Azlan Iskandar (Mas) bt  Stewart Boswell (Aus)
13/11, 11/8, 11/4 (44m)
 Nicol David (Mas) bt  Tania Bailey (Eng)
9/4, 9/3, 9/2 (36m)
Home Double for Azlan & Nicol Alex Wan reports from KL
It was double delight for the Kuala Lumpur fans in the Curve
Shopping Mall on finals day with two home victories to savour.
Azlan proves seeding
wrong again ...
Azlan Iskandar, fresh from his first ever win against Lee
Beachill, scored his third successive upset of the tournament
when he won 3in straight against Australiaís Stewart Boswell.
Unlike yesterday, Iskandar was very much playing his game right
from the opening, no slow start today.
Bozza drew first blood as he led for most of the first game,
reaching game ball at 10-8. The determined Malaysian, spurred on
by the home crowd which more than doubled from previous days due
to the weekend, clawed back, forced the tie-break and took his
first game ball. The next two games saw Iskandar pretty much in
control as Bozza didn't seem to be hitting the ball as
accurately as he normally does.
In the end it was victory for Iskandar, much to the delight of
the home crowd. A rather sad birthday prelude for Bozza, who
turns 29 tomorrow, but a second Malaysian title for Azlan,
reclaiming the crown he won in 2004.
In a repeat of last yearís final, Nicol David beat Englandís
Tania Bailey to claim her third successive Malaysian Open title.
The pair met last year at the same stage, when Nicol needed 5
games and 83 minutes to beat the Lincolnshire lass.
This time around David was in devastating form and needed just
36 minutes to overcome Bailey. No evidence of her usual slow
start today, as she played a very confident game and was moving
very freely as she sent Bailey to literally every inch of the
Her popularity in Malaysia is something which I do not believe
you will find with any other player, as the atmosphere in the
Curve shopping mall was electric. The crowd that turned up was
certainly not let down by their local hero.
was under a lot of pressure against Lee yesterday, being two
games down. So today, I just told myself to relax and just enjoy
"Winning here at home is great and everything went my way. In
the last week, Iíve been sleeping on my own bed and eating the
foods I want, so I am a happy man."
not hitting the ball very well today. I made a good start in the
first game, but just couldnít continue doing so. Itís just not
a three month break, this is a great way to start the second
half of the year.
"I was physically very ready for today and this tournament. I
played well and my match yesterday against Rachael did not drain
me physically, though it was mentally exhausting.
"Itís really great to win at home. So many people turned up and
thatís a very good thing for squash."
played very well today. I didnít do too bad either. I hit the
balls into the corner but she just returned everything.
"The court is also very bouncy, making it harder. If the
temperature was cooler, it wouldíve been a lot easier."
The first men's semi-final at the Curve shopping mall saw home
favourite Azlan Iskandar defeat a second consecutive
higher-seeded English opponent. Having beaten defending champion
Adrian Grant yesterday he went on to take out second seed Lee
Beachill in five games.
Beachill was in complete control for two and a half games, but
at 7/4 down in the third Azlan noticeably upped the pace, and it
started to pay off.
The Malaysian clawed his way back into the match, took the third
and levelled as he took a fourth game that went point for point
all the way.
Lee took his time returning to court for the decider, but Azlan
wasted no time in racing to a 6/2 lead. A Beachill request for
an injury timeout was denied - 'no visible injury' - and Azlan
quickly wrapped up the match.
The all-Australian second semi-final didn't live up to the last
two five-game meetings between Stewart Boswell and
Cameron Pilley, as top seed Boswell eased to a straight game
win in just over half an hour.
was just a step above me today. We've played each other so many
times so I know what to expect really, and he just moves so
"I was up a couple of points in the first and at 9-all, I told
myself I had to get the next point. But unfortunately, he got
the next two.
"I came into the second thinking too much about the first, that
intensity and all. It was a good six points before I got into
Tania topples Natalie In the first women's semi
Tania Bailey inflicted Natalie Grinham's first
non-Nicol-David defeat for 32 matches, as the English number one
eased to victory in under half an hour.
