Saturday, June 22, 2024

At 14, and without a ranking, Aira grabs a second scalp in Malaysian Open

Aira Azman (left) battles to another massive victory in the Malaysian Open

Carlos Cornes takes out top seed Max Lee
By ZHENG GUAN KNG – Squash Mad Correspondent

KUALA LUMPUR – The big guns came out to play but it was teenager Aira Azman who completely stole the show on the second day of the Malaysian Open squash championships.

The 14-year-old, without even a PSA world ranking, was a late entrant to the tournament. But she’s certainly making the most out of it after producing yet another outstanding performance to beat world No. 51 Lee Ka Yi of Hong Kong in the second round at the National Squash Centre, Bukit Jalil on Thursday.

Aira, who turns 15 on Sunday, was really cool and calm beyond her tender years as she bounced back from an opening game loss to complete a 13-15, 11-9, 11-9, 11-9 turnaround against world No. 51 Ka Yi.

It’s her second big upset after she had packed off world No. 71 Tessa ter Sluis of Holland in the first round on Wednesday.

“It’s really an unexpected outcome for me. I wasn’t even supposed to play in this tournament but I got a late call-up,” said Aira. “Today I was really just trying to play my best against a senior player. I know that if I want to progress then I just have to go all out.

“I’m really delighted to make it into the quarter-finals. And it’s double the joy since I turn 15 in three more days,” added Aira.

The Kedahan goes on to meet fourth seed Vanessa Chu of Hong Kong in the last eight. World No. 49 Vanessa was convincing in beating Lai Wen Li 11-9, 11-5, 11-7.

There was no joy for sister Aifa, however. The 17-year-old saw her 10-match winning streak on the PSA Tour cut short as she lost to compatriot and defending champion Low Wee Wern.

Former world No. 5 Wee Wern, who is seeded second, made the best of her experience as she claimed an 11-6, 11-6, 12-10 win.

“I’m pleased with this win because Aifa was coming back very strong in the third so I’m happy to close it out in three,” said Wee Wern.

“She’s been in top form and in confidence while I lost a couple of matches here and there so it was really a balance for me to use as much experience I had over her to win.”
The Penangite goes on to meet seventh seed Menna Hamed of Egypt, who edged past Chan Yiwen 14-12, 11-6, 12-10.

“It was quite a big battle. She was up in the first game and I had to stay calm because I know winning the first is always important,” said Menna.

“I was better in the second but the third was really too close as she went 10-8 and I’m glad to get through in the end.”

Also through with an upset is world No. 86 Ooi Kah Yan who showed great resolve as she came from two games down to knock out sixth seed Anna Serme of Czech Republic.

The pint-sized Kah Yan saved match balls in the third and fourth games before coolly holding her nerves to seal an 8-11, 10-12, 14-12, 12-10, 12-10 win in 53 minutes.

The was nearly a major upset but two-time world junior champion and top seed Rowan Elaraby of Egypt survived a fierce challenge against compatriot Hana Ramadan for an 8-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-2, 11-4 win.

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In the men’s competition, Spanish pair Edmon Lopez and Carlos Cornes stunned the field to gatecrash into the last eight.

World No. 59 Lopez was on song as he defeated eighth seed Karim El Hammamy of Egypt 11-5, 11-9, 5-11, 11-8.

“It’s a good win for me. I played well, played solid against Karim whom I’ve never beaten before so I’m happy with my performance,” said Lopez who meets another Egyptian in third seed Youssef Soliman next.

World No. 80 Cornes on the other hand delivered a huge upset by taking down top seed and world No. 26 Max Lee of Hong Kong 11-3, 8-11, 11-7, 11-9.

“It’s massive for me. I know that on the day rankings don’t matter and it’s just who’s hungrier to win. I was really hungry to win today and I’ll be hungrier tomorrow,” said Cornes.

