PETALING JAYA: Malaysians Ong Beng Hee and Mohd Azlan Iskandar took different routes to the semi-finals of the CIMB Malaysian Open squash championships at The Curve in Mutiara Damansara yesterday.
While defending champion Azlan breezed to an 11-3, 11-5, 11-3 win over Mansoor Zaman of Pakistan in just 18 minutes, second seed Ong Beng Hee had to fight for his life against another Pakistani, Farhan Mehboob, in yesterday’s quarter-finals.
Playing on the new glass court, Beng Hee toiled for 90 minutes before prevailing over the sixth-seeded Farhan 14-16, 9-11, 11-1, 11-8, 11-8.
World No. 11 Beng Hee will today face fourth seed and world No. 14 Stewart Boswell of Australia for a place in the final.
Boswell, who lost to Azlan in the final last year, was also taken to the limit by fifth seed Omar Mosaad of Egypt before winning 26-24, 8-11, 9-11, 11-5, 11-4 in 87 minutes.
The other semi-final will pit Azlan against world No. 9 and top seed Wael El Hindi of Egypt.
The Egyptian also faced a strong challenge from unseeded Saurav Ghosal of India before coming back from a set down to win 10-12, 11-8, 11-6, 11-4.
Beng Hee, who won the Kuala Lumpur Open title in March, was leading 10-6 in the first set against Farhan and needed just a point to seal it. Instead, he lost his concentration and went down 14-16.
Luckily, the Malaysian managed to get his game together from the third set onwards.
Beng Hee attributed his lapse of concentration in the first set to off-court matters regarding his Pakistani coach Jamshed Gul, whose contract with the Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) expires at the end of this month.
“He has helped me a lot in my training here in Malaysia and I have improved physically and mentally. I really don’t know what I will do if his contract is not extended. I owe him a lot,” said Beng Hee.
As for the match, he said: “It was a good wake-up call for me in preparation for my match against Boswell, who also had a tiring match and I hope I can rise to occasion and reach the final.”
Beng Hee, who defeated Boswell in the semi-finals of the KL Open in March, is gunning for his third Malaysian Open title. He was the first national player to win the title in 2000 and repeated the feat in 2005.
Jamshed, meanwhile, said he would love to continue working in Malaysia and hoped that his one-year contract would be extended.