Struggling with injury at the end of her marathon with Jenny
Duncalf yesterday, it became apparent that the younger Grinham
hadn't fully recovered in time for the match, and was unable to
compete at her usual level.
Sister Rachael so nearly made sure a Grinham was in the
final though, as she got off to a flyer against defending
champion Nicol David, taking the first 9/0. The home
heroine fought back to take the next two, but Rachael rose again
to force a decider. After 72 minutes Nicol kept her hat-trick
hopes alive and set up a repeat of last year's final against
played very well today. My focus was out then and there was just
nothing I could do in the first game. My focus was in and out
throughout the match, hence my game was up and down too.
"It will be tough tomorrow as Tania will definitely go all out
again. I will have to bring my game up another notch."
felt OK in there and sometimes I get a little slow, especially
when I play boring squash. In the end I did feel a little
exhausted mentally. It didn't help that a few calls were made
against me which I didn't like.
"I'm really happy with my game though and mostly, I moved well.
Generally I'm in good form and good shape. It's good to have
such a tough match like that."
feel really lost at the moment. I worked so hard for over an
hour and then to win it in three minutes in the fifth is no fun.
No one likes winning games like that.
"In the third and fourth I just ran, dived, anything and
everything I could. But I really don't feel good at all winning
today. It's really unfortunate it had to end in such a way."
lunged for a shot and while I walked back, I felt something was
wrong with my Achilles tendon. I asked the referee for three
minutes and he said I was lying, that he saw no visible injury.
"I've played squash for 20 years now and I've never lied.
Certainly, three minutes wouldn't have made much difference at
that point of the match, but a lot of things happen in the court
that the referee does not see.
"I played really well the first two games and Azlan played
terribly. Then he played really well the next two, while I
"It's difficult to lose like that when you are in so much
control in the beginning. I should have won the match 3/0
really tough to keep concentration against an injured player.
Even with one leg, Natalie is a lot faster than a lot of people,
so I had to concentrate.
"I was thinking too much yesterday and was just hitting a lot of
blanks. I'm glad I played much better today and I'm looking
forward to tomorrow. I didn't look beyond the semi finals for
this tournament, so I'm really happy.
"I reached the final here last year and that was the start of my
great season. The crowd here is good to me too."
foot is still very painful. I was trying to see if I could pull
another one like yesterday against Jenny.
"It didn't work out and I didn't want to push too hard as
there's the Singapore Masters next week. I also didn't want to
take the chance of ruining the season."
Azlan dethrones Adrian
but no joy for Bengy ... Alex Wan reports from KL
Action moved to the spectacular Curve Shopping Mall today,
with the men's quarter-finals in the afternoon, followed by the
women's matches this evening.
Beachill cruises through
Beachill opened play at the Curve against the giant-killing
teenager from Pakistan, Farhan Mehboob. However, it was a
totally different story today as another upset was never on.
The former world number one was in total control and was hardly
troubled by the left hander. There isnít much to be said in this
match, Beachill simply a few notches above the young Pakistani,
who should be proud of himself for making it this far in such a
Azlan gains his revenge
At the Malaysian Open last year, Azlan Iskandar was the top seed
and eventual champion Adrian Grant was the one who took him out
at the quarter final stage. Today, Azlan gained sweet revenge
with a solid display, winning in straight games. It may have
been 3-0 to the Malaysian, but it took almost a full hour for
him to upstage the Englishman.
Azlan and Adrian have similar games and are both extremely
physically fit. It was a delight for the crowd as they traded
blow for blow in fiery paced rallies. It was the Malaysian who
held on in all three games to win.
wasnít easy at all on there. Though it was 3-0, it took a whole
hour to break him. In the third, I made only one error, and it
was 11-9, thatís how close it was.
"I played a bit smarter today but not entirely satisfied with my
performance. At certain points, I was lazy mentally and not as
clinical as Iíd like.
