PETALING JAYA: SEA Games gold medallist Rachel Arnold put behind her recent disappointment as she made a roaring start at the Australian Open squash championships.
The 19-year-old Rachel failed in her bid to win her first professional title last week, blowing away a two-set lead to lose to Hong Kong’s Tong Tsz Wing in the final of the Malaysian Tour Squash Circuit (SSJM) in Kuching.
On Wednesday, the world No. 66 bounced back to send 16th seed Cheyna Tucker of South Africa packing in the first round in Melbourne. The Malaysian needed only 27 minutes to rack up an 11-9, 11-9, 11-5 win over her world No. 61 opponent.
“It was my first time facing Cheyna and I was feeling nervous after last week’s final loss,” said Rachel.
“But I was motivated to win and I played quite well. It’s a good start for me and I’m eager to carry on this form,” she added.
Rachel will next meet seventh seed Joey Chan from Hong Kong, who powered to an 11-7, 11-3, 11-5 win over Malaysia’s Teh Min Jie, in the second round.
National No. 3 Delia, Rachel’s sister, also made a winning start by thrashing Australia’s Moana Gray 11-3, 11-1, 11-3 in just 18 minutes.
The world No. 17 will meet South Africa’s Alexandra Fuller for a place in the quarter-finals.
Vanessa Raj, the fourth Malaysian in the women’s competition, failed to live up to her 16th seed tag. She was beaten 11-8, 11-13, 6-11, 7-11 by unseeded Australian Lisa Camilleri.
In the men’s event, SEA Games champion Sanjay Singh Chal opened his account with a solid 11-2, 11-5, 11-9 win over England’s Jonathan Maloney.
The 21-year-old Sarawakian’s next match is against top seed and home favourite Cameron Pilley in the second round.
“It will be tough, but I’m looking forward to gain some experience playing a top player like Cameron. I just hope to play well and maybe pull off a surprise,” said Sanjay, the world No. 115.
National No. 1 and second seed Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan also reached the second round, but it was the end of the road for Valentino Bon Jovi Bong.
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