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Monday, 29 July, 2002, 19:21 GMT 20:21 UK

Fitz-Gerald on course for gold

The top three seeds made it safely through to the women's squash singles semi-finals on Monday.

First and second seeds Sarah Fitz-Gerald and Carol Owens both looked particularly comfortable in breezing past their quarter-final opponents.

Third seed Cassie Jackman, though, was made to fight all the way for her berth in the last four.

Jackman, 29, won the all-England battle against Linda Charman in the fifth and deciding game.

The surprise package of the round was the 11th seed Rachael Grinham.

"I made a couple of errors, got a bit tentative"
Sarah Fit-Gerald

The Australian enjoyed a 3-0 victory over world number four Leilani Rorani of New Zealand.

That victory earned her a spot in Tuesday's semi-final against compatriot Fit-Gerald.

The Australian booked her place in the semi-finals with a comfortable win over England's Stephanie Brind.

Sixth seed Brind took Fitz-Gerald the distance in the opening game but her opponent then moved through the gears to complete a 10-8 9-3 9-1 victory at Manchester's National Squash Centre.

Fitz-Gerald knew she was not at her best in game one but remained confident that she could raise the standard.

"I made a couple of errors, got a bit tentative and started thinking about it too much," said the 33-year-old four-time world champion.

"But I believe that even if I had lost the first game I would have been strong enough to deal with it."

Power

New Zealander Owens hardly put a foot wrong during her 3-0 defeat of England's Tania Bailey.

The first game, though, could have gone either way. But crucially it was Owens who found the winning shot to take it 10-9.

From then on, Bailey had no answer to the power and precision of the world number two and provided little resistance as her opponent wrapped-up the remaining games to love and one.

Owens, representing New Zealand for the first time in an international competition, must now get past Jackman for a place in the final.

Jackman was involved in by far the most enthralling of the four quarter-final matches as she took the deciding game 9-2 against Charman.


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