CIMB Malaysian Open 2011
Jul, Kuala Lumpur
Top Seeds Triumph
Gregory Gaultier and Nicol David both lived up to
their top billing at the 2011 Malaysian Open as the duo chalked up
convincing straight game victories in today's finals at the Curve
Shopping Mall in KL.
While it was Gaultier’s maiden Malaysian Open title (in his first
PSA tournament in Malaysia), it was David’s seventh consecutive win
in the event.
 Grégory Gaultier (Fra) bt
Aamir Atlas Khan (Pak)
11/8, 11/3, 11/3 (43m)
Fairy tale ends for Khan
on court were the men, with Aamir Atlas Khan featuring in his first
five-star final looking to continue his giant killing run. With Khan
being on form and had beaten Gaultier back in 2009 when the
Frenchman was world number one, many had expected this to be an
interesting and close affair. Gaultier, however, was a class above
and apart from the first game, was never threatened.
The match started off very slowly, with both players choosing to get
their lengths and depth right, never putting much pace on the
rallies. The first 2-3 points were similar to watching a back court
game. At 3-each, Gaultier decided to up the pace but Khan managed to
keep up till mid game. The Frenchman broke away to 10-7 with some
ferocious rallies that often forced mistakes off Khan’s racket
rather than winners. Khan saves a game point, the next 3 rallies
finishing in lets, before the Pakistani tins an attempted backhand
second half of the first game seemed to have tired out Khan, who was
nowhere like the player he was in the last two days. His movements
were slower and his touches were not as sharp - four strokes in a
game against him from his attacks which either came right back or he
couldn’t clear fast enough.
The first was a real shocker, when at 1-3 down, he went for the nick
off the serve and the ball sailed right back to the T nearly waist
With the score at 5-2, Gaultier hit a forehand kill which Khan
thought was down. He questions the main referee who thought it was
good, who then asks for a call on the shot from the other two – and
they were split. A let was finally decided by the main referee due
to the different calls from the two assistant referees. This drew
disagreement from Gaultier and also surprised many, as it seems the
main referee's call was not considered in the decision. Of course,
this was even more evident in this tournament since the term of
“team/majority decision” was so often used by the referees.
by the call, the Frenchman continued with the intensity and won the
next five points to get to game ball. Khan saves just the one and
was now faced with a 2-game deficit. The third saw Gaultier in total
control and never allowing Khan much time on the T. The former world
number one clinched the title with a tight straight forehand drop
which hugged the side wall.
Though soundly beaten, Khan would have been very happy with his run
in the tournament and debuting in a major final. So much so, I
couldn’t help but notice Khan went straight to collect his pay
cheque even before changing and the prize giving ceremony (held
after the ladies final)!
 Nicol David (Mas) bt  Jenny Duncalf (Eng)
11/6, 12/10, 11/5 (42m)
Nicol David kept the Malaysian Open trophy on home soil as she
clinched her seventh in the series in front of a loud and cheering
crowd. As the men’s final came to a close, you could see the
balconies on all floors being filled while at the vicinity of the
court, the usual fans were already at full force with the cheering.
always pitied anyone who’s had to play David in Malaysia in the
final the last couple of years. It can be pretty daunting!
The match started just the way the crowd had wished for. David was
sharp and on song to take a quick 4-0 lead, the last through a
backhand drop. This was aided by a less impressive Duncalf, who
might’ve been a little shaken by the atmosphere, but at the same
time, if there’s anyone who could get used to it, it would be her.
The English lass earned her first point courtesy of a tin from
David, who by then had a 6-point cushion.
the game progressed, Duncalf settled in and was her usual self,
matching David’s game. But it was a little too late in this game as
the huge deficit did the damage.
Both players continued playing well in the second and had some long
rallies. It was the Malaysian who was in the lead most of the time;
4-2 then 7-4 after Duncalf tins. A string of 3 points by the world
number two brought her on level terms.
tempo of play was fast and aggressive from both players by now, with
Duncalf more aggressive with going for winners while David trying to
extend the rallies. Duncalf leads for the first time in this game
8-7 after a long rally and a tin from David followed after that. The
crowd was looking rather worried for the first time, and Duncalf
added salt to the wound with a drop shot winner to have her first of
three game balls. Two winners from David brought her within a point
and a no let decision to Duncalf drew her level.
