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Friday April 26, 2013

Nafiizwan survives stiff test to reach quarter-finals

KUALA LUMPUR: Reigning Asian champion Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan kept Malaysia’s interest alive in the Irish Open by reaching the quarter-finals.

The Terengganu-born Nafiizwan, who will be defending his Asian individual title in Islamabad next week, faced a strong challenge from France’s Johan Bouquet before winning the first round 11-9, 11-4, 11-13, 11-7 in 48 minutes yesterday.

However, Malaysia’s Ivan Yuen was not so lucky, putting up a good fight against world No. 29 and top seed Chris Simpson of England before going down 7-11, 11-9, 6-11, 8-11 in the first round.

World No. 40 and second seed Nafiizwan will face Shaun Le Roux of South Africa for a place in the semi-finals. Le Roux, ranked 59th in the world, came back from a set down to beat qualifier Zahed Mohamed of Egypt 5-11, 11-9, 11-4, 14-12 in 61 minutes.

Nafiizwan, who turned 27 on Wednesday, said that he struggled against the French player but hopes to play much better against Le Roux in the quarter-finals.

“I’ve never met the South Afri-can before but I expect another tough challenge from him,” said Nafiizwan.

“I need to stay focused ... I intend to live up to my billing.

“A good outing in the tournament will boost my hopes of defending my Asian title.”

In the women’s competition, world No. 23 and third seed Aisling Blake of Ireland suffered a shock defeat in the hands of qualifier Deon Saffery of Wales 5-11, 7-11, 9-11 in 30 minutes.

World No. 51 Saffery will face France’s Coline Aumard, who upset fifth seed Lauren Briggs of England, in the quarter-finals.

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