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Saturday October 15, 2005

Beng Hee stuns Palmer despite injury and long delay


PETALING JAYA: Malaysian Ong Beng Hee pulled off an epic upset in the British Open squash championships when he stunned two-time defending champion David Palmer in a match that took nearly 22 hours to complete. 

An injury during play on Thursday forced the match to be delayed for 20 hours and the two took to court again yesterday morning at 11am (6pm Malaysian time) at the National Squash Centre in Manchester. Play alone took 100 minutes. 

BENG HEE: The biggest win of his career
The Malaysian had been 2-1 ahead (7-11,11-4, 6-11) in games and 2-1 up in the fourth when Palmer was awarded a stroke for interference by his opponent.  

But the Australian world number three, who is seeking his fourth British Open title in five years, was unable to stop himself colliding with Beng Hee, which left the Malaysian with a calf injury. 

As it was a “contributed” injury, Beng Hee was entitled to a “recovery break”. 

When play restarted yesterday, Beng Hee lost 8-11 in the resumed game but prevailed 11-9 in the decider to dethrone Palmer. The former world junior champion will now face another Australian, Anthony Ricketts, in the quarter-final. 

“After the treatment last night and lots of anti-inflammatories, I felt fine and I didn’t feel anything during the match,” Beng Hee told www.squashsite.co.uk. “It was weird, it was the first time I had this kind of experience ... coming back to play the next day. 

FRUSTRATED: David Palmer feels that the decision to postpone the match was not the right one.
“For the past two years, everybody knows I started from zero, I changed my life, I changed my coach, I changed my swing. So this definitely is the best win I have had for the past two years,” added Beng Hee, whose career has been flagging for a while and is now ranked world No 17. 

“Even when I was up at number seven in the world, I never beat any of the top four players in a PSA event. So, beating Palmer, such a player, is a very big deal for me. 

“I know for the past two years I didn’t have any good results due to the total reconstruction of my life. I did ask the people in Malaysia to be patient with me. Some were, some weren’t. I hope that now that I have shown that I am me again, the criticisms will soon die out. 

“Today I learnt a lot from my match with David, I realised if I want to win against such players on a regular basis, I have to be more aggressive, quick on the ball and attack. As far as tomorrow is concerned, I don’t have any game plan against Anthony, I am just going to enjoy the match. 

“I am glad to say I am enjoying my squash again, I am enjoying my life too.” 

Palmer, meanwhile, was frustrated over the result. “I felt that last night the decision to postpone the match was not the right one.  

“Everything about it was wrong. And I believe I would have probably won it in five games had we gone on with the last game last night. 

“Having said that, today I did not deserve to win. I am not playing well, I don’t know why as I am training and working very hard.  

“I know it’s not the pressure of trying to win a fourth British Open. I am just playing the way I should. There was no way I was going to win the title.” 

Meanwhile, Malaysia’s top women’s player Nicol David easily booked her place in the last eight, taking just 31 minutes to knock out Shelley Kitchen of New Zealand 9-5, 9-1, 9-4. Third-seeded Nicol takes on England’s best hope Vicky Botwright, the sixth seed, in the last eight today. 

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