"Iíve never beaten Lee before, but itíll be a good game. I know
what I need to do and Iíll try my best. Iíve pretty much got
everything planned in my head."
feel I didnít play too well today. I was a little anxious and
made too many errors.
"Azlan played very well too and he kept his nerves on the
crucial points. Itís just the few points in the end that kept us
"Iíll be training through this and aim to peak for the big four
Ė Saudi, Qatar, Hong Kong and Worlds. Iím going back after this
to carry on my training."
Cameron beats Bengy
at home again
Malaysia seems to be a good place for the lanky Cameron
Pilley as he repeated his performance last year, taking out
the higher seeded Bengy in four entertaining games.
yesterdayís indifferent performance the Malaysian performed a
lot better on the glass court. But Cameron was the star of the
day, keeping his cool throughout the match. The first two games
were close, just three points separating them.
The third saw a determined Bengy come back, much to the delight
of the home crowd. But that was shortlived in the next game, as
Cameron quickly raced to a 6-1 lead.
At this point, Bengy was a total wreck, apparently demoralised
and frustrated. A stroke decision brought the tall Aussie to
8-2, after which Bengy tried to slam Cameronís next serve into
the nick, but instead found the tin, 9-2 now. Cameron got to
match ball at 10-3, which Bengy saved but that was all he could
do as a stroke gave Cameron his path into the semis.
Easy for Bozza
Stewart Boswell eased himself into the semi finals when
he ended the gallant run of another Pakistani teenager, Yasir
Butt. The top seed was never seriously troubled, and now faces
compatriot Cameron Pilley, in a repeat of their recent
Australian Open final.
good to get through 3-0 at this stage. Iíve never played him or
seen him play really, so I had no expectations going in today.
"Iím expecting a tough match against Cameron tomorrow. He beat
me the last time we played but we always have close games. Itís
hard to judge my form really because weíve been having an
off-season and been training."
was pretty comfortable today. The perfect second round match,
nice to win it at 3-0.
"I moved well and am still getting used to the glass court. The
court is quite light and can be difficult to see at times, but I
guess everyone faces that.
"Iíd never played Farhan before and went in expecting it to be
tough. Itíll be tough tomorrow and any one of us four can win
"I was just telling Bozza that I think I can only beat Bengy in
Malaysia and nowhere else. I love playing here, the weather is
pretty much like home.
"I played a bit better than Bengy today basically, but it was
very close right to the end.
"I am happy with my game here. I am normally a slow starter but
I didnít get that yesterday and it spilled over today as well.
"If Stewart gets through this, it will be our third meeting in
the last few months. The last two went to five games with each
of us winning one."
very disappointed and what happened today is a shock to me. I
trained well for this and expected to do well, hence Iím so
"Cameron played well of course and he kept the ball real tight.
I also feel there is a certain amount of self destruction within
me. I am physically ready for the matches, but I seem to be
"Iíve played a lot of squash on court but I havenít worked on
the mental part."
Top four through
but tough for Natalie
The evening women's quarter-finals saw the top four seeds -
the top four in the world - go through, but it was easier for
some than for others ...
Match of the day -
Jenny just short
Englandís Jenny Duncalf was just a whisker away from
ousting world number two Natalie Grinham in the quarter
final stage today. Natalie couldnít have asked for a better
start to his match, two strokes taking her to a 2-0 lead in the
first game, which shestretched this lead all the way to
8-0 with some ruthless play, never allowing the English lass
into the match. Jenny finally got her first point but it wasnít
long before Natalie wrapped it up.
The next game saw a new Jenny come onto court - she finally
arrived! It was point for point and there was never more than a
solitary point separating the pair, 2-2, 3-3, 5-5. Natalie was
the first to reach game ball at 8-7, but a no let decision
forced the deuce. At 8-apiece, serve changed hands a number of
times before Natalie got two consecutive strokes to get to game
ball again. Jenny saved it, drew level and levelled the match
with a backhand drop that was too tight for Natalie.
