Monday, June 30, 2014

Nafiizwan stumbles in semis

Nafiizwan Adnan’s preparation for next month’s Glasgow Commonwealth Games took a hit with an unexpected semi-final defeat at the New Zealand Southern Open in Invercargill on Saturday.

The national No 2 was the top seed at the tournament which served as a warm-up for the Commonwealth Games, where Nafiizwan is down to play in the individual event and mixed doubles with Delia Arnold.

But World No 37 Nafiizwan’s 11-5, 3-11, 11-8, 6-11, 11-8 defeat to Rex Hedrick, an Australian ranked 66th in the world and who did not even make his country’s Commonwealth Games squad, hardly inspires confidence for the multi-event Games in Scotland.

Beating Nafiizwan was “the highlight of my career.”
“ He’s the highest ranked player I have beaten,” said Hedrick, 25, who went on to lose the final against New Zealand’s Martin Knight 11-8, 11-7, 11-9 yesterday.

The defeat extended Nafiizwan’s run without a PSA Tour title to 14 months since winning the Irish Open but he has one final chance to put things right when the Victorian Open begins in Melbourne on July 9.

Nafiizwan is seeded second behind Hong Kong’s Max Lee and opens his campaign against 229th-ranked Australian Thomas Calvert.

Also in the draw is sixth seed Ivan Yuen, who faces Taiwan’s James Huang in the opening round and could meet Nafiizwan in the quarter-finals, while 2012 Malaysia Games winner Addeen Idrakie Bahtiar takes on fellow national back-up squad player Hannan Tarmidi.

Meanwhile, national No 1 Ong Beng Hee continues his preparation for the Commonwealth Games by playing at the Cricket Club of India International tournament in Mumbai on Thursday.
Beng Hee is seeded second behind India’s Saurav Ghosal and opens against a qualifier before a likely meeting with American Chris Gordon in the last-eight.

“This is my last warm-up tournament before the Commonwealth Games,” said Beng Hee yesterday.
“Since I don’t have a coach here, I decided to play this tournament to keep sharp.”
Beng Hee is fresh from leading the national team to a runners-up spot at the Asian Team Championships earlier this month in Hong Kong where Malaysia lost to Pakistan in the final.

He will play in the individual event in Glasgow and team up with Ivan in the men’s doubles, hoping to win a third medal after claiming mixed doubles silver and bronze with Nicol David in 2002 and 2010 respectively.

By Devinder Singh - NST

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