PETALING JAYA: National squash player Aifa Azman has learnt a harsh lesson in her first tournament in the United States.
Instead of being hard on herself, a positive Aifa is taking an early defeat in her stride.
The 20-year-old lost to American world No. 11 Olivia Fiechter 4-11, 7-11, 8-11 in the second round of the Cleveland Classic on Friday. The world No. 35 had earlier beaten world No.43 from Latvia Ineta Mackevica 11-5, 11-5, 11-8 in the first round at the Cleveland Racquet Club.
The straight-set defeat is demoralising, especially at the beginning of the year, but Aifa believes it will only make her stronger.
“Playing against Olivia was definitely challenging. She showed me why she is the world No. 11 player. I learned in every match,” said the Kedahan.
“I’m trying to reach the same level as the top players. It’s good to have this tournament opportunity to get better in my squash.”
“I’ve had a good time, even though I lost in the second round. Everything here has been great and everyone on the Tour has been really friendly.”
Aifa will now travel to Cincinnati for the Cincinnati Gaynor Open from Feb 2-6.
She will face American world No. 26 Sabrina Sobhy in the first round and hopes to shock her higher-ranked opponent.
“She is one of the top players in the circuit. Her fitness is second to none. She runs for every ball and doesn’t give you an inch during matches,” said Aifa.
“I think the match is going to be tough, but I can’t wait to challenge myself. Hopefully, I can give my all and pull off a shock win.”