The third saw Jenny rush to a big 5-0 lead with some accurate
play. She moved Natalie all over the court, and not many can do
that effectively to the quick Aussie. Jenny allowed just four
points and then wrapped it up to lead 2-1.
The fourth was once again close, Jenny opening up a 4-1 lead
before Natalie claw back to draw level. The English lass had two
match points at 8-6 and 8-7 but just couldnít finish it. Natalie
meanwhile took the opportunity to draw level and force the
In that decider Natalie drew first blood, taking a 1-0 lead
before serve changed hands. Jenny then wrong footed Natalie, who
overstretched her ankle and was given an injury break where she
had her ankle bandaged. At this juncture, Natalie was in pain
and went for her shots at every opportunity, a move which worked
her way as she sent a very disappointed Jenny Duncalf out of the
Tania stops Kasey
Tania Bailey stopped Australian qualifier Kasey Brown
in the quarter finals today. While the score was a
straightforward 3-0, this didnít do justice to the quality of
the match - the duration of 50 minutes speaking volumes. The
Australian in fact gave Tania quite a lot of trouble and long
quality rallies were aplenty.
Tania plays Natalie tomorrow in a repeat of last year's semi
final. The English lass won that one in five thrilling games and
might have a slight edge again this time round, given the fact
that Natalie had a much longer match and hurt herself in the
Vicky caught napping
Rachael Grinham today embarrassed a very frustrated
Vicky Botwright with her fast deceptive play. From the
start, the elder Grinham was in total control of the match,
sending Vicky scrambling all over the court.
The leggy English girl was simply never in the match and managed
a mere three points. Having earned two of those points at the
beginning of the match, she then allowed Rachael to take the
next 13 points before grabbing her third and last point, after
which the next 13 again belonged to Rachael. Game and match in
Nicol puts on a class act
The atmosphere when Nicol David is playing at home is
something you very rarely find in squash. Even at this stage and
taking into account this was a working day, the small crowd
behind her was ferocious. Still quite a long throw from the 2004
World Open when she played Natalie Grinham in the semi final
She and Omneya Abdel Kawy have long been rivals, but Nicol has
surged a level ahead. She showed this today, dropping a total of
just seven points in the entire match. Her accuracy, speed and
pace was far too much for Omneya, who had yesterday outplayed
another Malaysian, Sharon Wee.
played much better than I did today and probably deserved to win
it more than I did. Sheer luck got me through!
"I couldnít move in the fifth and I think Jenny choked a bit and
panicked there. I just went for my shots and they worked."
"I think this is the best Jenny has played in many years! Itís
always difficult playing an injured player and that fact must
have put her under a lot of pressure."
a bit surprised today with my match as she didnít seem to get
into it. I felt I played well but Vicky just didn't seem
comfortable on there and never got into it.
"Iím not too sure about my form, but Iíve been feeling good in
training and been looking forward to this tournament. Iíve come
as far as Iím seeded so thereís no pressure from here on in.
"I havenít had such great results of late, so Iím really happy
to be in the semis."
exited about this tournament. Itís the first time on this
court in this mall.
"Omneya started well but I soon got my rhythm and felt very
"Rachaelís probably playing very well now, judging from her semi
earlier and Iíd expect a tough match tomorrow."
25-Jul, Round ONE
Kasey comeback foils Madeline as Pakistani qualifiers progress Alex Wan reports from KL
would be the last day of play at the National Squash Centre,
Jalan Duta. There was a heavy thunderstorm throughout the
evening, but that didnít seem to stop a healthy turnout of local
Play tomorrow moves to the Curve shopping mall. Matches will
begin at 2pm and play is scheduled to end at 10pm, but I think
that will never happen. It will be a long day at the office, but
thatís the price we pay for trying to bring squash to the
teenagers Yasir Butt and Farhan Mehboob continued
their killing run as they took out their more established
compatriots to reach the last eight, earning quarter final
berths against the top two seeds of the tournament.
