With a singular yet poignant screech, Olivia Blatchford put an emphatic stamp on the best win of her professional squash career. Playing Ireland’s Madeline Perry, the world No. 8 and top-seed in the Irish Open, Blatchford walked on court with a plan and worked it to near perfection for her first-ever win over a world top-twenty player.
After seeing Perry play England’s Laura Massaro recently, Blatchford realized that her best chance at success over the five-time Irish Open winner would be to force the issue rather than relying on patient play up and down the walls. Instead, Blatchford came out firing from the start, a strategy that paid dividends as she captured the opening two games to jump out to a commanding lead.
Perry, on the other hand, refused to cave in to the American upstart and ran away with the third and fourth games by drawing Blatchford back into a game of straight drives. So dominant were those two games by Perry that Blatchford appeared to become increasingly frustrated to the point of letting the opportunity slip through her fingers.
Instead, Blatchford, currently world No. 57, went back to attacking with boasts and drops that forced Perry into vulnerable positions far forward in the court, only to see Blatchford bury the ball deep in the back corners. Midway through that deciding game, Blatchford secured a three-point gap and three match balls, sealing the win on her second attempt, 11-8.
Blatchford’s response? A quick and jubilant scream of “Yes!” A moment well-deserved and perhaps the first of many more to come.
Blatchford now faces Egyptian world No. 33 Nouran Gohar in Friday’s semifinals.
All Irish Open matches are streaming live with Blatchford and Gohar’s match scheduled to take place at 12:00pm EST.