At this point, the press officer came to tell me about prize giving
proceedings and by the time she was done, the pair was leaving the
court already. Two points had come and gone in a flash! David two
third saw David came firing right from the start, took the lead and
never losing it. The first half was close, Duncalf tried to keep up
and was most of the time just 1 or 2 points away.
But at 5-4 up, David played a very attacking game and was
controlling the T so well to string a series of 5 points to game
ball. She converted it on the second attempt with a tight forehand
The crowd went crazy!
Duncalf was unlucky to not clinch the second and lose the tiebreak
so easily (so quick I assume it was easy). Had she drew level at a
game each, things might have been very different.
Both the finals ending in straight games is rather anti-climax!
ALEX WAN REPORTS... ON THE SEMIS
Gaultier just too
stormed into the final of the 2011 Malaysian Open in a sounding
fashion as he disposed off Alan Clyne in just 41 minutes. The
Frenchman was simply a class above the world number 49 from
Tried as hard as he may, but Gaultier was never troubled and
dictated play from the start. The first two games saw Gaultier race
to huge leads before Clyne broke the duck.
Gaultier dropped 5 points towards the end in each but closed both
out easily. Though having played in the qualifiers and had some long
matches, Clyne did not show much after effects in the first two.
The third was a similar story, Gaultier going 8-0 up before Clyne
got back a point. Gaultier worked Clyne hard and his speed was
beginning to slow down. Tiredness was slowly creeping into the Scot
as he begun to have trouble clearing his drops, and Gaultier picked
up a few easy points through strokes.
This had Clyne upset, who disagreed with the referees on more than
one occasion. Another 3 points from Gaultier and he enters the final
without dropping a single game.
Clyne wouldn’t be too unhappy with his loss. Ranked 49th in the
world and reaching the semis of an International 50+ tournament
isn’t a bad feat at all.
Khan scores a first
The other semi final was against Cameron Pilley and Aamir
Atlas Khan. There was a lot to play for both of them as the
winner would be in the final of a tournament of this stature for the
first time. In the end, it was Khan who came out the winner
deservingly, who later said he is currently on form and playing
Both players started very cautiously in the first, playing the court
deep and wide. It was Khan who was the first to step up a gear as he
began to go for his shots, earning him a healthy lead to 8-3. Pilley
continued to stick to his game plan of keeping the ball at the back
and not allowing much play in the front corners, where Khan is
Aussie must also have watched Khan’s match the day before, as all
attempts to the nick off the serve were saved. Slowly, Pilley clawed
back to 9-9. A no let decision gave Khan game ball, after which he
tinned in the next rally.
A no let again, this time against Khan and Cameron had game ball. He
duly converted with a forehand volley kill. Khan would have been
very unhappy to have lost this game.
Having won the first, it must’ve given Pilley some confidence as he
began to play more aggressively and started to attack the front a
lot more. At 2-each, Khan slams the serve into the nick, his first
of the afternoon after many failed attempts.
Then at 3-3, Khan hits a forehand crosscourt drive so hard and low,
it had Pilley looking for the ball, who thought it was another
attempt at the nick. Khan’s shot making were coming to effect and he
finished the game off with a deceptive forehand drive off the front
which sent Pilley the wrong way.
The third was a stroll for Khan, who was 10-2 up in no time and a
stroke wrapped up the game 11-4, Khan started off from where he left
and went 5-0 up in the fourth. Employing a strategy of somewhat
hitting the ball hard and low, the Aussie’s tall frame worked
against him as he was forced to bend real low to retrieve. A long
rally ensued at 5-1, with great retrieving on display from both
players and Pilley finally gave up.
Khan continues to dominate and races away to 8-3 before Pilley gave
all that he had left in his reserves. He does manage to get close
within 2 points to 7-9. Khan won the next rally to hold game ball,
which he needed three to score his biggest final ticket of his
Top two to meet in final
The top two seeds, Nicol David and Jenny Duncalf, who
are also the world’s top two players, setup a mouth watering final
tomorrow when both beat their opponents in straight games.
the scores may be 3-0, they were both very well challenged by their
opponents in two of the games that could’ve gone either way.
Duncalf took to court first against French youngster Camille
Serme, who was clinical yesterday in her win against Joelle
King. She continued to impress here, matching Duncalf point for
point in the first game.