Playing in the first slot of the evening, Butt went on court
first against Asian Junior Champion Aamir Atlas Khan. The tall
Butt played a very patient game against the much smaller Khan in
a closely contested match watched by the entire Pakistani
Apart from the players and coaches, there were also the
Malaysian-based Pakistanis here, so they make quite a crowd.
Dropping the first game, Butt clawed back to take the next two
to lead. In the fourth, there were some signs of comeback from
Khan, but Butt stopped it just in time to book his place on the
glass court tomorrow.
Mehboob meanwhile ousted Mansoor Zaman, a familiar name in KL.
Prior to his professional days, he was always Bengyís main
nemesis in their junior days in the Asian region. Mehboob and
Zaman were the last to finish for the night, with the former
victorious in 36 minutes. Rallies were fast and retrieving from
both players was awesome, but it was the younger of the two who
walked out happier.
Egyptians crash out
will have no representation in tomorrowís quarter finals as all
three players crashed out today. Omar Mosaad, the tall
up-and-coming youngster, was shown the door by top seed
Stewart Boswell. Bozza, second time around to be top seeded
in KL for the year, stamped his class with a convincing 3-0 win
in exactly half an hour.
Egyptís two qualifiers both crashed out too, in rather
contrasting styles. Lee Beachill spent just 21 minutes
demolishing Sherif Kamel, simply a class above. Tarek Momen, the
baby faced teenager, meanwhile, nearly took out local favourite
Ong Beng Hee.
Momen held four match balls in the fourth game, but was unable
to convert any of them as Bengy who used his experience and
stayed calm to stay in the match. The fifth was Bengy all the
way, with the whole home crowd behind him. Do not be
deceived by the size of Momen, for he strikes the ball as hard,
if not harder, as the hardest hitters around. His best weapon is
by far, his overhead smashes, most of which land just a
centimetre above the tin! Lucky escape for Bengy, who sets up a
mouth-watering quarter final clash against Cameron Pilley,
the Australian who last year sent him packing at the same stage.
Azlan and Adrian Rematch
Adrian Grant and Azlan Iskandar eased themselves
into the quarter finals in similar fashion. Grant was too sharp
for local wild card Nafiizwan Adnan while Iskandar was too fast
and furious for Shahid Zaman. Their wins set them up for a
repeat of last yearís semi final, where Grant took out the then
top seeded Malaysian before going on to win the title.
Kasey on a roll
Brown created the only upset of the day in the womenís event
when she clawed back from a two-game deficit to edge out
Irelandís Madeline Perry in the longest match of the day Ė 87
minutes. Having dropped the first two games closely 8-10, she
won the third with a convincing 9-0 scoreline. The next two
games saw a close fight between the pair and in the end Kasey
made sure there were no Australian casualties on the day.
Nicol sole survivor
David beat one of her closest friends, Tricia Chuah in a
lop-sided affair. They were only on court for 19-minutes. They
both train together with Liz Irving and practically grew up
together on these NSC courts too.
Nicol will be the sole flag bearer of the nation from hereon, as
Sharon Wee bowed out tamely to Omneya Abdel Kawy in
straight games. Having made a great start in the first game,
where Wee climbed back from 1-6 down to draw level, a few
unforced errors gave the Egyptian her rhythm. A 12-point run saw
Kawy get to two games up and the third wasnít much of a contest.
Lim Yoke Wah, playing in her biggest tournament so far, was a
shadow against Vicky Botwright. The petite Malaysian was
no match in every department. With her lanky figure, Botwright
sent Lim to all corners of the court with relative ease and
finished in just 18 minutes.
Grinhams move on too
younger Grinham, Natalie was the first to get on the main
court and she was in devastating form today against Alison
Waters. The English lass had no answer to the speed and accuracy
of the world number two, bowing out in 22 minutes. Rachael,
meanwhile had more resistance from Egyptian Engy Kheirallah.
