Clever change of strategy helps Aifa slay another Egyptian to reach quarter-finals


Bring them on: Aifa Azman faces another Egyptian and world No. 35 Hana Ramadan in the quarter-finals.

PETALING JAYA: Aifa Azman continued with her blistering form in the Malaysian Open squash championships by eliminating another higher ranked Egyptian player to reach the quarter-finals.

Aifa rallied from one set down to beat third seed and world No. 31 Yathreb Adel 11-3, 9-11, 8-11, 11-4, 11-7 in the women’s second round at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

National No. 2 Rachel Arnold, ranked 43rd in the world, also did not disappoint when she knocked out seventh seed and world No. 23 Donna Lobban of Australia 11-9, 12-10, 11-4 for another upset of the day.

World No. 69 Aifa switched to a different game strategy to get the better of her Egyptian rival after trailing 1-2 and it paid off as she came back to win the next two sets, sealing victory in 47 minutes.

“I won the first easily and I thought I was going to win 3-0 but she changed her game and turned it around,” said Aifa, the former British Junior Open champion.

“I knew I needed to do something in the fourth as she was taking everything in the middle.

“I needed to hit to the front and back to break her rhythm and I managed to do that to win the fourth and fifth.”

Aifa, who had upstaged world No. 47 Mayar Hany of Egypt in the opener, faces another Egyptian and world No. 35 Hana Ramadan next.

Ramadan upset sixth seed Emily Whitlock of Wales 11-7, 11-0, 11-7 earlier.

“I’m very happy with my performance as I have beaten two seeded players so far but Hana will be another tough one,” said Aifa.

“I saw her play and she has improved a lot in the last two years. I need to have a good game plan,” she added.

National No. 1 Ng Eain Yow got his campaign off to a winning start in the men’s competition by beating compatriot Ivan Yuen 11-6, 9-11, 11-6, 11-1 to enter the last eight.

Third seed Eain Yow, the only surviving Malaysian male player, will go up against Nicolas Mueller of Switzerland.

“I was nervous as I had lost early in my last competition a week ago.

“I was struggling with my confidence at the start as I knew what Ivan was capable of,” said Eain Yow, who had a bye in the first round on Tuesday.

“He did well to hang in there and win a game but I trusted my game plan and I executed it well in the last two games.”

SECOND ROUND RESULTS

Men: Miguel Rodriguez (Col) bt Ryosei Kobayashi (Jpn) 5-11, 11-5, 11-13, 11-3, 12-10; Shahjahan Khan (US) bt Karim El Hammamy (Egy) 6-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-6; Nicolas Mueller (Sui) bt Tayyab Aslam (Pak) 11-7, 11-7, 11-7; Ng Eain Yow (Mas) bt Ivan Yuen (Mas) 11-6, 9-11, 11-6, 11-1; Yip Tsz Fung (Hkg) bt Youssef Soliman (Egy) 11-8, 9-11, 11-5, 8-11, 11-9; Victor Croulin (Fra) bt Ramid Tandon (Ind) 11-8, 11-8, 7-11, 11-5; Lucas Serme (Fra) bt Bernat Jaume (Spa) 11-6, 11-3, 11-1; Saurav Ghosal (Ind) bt Mazen Gamal (Egy) 11-4, 11-4, 11-7.

Women: Salma Hany (Egy) bt Lee Ka Yi (Hkg) 14-12, 11-9, 12-10; Rachel Arnold (Mas) bt Donna Lobban (Aus) 11-9, 12-10, 11-4; Ho Tsz Lok (Hkg) bt Farida Mohamed (Egy) 9-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-9; Hollie Naughton (Can) bt Menna Hamed (Egy) 11-5, 12-10, 11-8; Aifa Azman (Mas) bt Yathreb Adel (Egy) 11-3, 9-11, 8-11, 11-4, 11-7; Hana Ramadan (Egy) bt Emily Whitlock (Wal) 11-7, 11-0, 11-7; Danielle Letourneau (Can) bt Anna Serme (Cze) 11-7, 11-3, 11-8; Nadine Shahin (Egy) bt Nada Abbass (Egy) 9-11, 14-12, 8-11, 11-8, 11-4.

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