The Spaniard goes to meet Portugal’s Rui Soares, who also scored an upset by knocking out seventh seed Mahesh Mangaonkar of India 11-13, 11-9, 1-11, 11-5, 11-7. It was an astonishing scoreline, with Mangaonkar dominating the third game but then unable to repeat that form as Soares regrouped.

The Malaysian challenge, meanwhile, will be carried out by Ng Eain Yow and Ivan Yuen, with the pair both notching convincing victories.

Fourth seed Eain Yow was too good for Hong Kong’s Henry Leung as he strolled to an 11-2, 11-5, 11-2 win.

Fifth seed Ivan on the other hand was purely business as he dispatched surprise package Ong Sai Hung 11-3, 11-7, 11-2.

Eain Yow goes on to meet Pakistan’s Tayyab Aslam, who knocked out Syafiq Kamal, while Yuen will have a daunting task against second seed Nicolas Mueller of Switzerland

Malaysian Open 2019, Bukit Jalil National Squash Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Men’s $30k Second Round:
[9/16] Carlos Cornes (ESP) bt [1] Max Lee (HKG) 11-6, 8-11, 11-7, 11-9 (40m)
Rui Soares (POR) bt [7] Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) 11-13, 11-9, 1-11, 11-5, 11-7 (61m)
[6] Tayyab Aslam (PAK) bt Mohd Syafiq Kamal (MAS) 11-4, 20-18, 7-11, 11-8 (61m)
[4] Eain Yow Ng (MAS) bt [9/16] Henry Leung (HKG) 11-2, 11-5, 11-2 (30m)
[3] Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt [9/16] Baptiste Masotti (FRA) 13-11, 11-7, 11-3 (43m)
[9/16] Edmon Lopez (ESP) bt [8] Karim El Hammamy (EGY) 11-5, 11-9, 5-11, 11-8 (53m)
[5] Ivan Yuen (MAS) bt [WC] Ong Sai Hung (MAS) 11-3, 11-7, 11-2 (22m)
[2] Nicolas Müller (SUI) bt Lau Tsz Kwan (HKG) 11-5, 11-13, 11-6, 6-11, 11-4 (48m)

Quarter Finals:
[9/16] Carlos Cornes (ESP) v Rui Soares (POR)
[4] Eain Yow Ng (MAS) v [6] Tayyab Aslam (PAK)
[3] Youssef Soliman (EGY) v [9/16] Edmon Lopez (ESP)
[2] Nicolas Müller (SUI) v [5] Ivan Yuen (MAS)

Women’s $20k Second Round:
[1] Rowan Elaraby (EGY) bt [9/16] Hana Ramadan (EGY) 8-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-2, 11-4 (47m)
[8] Sabrina Sobhy (USA) bt [9/16] Farah Momen (EGY) 11-3, 11-5, 13-11 (26m)
[9/16] Ooi Kah Yan (MAS) bt [6] Anna Serme (CZE) 8-11, 10-12, 14-12, 12-10, 12-10 (53m)
[3] Rachel Arnold (MAS) bt Tanvi Khanna (IND) 11-6, 11-4, 11-6 (24m)
[4] Vanessa Chu (HKG) bt [9/16] Lai Wen Li (MAS) 11-9, 11-5, 11-7 (25m)
Aira Azman (MAS) bt [5] Lee Ka Yi (HKG) 13-15, 11-9, 11-9, 11-9 (43m)
[7] Menna Hamed (EGY) bt [WC] Chan Yiwen (MAS) 14-12, 11-6, 12-10 (34m)
[2] Low Wee Wern (MAS) bt [WC] Aifa Azman (MAS) 11-6, 11-6, 12-10 (33m)

Quarter Finals:
[1] Rowan Elaraby (EGY) v [8] Sabrina Sobhy (USA)
[3] Rachel Arnold (MAS) v [9/16] Ooi Kah Yan (MAS)
[4] Vanessa Chu (HKG) v Aira Azman (MAS)
[2] Low Wee Wern (MAS) v [7] Menna Hamed (EGY)


Pictures courtesy of ZHENG GUAN KNG


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