The world number two started much better compared to yesterday and
got her rhythm very quickly. However, it was Serme who broke away to
10-7 but failed to convert any of the three game balls she had,
allowing Duncalf to force the tie break. A pair of game balls were
split, before Serme tins a drop to 12-13, which Duncalf converts at
her second attempt.
came firing in the second game and opened up an 8-2 lead with some
well orchestrated rallies. Serme simply did not have an answer in
this game and manages just another 3 points. The third started very
equally matched with the pair trading point for point and exchanging
leads several times, with Serme last led at 5-4.
Duncalf levels and pulls away to 7-5. An amazing rally followed;
Serme in total control and attacking the corners. The English lass
chased down everything, and suddenly turned what would’ve normally
been a defensive pickup into a deceptive flick to the back of the
court which Serme could only watch. Duncalf maintains goes 8-5 up
and maintains the 3-point margin till the end.
beaten Delia Arnold in a very close match in the first round, the
Malaysian audience was looking for their squash queen to exact
revenge on Omneya Abdel Kawy.
The pair has a rivalry dating back to their early/mid teenage years
so both are very familiar with each other’s capabilities. David
has pulled away in the last few years, but today she was not in her
element and was made to work by the Egyptian.
The first game was fairly contested with both players having their
chances to be in the lead. David was playing her game of moving Kawy
around while the Egyptian was trying to attack when she could. The
Malaysian was making far too many mistakes than her usual self,
clipping the tin on one too many occasions.
Towards the end, Kawy led 8-7 after executing a beautiful backhand
crosscourt drop from the back. She led again at 9-8, after which
David made no more mistakes to take the next 3 points to go one up.
The second started similarly and this time, Kawy opened up a much
healthier lead at 8-5. David pulled back within a point at 7-8, and
Kawy responded with a cross court drive so wide David had no chance.
A dubious call of awarding David a stroke at Kawy 9-8 up got the
Egyptian out demanding an explanation from the referees (who
couldn’t quite do so) and earned herself a conduct warning. However,
after discussing with Nicol, the Malaysian gave thumbs up for a let
to be played and the decision was reversed.
responded by taking the next point to draw level. A stroke followed
when Kawy reversed directly into an oncoming David off a loose
return to give her game ball at 10-9.
In the next rally, another drama ensued when the main referee had
called David’s lob out, asked to stop play and awarded the point to
Kawy, but later reversed it because of “team decision” from the
other 2 referees.
The next rally literally killed off Kawy. It seemed that David had
in plan to keep it going forever until the Egyptian would fall flat.
After hitting a defensive boast, Kawy had given up and stayed at the
back of court but David hit it straight back at her, who smacked it
hard and low and it was now David who had to hit the defensive
boast, which Kawy killed off with a drop into the nick. David won
the next two points without much resistance as Kawy had tire out.
There wasn’t much competition in the third as the Egyptian was still
reeling off the effects of the rally at the end of the previous
game. With David increasing the pace and speed, Kawy was left with
no choice and tried for winners from all corners. A stroll from the
Malaysian to seal victory.
Coming onto court right after the men’s second seed had been beaten
in straight games, Jenny Duncalf was heading towards the same
fate in her match against Kasey Brown. But the world number
two managed to regain her cool to sneak through to the semi finals
after coming back from two games down.
Duncalf started off the match well, taking a 3-point lead right till
middle of the game. Brown manages to pull back to 5-all, after
Duncalf had sent her return of serve into the tin. Duncalf manages
to get into the lead again at 6-5 and 7-6, but that would be the
last time she did. Two tins in a row gave Brown her first lead of
the match at 8-7 and a crosscourt volley drop later earned her game
point. Duncalf pulls back to 10-9 and a stroke decision in favour of
the Australian sealed the game. A clearly unhappy screamed at the
decision in disgust.
the second, Brown raced to a quick 7-3 lead. Duncalf seem not to be
able to play her normal game and many of her shots were loose.
