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Sunday August 7, 2011

Asyraf and Ivan a step closer to the main draw

PETALING JAYA: National players Mohd Asyraf Azan and Ivan Yuen got off to good start in their quest to qualify for the main draw of the Australian Open squash championship when they won their first qualifying matches at Canberra yesterday.

National No. 4 Asyraf barely broke sweat in defeating world No. 232 Luke Sims of Australia 11-5, 11-4, 11-2.

The 23-year-old Asyraf will now take on Austrian Aqeel Rehman for a place in the main draw.

Two-time Asian Junior champion Ivan, who has not been playing well of late, showed good pace on court to defeat compatriot Kamran Khan to advance to the second qualifying round.

World No. 119 Ivan won 11-8, 8-11, 11-9, 11-4 but he will face a sterner test when he takes on New Zealand’s Campbell Grayson for a spot in the main draw.

World No. 57 Grayson, who is also the Kiwi national champion, was clinical in disposing compatriot Joseph Watts 11-1, 11-6, 11-4.

The top three Malaysian men – Mohd Azlan Iskandar, Ong Beng Hee and Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan – are yet to begin their campaigns.

Azlan will face Aussie No. 1 David Palmer in the first round of the main draw tomorrow while Beng Hee will take on a qualifier on the same day. Nafiizwan will face a qualifier in the first round on Tuesday.

In the women’s event, all eyes will be on world No. 1 Nicol David following her defeat by Laura Massaro in the semi-finals of the Singapore Masters last month.

Nicol, who will be making her Australian Open debut, has not played Down Under since the 2006 Commonwealth Games and will face local hope Samantha Davies in the first round on Tuesday.

The Malaysian should then meet 15th seed Kylie Lindsay of New Zealand in the next round.

Three other Malaysian women – Low Wee Wern, Delia Arnold and Siti Munirah Jusoh – will also compete in the main draw.

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