Aifa stuns third seed Yathreb to storm into M'sian Open q-finals

24/11/2021 09:46 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24  -- National player Aifa Azman was in her element again as she stunned third seed Yathreb Adel 11-3, 9-11, 8-11, 11-4, 11-7 to cruise into the quarter-finals of the 2021 Malaysian Open squash championships today.

The 19-year-old Kedahan, who is competing on a wildcard ticket, deserves credit for staging a fightback against the world number 31 Egyptian in an intense 47-minute battle in the second round at the National Squash Centre,  Bukit Jalil here.

It was the world number 69 Aifa’s second upset in the tournament, having eliminated another Egyptian Mayar Hany 11-8, 11-5, 11-3 in the opening round yesterday.

Her reward for ousting two Egyptians in two days is - facing another Egyptian in the last eight. This time Aifa can expect another uphill task as she will be up against world number 35 Hana Ramadan, who ousted world number 18 Emily Whitlock of Wales 11-7, 11-0, 11-7 in today’s second round.

“After winning the first game, I thought I was going to win 3-0, but she (Yathreb) quickly changed her game and I went one down. So, I switched tactics in the fourth game.

“I am happy with my performance. Having beaten two higher ranked players, I’m looking forward to facing Hana. I see that her game has improved a lot. I think tomorrow is going to be very tough. I need to come up with a good game plan,” said Aifa.

Reigning champion Rachel Arnold, meanwhile, checked into the last eight in style by upsetting seventh seed Donna Lobban of Australia 11-9, 12-10, 11-4.

The 25-year-old Rachel also faces an acid test tomorrow, after being drawn to face top seed and world number one Salma Hany of Egypt in the hunt for a place in the semi-finals.

In the men’s category, defending champion Ng Eain Yow stormed into the quarter-finals after defeating compatriot Ivan Yuen 11-6, 9-11, 11-6, 11-1 in 53 minutes.

“I think confidence-wise I was struggling… knowing Ivan, the kind of squash he plays and his capabilities, I was nervous. I started off great but then, in the second game, Ivan did very well to hang in there and win it.

“I just told myself to stay confident, trust my game and my physicality. In the end, it paid off. Now, after clearing the first game, I'm feeling confident again. I hope to get the home crowd's backing as I continue my bid to challenge for the title,” said Eain Yow.

In tomorrow's quarter-finals, the third-seeded  Eain Yow, who received first-round bye, will be up against Swiss Nicolas Mueller, who beat Pakistan's Tayyab Aslam 11-7, 11-7, 11-7 today.

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