KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 25 -- National teen sensation Aifa Azman shed tears of joy after defeating her third straight Egyptian opponent to storm into the semi-finals of the Malaysian Open squash championships at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil here, today.
The 19-year-old rose sensationally to the challenge to claim a highly impressive 11-9, 11-9, 11-5 win over Egypt’s world number 35 Hana Ramadan in the quarter-finals.
World number 69 Aifa had earlier disposed of two other Egyptians - world number 47 Mayar Hany and world number 31 Yathreb Adel - in the first and second rounds respectively.
The Kedahan can certainly stand tall, having exceeded expectations by reaching her first-ever Professional Squash Association (PSA) World Tour Bronze event semi-finals.
“I’m very happy to have won 3-0 because I had a tough game yesterday (against Yathreb). So, it’s really nice to come through and win in three … (it) is a good result. I was probably a little nervous in the second round but after beating Yathreb, who is the third seed, I was definitely a lot more relaxed today.
"I think I cried a little because I was just happy to go through to my first Bronze event semi-finals. Now, I’m focused on getting a good recovery session before the semi-finals,” she said in a statement.
Aifa is set to take on world number 19 Danielle Letourneau for a place in the final after the Canadian took out world number 14 and second seed Nadine Shahin of Egypt 11-4, 9-11, 11-7, 11-8 in the other quarter-final.
However, hopes of a second Malaysian semi-finalist were dashed when defending champion Rachel Arnold lost a nail-biting five-setter 3-11, 11-8, 11-6, 6-11, 6-11 in 44 minutes to top seed and world number eight Salma Hany of Egypt.
Salma will square off against Canada’s fourth-seeded Holly Naughton in the semi-finals. Naughton downed Hong Kong’s Tze Lok Ho 11-8, 13-11, 11-13, 11-5 in the other quarter-final clash.
In the men’s category, defending champion Ng Eain Yow kept up his impressive home record to blitz into the semi-finals after defeating Nicolas Mueller of Switzerland 11-6, 11-5, 11-5.
“I thought it was a good performance because I played Mueller in the final here two years ago, so to win 3-0 today is a really good result for me. I thought maybe he was not at 100 per cent but I kept my focus and my plan was always to keep the intensity high and to keep pushing him around the court.
“I’m definitely feeling very good in this tournament and I’m here to win it. So, I’m ready to do whatever it takes,” said Eain Yow, whose semi-final opponent will be Colombian top seed Miguel Rodriguez, who eased past Shahjahan Khan of the United States 11-1, 11-9, 11-1 in the other quarter-final tie.
The other semi-final will see French fifth seed Victor Crouin take on India’s second-seeded Saurav Ghosal.
Earlier in the quarter-finals, Crouin downed Hong Kong’s Yip Tsz Fung 11-6, 11-8, 11-7 while Saurav defeated French eighth seed Lucas Serme 1-7, 11-6, 11-6.
The Malaysian Open offers total prize money of US$50,000 (RM209,000) for both the men’s and women’s categories.