Can’t tame this wild card

Back to you: Aifa Azman (left) returning a shot to Canada’s Danielle Letourneau during the Malaysian Open semi-final match at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil. — IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/The Star

PETALING JAYA: There’s just no end to Malaysian teenage sensation Aifa Azman’s fairy-tale run as she sent the fans into a frenzy by storming into the women’s final at the Malaysian Open squash championships.

Aifa, playing on a wild card invite, kept up her giant-killing feat by stunning Canadian fifth seed Danielle Letourneau 11-4, 11-7, 5-11, 11-3 in the semi-final at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

Backed by the vociferous home crowd, Aifa rose to the challenge by wrapping up the first two games in quick fashion.

Letourneau, ranked 19th in the world, fought back to win the third game but Aifa was relentless in charging to an 11-3 win in the fourth game in the 32-minute triumph.

She enthusiastically celebrated after sealing the winning point, obviously delighted about her achievement in entering the Malaysian Open final for the first time. And the icing on the cake was that it was her first victory over a world top-20 player.

“My strategy was to play more shots at the front as she was really good at covering herself. I can’t believe that I am in the final. At the start of the week, I told my mum that I wished she would be able to see me play over the weekend.

“It’s my biggest tournament success and I’m looking forward to the final tomorrow,” said the 19-year-old.

“I was not expecting to go far but after the draw was made, I thought I had a chance to do well.

“I took things step by step and beating higher ranked players certainly boosted my confidence,” said the gushing Aifa.

Aifa will take on top seed Salma Hany of Egypt as she bids to become the fifth local to win the Malaysian Open women’s title after Low Wee Wern, Rachel Arnold, S. Sivasangari and Nicol David in the last decade.

Salma, ranked eighth in the world, defeated Canadian Hollie Naughton 11-1, 11-8, 11-5 in the other semi-final.

“Nothing’s going to stop me now. I think the pressure is not on me as I am just a wild card,” added the world ranked 69th player who had earlier beaten three higher ranked Egyptians en route to the semis.

Aifa took out world No. 47 Mayar Hany of Egypt 11-8, 11-3, 11-5 in her opening match on Tuesday.

She sent third seed and world No. 31 Yathreb Adel packing with an 11-3, 9-11, 8-11, 11-4, 11-7 win to reach the last eight.

Aifa advanced to the semis after winning 11-9, 11-9, 11-5 against ninth to 16th seed Hana Ramadan in the quarter-finals.

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 46
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
Join our Telegram channel to get our Evening Alerts and breaking news highlights

Next In Squash

Bring on the best
SRAM to meet state bodies over funding issues related to dropped players
Rachel fancies chance of reaching at least third round in Cleveland
NSC: We have not closed door on Wee Wern
Wee Wern turns down SRAM offer, will seek own funding
NSC make it clear that Wee Wern not left out in the cold
Aifa ready to travel abroad on her own to gain experience
Sivasangari remains positive despite failing to hit top 25 target
Wee Wern down but not out for long after shock exclusion
Former No. 1 Wee Wern axed from Podium Programme

Others Also Read