moment, don’t we.
I have known Melissa since the early junior days. It’s amazing to see a young kid transforming and becoming an athlete. And her game has evolved so much over the years, she has added so many layers to her arsenal…
She looked pretty good in the first game the French Guyana star did. 9/1, 11/4 in 7m, Olivia didn’t see much, Melissa completely in control. But that second… So crucial… The difference between being 1/1 or 2/0….
Six unforced errors, 6 winners for Melissa, which in my view kept the ball to the front, as if she wanted to match her opponent’s front target hitting. Relentlessly, Melissa kept sending the ball to the front, Olivia not having to move much to be lethally incisive and damaging, forcing the French to cover a lot of ground, and having a lot of shot choices.
4/4, 7/7, 8/8, 9/9. 3 errors in 4 points for Melissa, who seems to attack from the wrong position, too quickly and is forced to make an error, whereas the whole of the back of the court was available. A tin and a no let to end up that second, Olivia not staying on court to wait for the video referee decision, confirming an obvious no let.
Melissa doesn’t show up in the 3rd. Mentally and physically, she is just not switched on, and Olivia’s sublime volleying is just too damaging, 11/2 in 5m.
The fourth, what a beauty.
Finally, finally, Melissa remembering there is a back of the court. And the real battle start. Now, they are both having to run and visit the four corners, superb squash, intense endless rallies, squash royalties. But from 4/1 Melissa, it’s 6 points in a row for the American, 7/4.
All level at 7/7, then match ball to Olivia. Two of them. Saved. It will take Melissa three game balls but she will live another game, forcing a decider in the most beautiful dramatic fashion, 14/12, 13m, 11winners for Melissa, 10 for Olivia.
The 5th, a heartbreaker for the delirious French crowd of one (Enora Villard). An excellent reassessing from the American, 2/0, 6/2, 7/3, but finally showing she is human – up to now, we weren’t sure as she didn’t show any sign of emotions or tiredness to be honest – 3 errors in a row!
7/7. Melissa is back in the match, and she knows it. Now playing the perfect tactic, she gets to call the shots and sets up two match points. But 10/10 comes. Back and forth, those two superb gladiators will get 3 more match balls each. It’s the American that gets the honour to clinch that victory, 17m very long minutes, 15/13.
So proud to be involved in a sport which produces entertainment of that quality. Chapeau.
Olivia : “I’m a little bit at a loss for words.
“I haven’t had a battle like that in a very long time, so it feels great. Melissa is actually one of my closest friends on tour. It’s always tricky playing a friend, but I knew she was going to leave it all out there.
“She’s a huge fighter and I’m just so pleased to pull that out, it really came down to the end there. I was literally just trying to focus on my breathing and trying to make sure that I hit shot-by-shot. I was trying to take it step-by-step and break it down rather than trying to think about finishing the match.
“I was trying to hang in there. I’ve been doing a lot of work with Danny Massaro on the mental side of things, we’ve been talking about being really gritty out there and I was telling myself to refuse to lose. I’m so happy to have pulled it off.”
Melissa: “I’m very disappointed. When you are given a chance like that, you cannot not seize it.
“I wouldn’t say I completely missed my match though, I feel we both played at the same level. I gave it all on there and it was a good, clean match. But I just made far too many errors in ratio to my winners.
“That last drop shot, I shouldn’t tin it, or I should have played it to the back. I make errors on shots where I’m not even in search of a winner, it’s more in the quality of the execution of the shot.”
🗣 "Melissa is one of my closest friends on Tour, and it is always tricky playing your friends, but I knew she would leave it all out there!"@OliviaFiechter1 is through to the last 16 of a Platinum event for the first time in her career 💪 #BlackBallOpen pic.twitter.com/ysxVTjOeHP
— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) March 13, 2021