Perhaps the stroke decision earlier was still bugging her. It didn’t
help that Brown was in her element and picking up everything Duncalf
threw at her. As Brown got to 8-3, Duncalf flips her racket into the
air in frustration. A drive that dies at the back would give Brown
her game point at 10-5, after which she drops another point before
taking a 2-0 lead.
third was a close affair in the first half, both players trading
point for point. More decisions had to be made by the referees, of
which Duncalf questioned. Clearly, she was getting annoyed that she
wasn’t given an explanation to the decisions apart from “it’s a team
decision”. Two consecutive tins proved costly from Brown as this
opened up a 8-5 lead for Duncalf, who finished off in style with a
dead crosscourt nick to the front left corner.
Kasey Brown started the fourth brilliantly to take a 3-1 lead,
before being wrong footed by Duncalf for 3-2. The lead increased as
the game progressed, up to 8-5, where the English lass would pull
back to 8-8 and then game point at 10-8. An attempt to play a drop
ends in the tin to force the tie break. But Duncalf manages to
recompose and win the next 2 points to force the decider. Duncalf
was very pumped up now while the tiredness in Brown was more and
more apparent. From 3-3 onwards, Duncalf cruised to 11-4 to wrap the
End of the road for giant killing King
King, who yesterday evening was impressive in her straight games
upset of Madeline Perry, the fourth seed, today was out of sorts
against Camille Serme of France.
Both players started out very cautiously, playing deep into the back
corners without much action in the front. Serme’s better depths in
her shots were the key, as she strolled through 11-6.
In the next game, King opened up a quick 6-1 lead, which was
cancelled out almost immediately by her own self, no thanks to
numerous tins. At 6-all, two strokes gave King back the lead to 8-6,
but the rest was all she could manage.
The third game, though the score might indicate otherwise, but Serme
was in firm control of things most of the time.
The Queen delivers
David, undoubtedly the sports darling of Malaysian sports currently,
delivered what she did best, WIN.
The crowd had gathered all around the concourse and also the
balconies on the upper floors of The Curve shopping mall for this
moment. As she was introduced, loud cheers were all around. She did
not disappoint and raced to a 7-0 and 8-1 lead, never allowing
Massaro much time at the T. The English lass, the only one who has
beaten David this year, somehow managed to get control and came back
to 9-7, before David closed out the game.
In the second, it was very close in the beginning before Massaro
pulled away 6-3 and continued to lead all the way. David managed to
reduce the deficit to a single point to 8-7 with a tight backhand
drive but lost the next 2 points and now faced game ball. Massaro
tins a drop and the next point as well, allowing David the
opportunity to be a point away from forcing the tie break. One could
sense the anxiousness of the audience by now. Massaro finishes with
a perfect length, drawing sighs from all over.
David came back with a vengeance in the third, allowing Massaro only
a single point in the earlier part of the game.
The fourth was similar, Massaro winning the first point before David
raced to 8-1 with her trademark Duracell bunny performance.
Everything Massaro threw at her, she chased them down. Then either
she would send Massaro all over the court or force a mistake.
It seems déjà vu as Massaro was slowly fighting back again just like
in the first game, only this time up to 9-6, before Malaysia’s
squash queen wrapped it up in just under an hour.
What a comeback!
the last match of the evening, third seed Rachael Grinham was
outlasted by Egyptian Omneya Abdel Kawy in a highly
entertaining match between these two great shotmakers - plenty of
volley drops and deceptive flicks. Such a shame the majority of the
crowd had left (as the shops were closing and it’s close to 10pm) by
the time this started.
The Egyptian took first game 11-7. Both players had a run of a
series of points each, and Kawy had the final straw. The second game
was all Grinham as she led from start to finish, outrunning her
younger opponent in most of the rallies, picking up everything and
forcing mistakes out of Kawy. A beautiful forehand crosscourt drop
from the middle of the court sealed the game.
Grinham started well in the third and led most of the time, with
Kawy drawing level twice at 5 and 7-all. There were long rallies
being battled throughout the game. A stroke against Kawy at 8-7 gave
GRinham a 2-point cushion to 9-7. However, the Egyptian won the next
4 points to lead the match once again. The punishing rallies in the
third probably took its toll on Kawy, as the fourth was practically
given away. Grinham was never really troubled and was aided by the
six shots into the tin by Kawy.
The decider was indeed a gem. Both players traded point for point in
the first half, before Kawy dictated play and raced to match ball at
10-5 from 3-4 down. Grinham fought back very hard, ran and picked up
everything. Again, in between, there were some decisions by the
referees that were questioned by both players. The final few points
saw Kawy in total control, but Grinham somehow managed to pick up
winner after winner, but eventually luck ran out for the Aussie,
when a mishit from her came straight back to herself to give Kawy a
stroke, and place in tomorrow semis.
