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Saturday November 17, 2012

In-form Nicol and Wee Wern beat New Zealand in quarter-finals

By KNG ZHENG GUAN

PETALING JAYA: World No. 1 Nicol David delivered a ruthless performance as Malaysia beat New Zealand 2-0 to sweep into the semi-finals of the Women’s World Team squash championship in Nimes, France.

Now, they need to get past topseeds England to make their first ever final, having finished third in the last three editions.

Up against a vastly improved Kiwi side in the quarter-finals, the team were expected to be taken the distance. But Nicol was in no mood for a long night and put world No. 5 Joelle King to the sword.

King had stretched Nicol to five sets in the US Open last month, but the six-time world champion was simply dominant this time, winning 11-5, 11-7, 11-4.

National No. 2 Low Wee Wern, who had a day off on Wednesday, then stepped up to beat Jaclyn Hawkes 11-3, 11-5, 11-13, 11-9 and send Malaysia into their fourth successive semi-finals.

The first two sets were easy for world No. 7 Wee Wern but Hawkes showed her class by rallying from 9-10 down to take the third.

It almost went to a deciding fifth as Hawkes mounted a fightback from 7-10 down in the fourth before Wee Wern held her nerve to win.

The dead rubber between national No. 3 Delia Arnold and Amanda Landers-Murphy was scratched.

“It’s a totally different proposition playing for the country in the team championship,” Wee Wern said in a telephone interview.

“It feels really great to deliver the winning point as I lost to Jaclyn the last time I faced her in the Commonwealth Games two years ago.”

National coach Peter Genever was delighted with the resounding victory but urged the team to remain focused on beating England.

“It was a good result with Nicol producing an excellent display to nullify Joelle. She controlled the entire match and left Joelle unsure and frustrated,” said Genever.

“Delia didn’t play but she had two practice sessions with me and will be fresh for the semi-finals.

“The real job has only just started as we have to beat favourites England to advance to the final.”

England also had an easy win, beating Ireland 3-0 in the quarter-finals.

The order of the play in the semi-finals will be 1-3-2, which means Wee Wern’s tie against world No. 4 Alison Waters could decide the outcome.

Nicol and Delia will take on world No. 3 Laura Massaro and No. 6 Jenny Duncalf respectively.

In other matches, defending champions Australia kept their hopes alive with a stunning 2-1 upset over fourth seeds Hong Kong.

The Aussies face second seeds Egypt, who thrashed India 3-0, in the last four.

Results:

Quarter-finals: England bt Ireland 3-0, Egypt bt India 3-0, Australia bt Hong Kong 2-1, Malaysia bt New Zealand 2-0 (Nicol David bt Joelle King 11-5, 11-7, 11-4; Low Wee Wern bt Jaclyn Hawkes 11-3, 11-5, 11-13, 11-9

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