National squash player Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan promoting the CIMB Malaysian Open tournament that will be played at Nu Sentral from Aug 18-23. -
KUALA LUMPUR: The CIMB Malaysian Open will be played at a new venue - the Nu Sentral mall for the first time and national No.2 Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan is hoping to get a taste of it as well.
The 28-year-old Nafiizwan however is aware that it will not be easy at all to get that chance. The tournament which starts on Monday will first be played at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil, before moving to Nu Sentral from the quarter-finals onwards.
The Terengganu-born Nafiizwan who made the quarter-finals of the last two Malaysian Opens (2013 and 2012) by beating higher ranked players, will certainly fancy his chances after he was handed a stroke of luck in the draw.
The 28-year-old was initially slated to face world No.3 Mohamed El Shorbagy in the first round. But South African world No.21 Stephen Coppinger withdrew at the eleventh hour, forcing a re-draw.
Nafiizwan will now face a qualifier in the first round and if he wins, he will face Mohamed in the quarter-finals, at Nu Sentral.
“It’s still an uphill task as Mohamed is the third ranked player in the world and a semi-finalist at the World Championships last year,” said Nafiizwan during the official launch of the tournament on Friday.
“But I can’t be giving up now. I need to keep a good momentum especially with the Asian Games in Incheon next month - my main target, coming up.
“I think on overall I’m showing some progress. I wasn’t playing so well earlier but I gave (world No.8) Peter Barker a 55-minute fight at the Commonwealth Games. Even though I lost, it was a confidence boost.”
Besides Nafiizwan, two other Malaysians - national No.1 Ong Beng Hee and wildcard entrant Ivan Yuen are also in the main draw of the Malaysian Open. Seven others - Mohd Azlan Iskandar, Valentino Bon Jovi Bong, Mohd Hannan Tarmidi, Mohd Addeen Idrakie, Sanjay Singh Chal, Elvinn Keo, Gurshan Singh and Mohd Amir Farhan will start from the qualifiers.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad (MRCB) general manager for retail, leasing and marketing Zetty Juyanty A. Rahim said that they would welcome the idea of hosting the Malaysian Open in the future as well if the opportunity arises again.
“Nu Sentral is strategically located and we are open to all sporting events. If all goes well this time, hosting the tournament next year again may be a possibility,” said Zetty.
The Malaysian Open was moved to Nu Sentral after the original venue for the tournament - The Curve in Damansara, was not available from the competition dates of Aug 18-23.