A file picture of Mohd Asyraf Azan. He will next face Alister Walker of Botswana in the quarter-finals of the Pittsburgh Open squash championships.
PETALING JAYA: National No. 3 Mohd Asyraf Azan served up a pleasant surprise to storm into the quarter-finals of the US$25,000 (RM83,662) Pittsburgh Open squash championships on Friday.
Asyraf, ranked No. 65 in the world, was in his element as he pulled off a stunning win over world No. 37 Henrik Mustonen of Finland 13-11, 6-11, 11-2, 6-11, 11-6.
It was a superb result for Asyraf who, despite being a talented player, has seen his career stalled due to a lack of consistency.
The 25-year-old, whose best achievement was making the semi-finals of the Asian Championships last year, will go on to face top seed and world No. 19 Alister Walker of Botswana.
Walker faced little resistance in despatching Brazilian qualifier Vinicius Rodrigues 11-0, 11-2, 11-4 in just 27 minutes.
It was double joy for the Malaysian camp as national No. 2 Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan made light work of Nigeria’s Baba Tunde Ajaqbe.
Nafiizwan, who is the tournament’s sixth seed, easily won 11-5, 11-2, 11-8 in just 30 minutes. He will go on to meet third seed Nicolas Mueller of Switzerland in the quarter-finals.
“I think I got lucky because I was supposed to meet Cesar Salazar of Mexico in the first round which would have been tougher but there was a redraw at the last minute,” explained Nafiizwan, who is ranked No. 36 in the world.
“It was a good match, not too tough for me which is just fine because it was a good warm-up.
“It will be tougher against Nicolas. He’s a good player and has been playing well but I think I have a 50-50 chance against him.”
In Cleveland, world No. 1 Nicol David will be gunning for her seventh straight title and second for the year when she takes on Egypt’s Nour El Sherbini in the first round of the Cleveland Classic.
Reigning world junior champion Sherbini, who is making a comeback after a lengthy injury layoff since last July, got past former world champion Rachael Grinham of Australia 11-5, 11-5, 11-5 in the qualifying finals.