Pilley taller.....and better today
Cameron Pilley started off the day with an upset of second seed
Mohamed El Shorbagy in three convincing games. With Pilley playing a
very disciplined game, Shorbagy was not able to play his usual shots
as much as he’d like to. The Aussie was hitting very consistent
lengths and covered the court well to pick up nearly everything
thrown at him. 190+ centimetres was put to its full use. The
Egyptian never looked comfortable in the first two games and the
taller of the pair won both to 6.
Pilley continued his momentum to take a 9-3 lead. Some loss of
concentration, perhaps sensing victory, allowed a vengeful comeback
by the youngster who drew level to 9-9. The next rally saw Pilley
being sent to all corners by the crafty Shorbagy. A flick to the
backhand corner at the back sent Pilley diving, who somehow manages
to just about retrieve with a boast. Shorbagy drops and Pilley comes
in lightning speed and hits a crosscourt beyond the reach of the
Egyptian to get to match ball. It was quickly cancelled out with a
backhand crosscourt nick off the serve. Pilley gets another match
ball off a forehand winner which was cancelled out in similar
fashion – off a crosscourt nick. A stroke in favour of Pilley
followed and this time, he converts.
End of local interest for the men
Azlan Iskandar and Ong Beng Hee both crashed out of the tournament
to deserving conquerors. The nation’s top player Azlan Iskandar,
playing in his first PSA event since his stint with the Army
reserves was ousted by an on form Aamir Atlas Khan. Iskandar
struggled with his lengths in the start of the first. By the time he
found his momentum, it was a little too late as Khan went on to win
the game to 5. Iskandar came back strongly in the next game, quickly
racing to an 8-1 lead. He followed this with a string of unforced
errors to allow Khan 4 quick points. At 9-5, Khan called his own
pickup not good and faced game ball. More mistakes from the
Malaysian and it was all level in no time. He recomposed himself and
finds the nick next to game ball and then closed it out.
With Iskandar having found his rhythm now and Khan playing well, it
was now a good matchup. The Pakistani took an early lead in the
fourth to 7-3, but the Malaysian, cheered on by a loud crowd,
climbed back to 6-8. Khan responded with two consecutive beautiful
forehand crosscourt nicks off the serve, much to the Malaysian’s
frustration. A long rally followed which ended in the front right
corner after both players traded drops with the Malaysian coming out
tops. This was followed by a stroke in the front and Iskandar was
within a point of forcing the tie break. The next four rallies were
long and all ended up with lets, the last one which looked a stroke.
Iskandar had the opportunity in the next rally, but instead tinned
The fourth was practically given away – an ace to start off after
Iskandar missed a tight serve and seven tins. That leaves Khan only
3 points to win, which he did, the last one where he displayed
amazing retrieving skills and anticipation. Iskandar was not his
usual self today, but all credit to Khan who covered the court very
well, was able to read Iskandar’s game and most of all, his honesty
with his own bad pickups a few times in the match.
Top seed Gregory Gaultier
ended Malaysian interest in the men’s
event when he beat a spirited Ong Beng Hee in straight games. The
first saw both players start off in blistering pace, both hitting
the ball hard and using the court very well. It was the Malaysian
who was in front most of the time. Two consecutive strokes were
split between the pair to bring the score to 8-6 in the Malaysian’s
favour, before Gaultier rallied his way to draw level. Ong won the
next rally to be in front again, which was cancelled out
immediately. Though the Malaysian tried very hard, it was Gaultier
who closed out on his second game ball, both of which were won
The Frenchman opened the second with a huge 7-0 lead. Beng Hee was
always on the receiving end of the rallies, of which some were long.
There were a few lets in between the points and at 7-0, Gaultier was
unhappy with a call and questioned the referees. This disturbed his
concentration and he mishit a simple volley next. He drops just
another point to take a 2-0 lead.
Gaultier continued on from the second game, taking the first 3
points very quickly before Ong slams the next serve into the nick
for his first point. The Malaysian manages to come back to 4-5 but
Gaultier then recomposed and played more patiently, to take the lead
again to 9-4. Ong climbed back to 7-9 but that was all he could
manage, and the former world number one finished off with a backhand
volley into the nick.
