Aifa holds court as she moves closer to first national title

In control: Aifa Azman beat Yee Xing Ying 9-11, 11-0, 11-7, 11-6 in just 20 minutes at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil.

PETALING JAYA: Aifa Azman made the most of a favourable draw and the opportunity to play in a glass court by reaching the women’s semi-finals of the National Championships.

Second seed Aifa closed in on her objective of winning a first national title when she dropped a game to beat Yee Xing Ying 9-11, 11-0, 11-7, 11-6 in just 20 minutes at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil.

She will play Chan Yiwen next.

“Normally, glass court action in the PSA (Professional Squash Association) events only starts at the quarter-final stage and it is good to play there and get some warm-up,” said Aifa.

“It’s been quite a long time since I played in a glass court and since my match was the first of the day, it was a little warm and I couldn’t find my length.

“My target is to win this title as I’ve not won the national championships before. As the second seed, I have avoided playing Sangari (S. Sivasangari) or Rachel (Arnold) in the semis but that’s not a big advantage. I will focus on beating Yiwen and get to the final first.”

Yiwen was forced to work hard for her 11-4, 11-13, 15-13, 10-12, 11-8 win over fellow national player Ainaa Amani in 51 minutes.

Top seed Sivasangari also dropped a game against Aifa’s sister Aira before notching an 11-3, 11-5, 5-11, 11-5 win in 26 minutes to book her semi-final berth.

Rachel kept it clean when she overcame Lai Wen Li 11-7, 11-4, 11-8 to set up a mouth-watering clash against Sivasangari.

Meanwhile, men’s second seed Ivan Yuen was forced to rely on his experience against national junior Joachim Chuah before securing a 12-10, 9-11, 11-7, 11-3 win in the last eight.

“Joachim is one of the up-and-coming junior players and played with a lot of confidence. I started off a little slow and didn’t get the rhythm I had expected. It was a bit uncomfortable out there,” said Ivan, the four-time winner.

“I just kept hanging on and came back strongly in the third and fourth games.

“The semi-final against Addeen (Idrakie) will be tough and I need to clear this before thinking about the title.”

Addeen defeated Darren Pragasam 17-15, 11-4, 11-6 in the quarter-finals to earn the right to play Ivan next.

In another last-eight clash between two national players, Syafiq Qamal emerged victorious with an 11-7, 11-8, 11-6 win over Ong Sai Hung.

Top seed Ng Eain Yow secured an 11-5, 11-3, 11-1 win over national junior Andrik Lim and will play Syafiq in the last four today.

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