Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Nicol safely through

Azlan Iskandar (front) goes for a shot against South Africa’s Shaun Le Roux during a qualifying match in Bukit Jalil yesterday. Pic by Goh Thean Howe

NICOL David was in cruise control mode but the opening day of the CIMB Malaysian Open witnessed a stunning victory for Delia Arnold in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

Delia was not the only one making headlines with her five-game upset of fifth seed Alison Waters of England. Newly crowned world junior champion Habiba Mohamed Ahmed also got in on the act by dumping Camille Serme of France 11-6, 6-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-7.

Nicol breezed past Hong Kong qualifier Liu Tsz Ling 11-3, 11-2, 11-3 in the women’s first round to set up a meeting with fellow Glasgow Commonwealth Games gold medalist Johsna Chinappa of India today.

Joshna, who won the women's doubles gold in Glasgow, defeated Denmark's Line Hansen 11-8, 8-11, 11-7, 11-9 and has yet to win even a game off Nicol in their eight meetings since 2004.

“Finally,” said Delia, 28, after getting past the first round of the Malaysian Open for the first time.
“I lost to Alison the last time when I was 2-0 up and this time I managed to pace myself well.”
Nicol was just as impressed with her Delia’s first win over Alison in three meetings.

“It was a great win for her. I only watched a little but I saw how hard she fought for it. That’s what you want to see,” said Nicol.

Delia next meets American Amanda Sobhy while Low Wee Wern was the third Malaysian through after a hard-fought 11-8, 11-5, 10-12, 11-8 win over former junior rival Heba El Torky of Egypt.

“I had not played her for a long time but I knew what to expect,” said Wee Wern, who lost to Heba three times at the British Junior Open before their first meeting on the WSA Tour yesterday.

“There were a lot of stoppages as she tried to break my momentum but I stayed focused. Unfortunate to lose the third game but I came back well to win the fourth.”

Up next for Wee Wern is the strapping Sarah-Jane Perry of England. They split their two WSA meetings so far but it was Wee Wern who won their last match-up in Texas this year.

Azlan Iskandar reached the men’s main draw after an 11-4, 11-4, 11-3 win over South African Shaun Le Roux but Valentino Bong was beaten 11-7, 11-6, 11-6 by India’s Mahesh Mangaonkar in the qualifying finals. Addeen Idrakie Bahtiar was denied a first round berth after a 11-4, 11-8, 11-2 defeat to Australian Rex Hedrick.

Three-time Malaysian Open winner Azlan’s reward is a first round match against national teammate Nafiizwan Adnan.

Nafiizwan had originally been pitted against top seed Mohamed El Shorbagy of Egypt but the withdrawal of South African Stephen Coppinger prompted a re-draw.

Ong Beng Hee also drew a qualifier in India’s Mahesh Mangaonkar while Ivan Yuen takes on Finland's Olli Tuominen.

Meanwhile, Malaysia downed Ireland 2-1 on Monday to reach a quarter-final against England in the Men’s World Junior Team Championship in Windhoek, Namibia.

Third-string Darren Chan lost to Timothy Robert Brownell 11-8, 11-3, 11-9 in the opening match before Syafiq Kamal evened it a 1-1 by beating Derek Hsue 9-11, 11-4, 11-7, 11-8.

Ng Eain Yow defeated Mason Ripka 11-9, 11-3, 11-4 as Malaysia reached the last-eight for the first time since 2008.


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