Aifa steals the show


Aifa Azman clashes with Egypt’s Hana Ramadan during their Malaysian Open quarter-final match at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil. Aifa won 11-9, 11-9, 11-5. — GLENN GUAN/ The Star

PETALING JAYA: Teenager Aifa Azman earned the biggest cheer as she gatecrashed the semi-finals of the Malaysian Open squash championships with another upset win while national No. 1 Ng Eain Yow has made it a double joy.

The 19-year-old Aifa pulled off a stunning 11-9, 11-9, 11-5 win over joint 9-16 seed Hana Ramadan in the women’s quarter-finals at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

The world No. 35 Ramadan was the third Egyptian player to fall victim to Aifa in as many days. She had beaten third seed Yathreb Adel (world No. 31) and Mayar Hany (47) in the earlier rounds.

It’s an incredible outing for a player who has made it to the home tournament only on a wild card invite.

The world No. 69 Aifa was thrilled to check into the home semis for the first time.

“I was nervous at the start as I’ve never played her before but I put all effort into winning every game. I’m happy to win 3-0,” said Aifa.

“It’s great to be in the semis but I won’t stop at that.”

She will take on Canadian fifth seed Danielle Letourneau, who was also in her element as she dumped second seed Nadine Shahin of Egypt 11-4, 9-11, 11-7, 11-8 in another last eight match.

“I’ve never played Danielle before but I am going to study her game with my coach. She has improved a lot and is now a top 20 ranked player but my plan is to win,” said an optimistic Aifa.

National No. 2 Rachel Arnold exited the tournament but still deserved praise for stretching top seed and world No. 8 Salma Hany before losing 3-11, 11-8, 11-6, 6-11, 6-11 in 44 minutes.

In your face: Ng Eain Yow (right) makes a return to Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller during the Malaysian Open quarter-finals at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil. Eain Yow won 11-6, 11-5, 11-5.In your face: Ng Eain Yow (right) makes a return to Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller during the Malaysian Open quarter-finals at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil. Eain Yow won 11-6, 11-5, 11-5.

Meanwhile, in the men’s competition, third seed Eain Yow kept his title charge on course as he pulled off a convincing 11-6, 11-5, 11-5 win over Nicolas Mueller of Switzerland.

“I’ve played him two years ago and it was a close one, so I’m happy to get off in three relatively easy games this time. I don’t think he was 100 per cent fit but I maintained focus,” said Eain Yow, who faces top seed Miguel Rodriguez of Colombia today.

“This will be my third meeting against Miguel in two months and I expect another close match. I’m feeling really good and fresh with the support from home fans here this time,” he added.

RESULTS QUARTER-FINALS

Men: Miguel Rodriguez (Col) bt Shahjahan Khan (US) 11-1, 11-9, 11-1; Ng Eain Yow (Mas) bt Nicolas Mueller (Sui) 11-6, 11-5, 11-5; Victor Crouin (Fra) bt Yip Tsz Fung (Hkg) 11-6, 11-8, 11-7; Saurav Ghosal (Ind) bt Lucas Serme (Fra) 11-7, 11-6, 11-6.

Women: Salma Hany (Egy) bt Rachel Arnold (Mas) 11-3, 8-11, 6-11, 11-6, 11-6; Hollie Naughton (Can) bt Ho Tze Lok (Hkg) 11-8, 13-11, 11-13, 11-5; Aifa Azman (Mas) bt Hana Ramadan (Egy) 11-9, 11-9, 11-5; Danielle Letourneau (Can) bt Nadine Shahin (Egy) 11-4, 9-11, 11-7, 11-8.

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