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Saturday March 24, 2012

Azlan slams CIMB Open draw as being ‘ridiculous’

KUALA LUMPUR: National No. 1 Mohd Azlan Iskandar has slammed the draw for the CIMB Nicol David Open squash championships, which begin on Monday, as “ridiculous”.

“It’s ridiculous to have three Malay­sian players in the same half of the draw. Playing against two team-mates in the first two rounds of the championships is just not fair,” said Azlan.

The 29-year-old Azlan, who is seeded second, will open his campaign against national No. 3 Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan in the first round.

Azlan, who has recovered from torn thigh muscles, has never lost to reigning Asian champion Nafiizwan.

If Azlan gets past Nafiizwan, he could face 32-year-old compatriot Ong Beng Hee in the quarter-finals.

Beng Hee, ranked 23rd in the world, faces a qualifier in the first round.

World No. 10 Azlan tore the muscles on his right thigh in a second round match against Egypt’s Karim Abdel Gawad in the North American Open on Feb 22.

Azlan, who won the KL Open in 2003 and 2006, thought it would take a longer period for him to recover from the injuries.

“It’s a miracle that I’ve recovered in three weeks. I have been training for a couple of days and am moving well on court,” said Azlan, who upset world No. 1 James Willstrop of England in the World Series Finals in London in January.

Youngster Ivan Yuen is the wildcard entry and his first round opponent is fourth seed Adrian Grant of England.

World No. 4 Karim Darwish of Egypt is the top seed.

In the women’s competition, world No. 1 Nicol will be gunning for her eighth title in 12 appearances.

The six-time world champion faces a qualifier in the first round.

Others in the same half of the draw as Nicol are fourth seed Madeline Perry of Ireland and fifth seed Raneem El Weleily of Egypt.

World No. 13 and national No. 2 Low Wee Wern, another wildcard entrant, faces El Weleily in the first round.

World No. 2 Jenny Duncalf of England is the second seed.

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