Easy for Clyne
In the match between qualifiers, Alan Clyne came out victorious with
an easy 39-minute win over Karim Abdel Gawad. The first started off
with some cautious rallies from both. It was quite evident that the
Egyptian was struggling to get used to the unorthodox style of the
Scot. It was all level at 6-all before Clyne reeled off the next 5
points to take the lead. The second was similar, close in the
beginning and Clyne reeling off 4 consecutive points in the end to
win the game.
Gawad was getting slower by the points. The 238 minutes of match
time to his credit in the previous three days was taking its toll.
He practically gave away the third and was unable to bring himself
to move to the front of the court anymore.
As I look at the updated women’s draw printout, I can’t help but
notice that there could’ve possibly been (however slightly one might
argue) up to four Asian quarter finalists. Now that would’ve been
quite a statement for an event of this stature.
First on court for the day was second seed Jenny Duncalf and
uprising Malaysian Low Wee Wern, who reached a career high
ranking of 13 in the first quarter of the year.
Duncalf took the first game rather comfortably 11-6. But in the next
2 games, the 21 year old Wee Wern matched Duncalf shot for shot but
in the end, it was the more experienced world number two who played
the final crucial points better to close both games out and the
match in just under 40 minutes.
Nevertheless, it was a good performance by Wee Wern, who two weeks
ago was upset in the Malaysian Nationals semi finals.
Pallikal stretches Brown all the way
Two courts away, another young Asian, Dipika Pallikal of
India was battling it out against Aussie Kasey Brown.
Pallikal started off very strongly, placing the ball in all corners
and had Brown doing a lot of work moving around. Brown came back
strongly to take the next, dropping just four points. The next two
games were evenly contested and split one each, before Kasey raced
through the final game.
King stuns Perry
New Zealand’s Joelle King provided the only upset of the day
in the women’s event when she ousted fourth seed Madeline Perry
in straight games.
It was certainly not what Perry had expected, whose last trip to
Kuala Lumpur in March saw her reach the final of the KL Open.
The first game was close, with only two points separating the pair
in the end. But the lanky Kiwi lass was in total control in the next
two games and completed the upset in just 40 minutes.
* It was certainly a delight for Ross Stokes (NZ-er working in
Singapore on business trip to KL), whom I met and gave a lift later.
It was Ross’ first time seeing Joelle play since she was 15 back in
the local club!
Serme squeezes through
While Camille Serme may be the seeded player in this
encounter, Raneem El Weleily is just a rung below in the
WISPA rankings (now that Atkinson is retired), so it really didn’t
This, they certainly showed in this lengthy 66-minute gruelling
encounter. Serme won games 1, 3 and 5, while the Egyptian took the
other 2. The scores of each game were either to 8 or 9, that’s how
close it was.
While there was quite a bit of work for the referees tonight, this
is probably the cleanest match of the evening with both players
really going for the ball each time.
* If there was a best dressed for the day award, the French lass
would bag this hands down, as she looked very fitting to be on the
Wimbledon grass of SW19.
Grinham powers through,
but not without a fight
35 minutes in a four game match would probably sum up how short and
fast the rallies were in this match between Rachael Grinham
and Hong Kong’s first top-10 women’s player, Annie Au.
Both players have similar games in many ways and like to take the
ball early. There was plenty of volleying between the pair to the
front corners, and Grinham’s deceptive flicks made Au work very
hard. In the end, it was the more experienced Aussie who got
Arnold fails to close out
Delia Arnold, fresh from a very successful Malaysian
Nationals, continued her good form today against Egypt’s Omneya
Watched on by father, sister and a very passionate local crowd, the
Malaysian number three sneaked through the first two games.
In the third, it was point to point all the way. Towards the end of
this game, there were many questionable decisions, many against Kawy,
who seem to have run out of steam and was fishing for strokes.
Arnold had match ball at 11-10, but tinned two consecutive shots.
In the fourth, she took a healthy 9-3 lead before Kawy clawed back
to 9-6. A few more simple mistakes saw Kawy draw level before
forcing a decider.
In the fifth, it was one way traffic for the Egyptian. Arnold, who
was clearly dejected, would’ve had her biggest scalp in her career,
had she managed to close this out.
