End of the road for Aifa

Tough battle: Aifa Azman went down 8-11, 11-7, 9-11, 9-11 to Rachel Arnold during the SRAM PSA 7 final.

PETALING JAYA: National No. 2 Rachel Arnold ended Aifa Azman’s unbeaten streak in the SRAM PSA (Professional Squash Association) final with a superb late rally.

Rachel held off a tough fight by Aifa to win 11-8, 7-11, 11-9, 11-9 in 40 minutes at the SRAM PSA 7 tournament yesterday.

With the defeat, Aifa’s bid to lift her 11th straight PSA title came to an end at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil.

Aifa, the national No. 4, lifted the PSA 6 title when she trounced Chan Yiwen 11-5, 11-1, 11-3 last week but finally met her match against the more experienced Rachel.

It marked a fine comeback from Rachel who took some time off after coming down with food poisoning upon her return from the British Open in August.

“I had to sit out the PSA 6 last month because I felt I was not quite ready,” said Rachel.

“Yesterday, I was really focused especially towards the end as I wanted badly to win this tournament.

“Aifa has definitely improved and gave me a good fight since our last meeting,” said Rachel, who sees the victory as a good boost ahead of the Malaysian Open in two weeks’ time.

“This is a good preparation. With this win, I’ve set myself a last-eight target in the Malaysian Open,” said the 25-year-old.

In the semi-finals, Rachel fought hard to beat Aifa’s younger sister, Aira, 11-8, 12-10, 11-5 on Monday.

Aifa, a former British Junior Open champion, saw off sixth seed Noor Ainaa Amani Ampandi 11-4, 11-8, 11-0 in the other match-up.

In men’s semi-finals, top seed and national No. 2 Ivan Yuen defeated Ong Sai Hung 11-8, 12-10, 11-8. Ivan, who is seeking his third straight title, will take on second seed Addeen Idrakie.

Addeen made the final when he outplayed fourth seed Syafiq Kamal 8-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-7.

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