Engy did manage to grab the first game, but Grinham's deceptive
play was just too hot for her to handle in the next three.
pair of sisters face English opponents tomorrow, Rachael against
Botwright, and Natalie plays Jenny Duncalf, who had a
surprisingly easy match against the hard hitting Kiwi Shelley
Joining the English army tomorrow also is Tania Bailey,
who also had an easy encounter with Rebecca Chiu. Tania had a
gallant run in last yearís edition, scalping top seed Vanessa
Atkinson and Natalie Grinham en route to the final, where she
then stretched Nicol David to five games, keeping the Energizer
bunny on court for 85 minutes.
Engy Kheirallah opened play of the evening with a rather
easy win over Indiaís Joshna Chinappa. The qualifying top seed
needed just 17-minutes to wrap up the match, which saw very
short rallies and both players throw shots at each other.
Kasey Brown followed suit in similar fashion, but taking a
longer time against Hong Kongís Elise Ng. Both players play a
very conventional basic game, which explains the longer match
time. Engy plays Rachael Grinham, while Kasey faces Madeline
Yoke Wah stuns Line
Lim Yoke Wah scored a notable victory today to qualify
for the main draw, defeating Dane Line Hansen in straight games.
The lanky Dane, who won three satellite events in Kuala Lumpur
this year, was bundled out in 30 minutes by the hardworking
Malaysian. Limís win earned her a place against world number
five Vicky Botwright tomorrow.
In an all-Malaysian battle, Delia Arnold failed in her bid to
join close friend Lim in the main draw when she went down
fighting against compatriot Sharon Wee, who is ranked a
good 29 rungs above her. Their last meeting ended up in a five
game thriller and they didnít disappoint again. This time round
though, Wee dropped just a game to win her berth against Omneya
Two each for Egypt and Pakistan, bad
day for NZ
Pakistanís pair of teenagers shone in the qualifying finals
today when both Yasir Butt and Farhan Mehboob made it to
the main draw in similar fashion Ė upsetting higher ranked
opponents, winning in 4 games and taking just under 40 minutes.
Butt beat Pakistani-born New Zealander Kashif Shuja, who is
ranked a good 70 places above him, with his deceptive and
accurate style of play. The cool left handed Mehboob, meanwhile,
beat Egyptís Omar Abdel Aziz, who is ranks just 10 places above.
In the longest match of the day, Sherif Kamel edged out
Khawaja Adil Maqbool in just under an hour. In a match full of
intensity, the duo served the little crowd that had stood
outside the court some spirited display. All the games were
close and what better way to finish off a close match with a
tie-break, the Egyptian winning 4-2.
In the last match of the
evening, Egyptian teenager Tarek Momen ensured Egypt
matched Pakistanís additional representation in the main draw
when he beat Campbell Grayson of New Zealand in four
KL set for world's best After a series of Satellite and Super Satellite events over the
last three months, Kuala Lumpur's National Squash Centre is ready
for the return of the world's best.
Nicol David, who in 2005 became the first home winner in
27 years, will be seeking a hat-trick of titles and is
guaranteed fervent home support.
She is expected to resume her
rivalry in the final with Natalie Grinham, who ended the
world champion's 51-match unbeaten run in their last meeting in
Seoul, three months ago.
In the men's event Australian Open champion Stewart Boswell
is top seed, with Englishmen Lee Beachill and defending
champion Adrian Grant expected to battle it out for a
place in the final from the bottom half.
For the quarter-finals onward the
event moves to KL's Curve Shopping Mall, one of the
Malaysian capital's biggest and busiest shopping venues.
CIMB, the Kuala Lumpur headquartered bank will also be
title sponsoring the new Singapore
Masters event to be played at the Kallang Squash Centre.
"The three-month break was used to plan for the second half of the
year. I used it to analyse what else I can do to further fine-tune
"I will see how it goes during the Malaysian Open, hopefully it
all comes together.
"I did not even know how many matches I had won consecutively
until someone told me. I feel that itís not all about setting
records, itís more about training hard and hoping for a good
performance when you play against other players.
"If the unbeaten streak happens again then it will be something to
look forward to. I will be ready for anything and I will continue