David and Massaro eases through
In the last two matches in the ladies, local darling Nicol David
eased past Donna Urquhart in straight games.
David was never threatened by her Aussie opponent in this 31-minute
match. As it always is, once David gets her momentum, it is very
difficult to break her rhythm.
David faces England’s Laura Massaro, who had a slightly
lengthier workout against fellow countrywoman Sarah Kippax. The
former won in a much closely contested three games. While the score
might be close, it was always Massaro who was in more control in the
Shorbagy and Pilley advance
Former world junior champion Mohamed El Shorbagy and
Australian Cameron Pilley both won in straight games today.
With a combined height of 3.7 metres, it could potentially be a very
interesting quarter final tomorrow.
Lanky Egyptian Mohamed El Shorbagy, champion of the last tournament
here in KL, was in full control in his match against Aaron Frankcomb.
He opened up huge leads in the first two games, but still had to
work pretty hard for the points.
In the second game, there was a dispute to a call by Frankcomb,
prompting him to come out of the court to voice his displeasure,
earning himself a conduct warning. Once back in court, the
discussion continued, now between the players and the Egyptian too
got a conduct warning this time. In the third, Shorbagy got a little
impatient, tinning some returns of serve. He managed to recompose to
close out eventually.
Cameron Pilley, who last year was upset in the first round as a
second seed, made sure history did not repeat this time. The tall
Aussie played a very disciplined game to defeat last year’s finalist
Tarek Momen of Egypt. Though it was a straight games victory, it
took Pilley 65 minutes. Momen, best remembered for his unorthodox
swings and boasts, found the reach and pickup of Pilley too much to
handle in the end.
Top two local men through
top two men’s players both advanced to the quarter finals with
convincing wins over their lower ranked opponents. However,
qualifier Nafiizwan Adnan was given a squash lesson by former
world number one Gregory Gaultier.
National champion Azlan Iskandar defeated local wildcard
Kamran Khan, in a repeat of the Malaysian Nationals semi finals.
While Iskandar won that encounter very comfortably, he had to work
slightly harder today. The younger of the pair, Khan was unable to
do much in the first as Iskandar dominated with precise lengths and
pace. However, in the next game, Khan seem to have settled more and
was matching the pace. Play was at a very fast pace with some great
pickups by both players, delighting a pretty packed audience.
Iskandar played the more important points better to grab the second
and it was pretty much the same story in the third.
Ong Beng Hee had a shorter match, ousting Ryan Cuskelly
of Australia in just 31 minutes. The former world junior champion
was never really troubled apart from a spell of points late in the
second game by the Australian.
Ong plays top seed Gregory Gaultier tomorrow, who had an easy time
against Asian champion Nafiizwan Adnan. The Frenchman’s depth and
precision was too much to handle for the young Malaysian. Though
totally outplayed, the ever hardworking Adnan gave his all and
chased everything thrown to him.
Khan and Gawad win 5-game thrillers
There were three 5-game matches today, with 2 of them being won by
qualifiers who would face each other tomorrow. The other was the
match between Aamir Atlas Khan, the top ranked Pakistani who
was recently dropped from the national team, against Englishman
Chris Ryder. With 10 places separating them in the PSA ranking,
it was the higher ranked Khan who was victorious in the end.
Egyptian qualifier Karim Abdel Gawad won the longest match of
the day, beating Farhan Mehboob in 100 minutes. The Pakistani drew
first blood with a closely contested first game, winning 11-9. The
next two went to the Egyptian, with the third going the distance up
to 18-16. The last 2 games were split one each with the identical
score of 11-9. Both players loved to play the front corners and
there was too much interference from both players.
Clyne has the biggest
Match of the day for me has to be the upset of Hisham Ashour
by Scotland’s Alan Clyne.
Both players have very contrasting styles, with Ashour being a
“typical” Egyptian shotmaker while Clyne plays a more traditional
game in a rather unorthodox way.
There were many times throughout the match where Ashour had hit a
winner, but somehow the Scot manages to get there. The match had a
splendid moment in the end, where at 12-13 down,
Ashour hit a crosscourt forehand into the nick from the back of the
court, after a long punishing rally. Clyne however, responded with a
similar shot in the next to hold match ball once again. This time,
he finished it to book his place against another Egyptian tomorrow.