KUALA LUMPUR: National squash player Rachel Arnold can hold her head high after giving Belgium’s Neil Gilis a run for her money before going down narrowly in the semi-finals of the Malaysian Open in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
World No. 26 Rachel, who was the last home player standing in the tournament, fought tooth and nail against world No. 14 Gilis before losing 12-10, 0-11, 9-11, 11-7, 6-11 in a thrilling encounter.
Rachel, who captured the title in 2017, had lost to Gilis in three games in the British Open last year but put in a much improved display in her home turf.
The 26-year-old admitted to mixed feelings after the loss.
“I knew it was going to be tough as I lost to her in three games before this. But I’m proud of myself for pushing her hard and fighting for every point,” she said.
“I have mixed feelings now as I feel that I could have pushed her a bit more and stayed patient throughout the match.
“Moving forward, I have to improve on my fitness. If I was a bit fitter, the scores could have been reversed,” said Rachel, who will turn her attention to the World Team championships in Cairo from Dec 10-16 next.
She did receive praise from Gilis after her battling performance.
“Rachel was on fire in the semi-finals. She had plenty of backing from the crowd and it fired her up and made me a bit anxious,” said Gilis.
“She made it really difficult for me and I just went into survivor mode. I’m so happy that I managed to win in the end,” said Gilis.
Gilis will take on either Wales’ Tesni Evans or Olivia Fletcher of the United States for the title today. Women: Neil Gilis (Bel) bt Rachel Arnold 10-12, 11-0, 11-9, 7-11, 11-6.