Friday, March 1, 2024

Dazzling Delia Arnold beats her demons at last

Malaysian star stuns Alison Waters in KL first round shock
By ALEX WAN – Squash Mad Malaysian Correspondent

Delia Arnold gets in front of Alison Waters
SOCKS APPEAL! Delia Arnold gets in front of Alison Waters. Pictures by KNG ZHENG GUAN

Yes!!! Finally!!! That was exactly Delia Arnold’s reaction in reply to my congratulatory message over WhatsApp. The 28 year old came back from 2-1 down to claim the biggest scalp of her career by outlasting Alison Waters, the world number 6 Commonwealth Games semi-finalist, in just over an hour in the first round of the CIMB Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur.

The bubbly world number 39, who was once ranked as high as 20, had been on the losing end of her last two five setters, first to compatriot Low Wee Wern at the British Open and Nicolette Fernandes at the HKFC International, where she had taken a 2-0 lead. Today, she got it right and what better place to achieve this than on home ground.

The clearly elated Kuala Lumpur lass told Squash Mad, “Last night, I thought about those (five setter) matches. I’m glad I managed to control my thoughts and emotions today when it mattered most. I did not think about winning or losing. I just wanted to play good squash.”

MOsobterThe win sets her up against American Amanda Sobhy (right), who ended Mexican qualifier Samantha Teran’s campaign in convincing fashion.

The other big upset of the day came from the same quarter, as newly crowned world junior champion Habiba Mohamed also came back from 2-1 down to beat Camille Serme, the world number 5 and semi-finalist here last year.

Malaysia seems to be a good hunting ground for the 15 year old from Alexandria, who in November last year won her maiden WSA Tour title to become the youngest ever winner. Just a few days ago, she won the biggest accolade in junior squash and today, she has what is very likely her biggest win on the senior stage.

Commonwealth Games finalists and top two seeds Nicol David and Laura Massaro both hardly raised a sweat as they won in straight games in 16 and 25 minutes respectively.

Low Wee Wern made it three out of three wins for Malaysia today, but not before being stretched for 75 minutes over four games by the hard hitting Egyptian Heba El Torky.

Asian representation in the last 16 was further boosted with wins from Hong Kong duo Annie Au and Joey Chan, and India’s Joshana Chinappa. This adds to a total of six Asians who will feature in the next round, who will also have six former World Junior Champions, and seven including the newly crowned one.

The left-handed Joey was stretched to five by England’s Emily Whitlock, eventually winning after 70 minutes on court. True to her Chinese roots, Chan checked into the next round with an auspicious trio of 8s (which is the prosperity number for the Chinese) in the 3 games she won, where she faces third seed Raneem El Weleily, who was tested by Welsh Tesni Evans over four games.

Rachael Grinham, now in her 20th year on the tour, set up a mouthwatering clash against eighth seed Madeline Perry. The pair, both 37, took an identical 27 minutes to see off their opponents, Ireland’s Aisling Blake and Scottish-born Lisa Aitken. With a combined age of 74, this could possibly be the “oldest” matchup in WSA history.


In the men’s qualifying finals, all attention was on local boy Azlan Iskandar, the former world number ten.

Despite having been retired since 2012, many had commented he did not show any signs of it, as he checked into the main draw with a convincing 33-minute win over Shaun Le Roux of South Africa.

In the first round, Azlan (right) will be playing fellow countryman Nafiizwan Adnan, thanks to SquashMad’s guest photo contributor Kng Zheng Guan, who did the honours of pulling his name out of the hat.

The duo, who are good friends off-court, will no doubt, not be holding back any punches tomorrow.

Lucas Serme will keep the family name flying tomorrow, having upset Mexican Alfredo Avila, ranked 18 places above him, in just under an hour. Serme will play 2012 winner Tarek Momen tomorrow.

There was no further joy for the locals in the main draw. Addeen Idrakie fell to Australia’s Rex Hendrick in straight games and there was certainly no “Blaze Of Glory” for the Valentino Bon Jovi Bong, who was stopped by Indian Mahesh Mangaonkar in 60 minutes. The Aussie will face off with Max Lee in the main draw while the Indian takes on local hero Ong Beng Hee.

After tomorrow’s round of 16 matches, play will move to the Nu Sentral Mall, located in KL Sentral, the transportation hub of Kuala Lumpur. This will be the second public venue to host the Malaysian Open, which has made The Curve shopping centre its home since 2007.

RESULTS: Women’s CIMB Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia:

1st round:
[1] Nicol David (MAS) bt [Q] Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) 11-3, 11-2, 11-3 (16m)
[14] Joshana Chinappa (IND) bt Line Hansen (DEN) 11-8, 8-11, 11-7, 11-9 (50m)
[9] Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) bt [Q] Deon Saffery (WAL) 12-10, 11-3, 11-6 (21m)
[7] Annie Au (HKG) bt Victoria Lust (ENG) 9-11, 11-3, 11-6, 11-6 (35m)
[3] Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt Tesni Evans (WAL) 11-8, 11-6, 3-11, 11-5 (40m)
[15] Joey Chan (HKG) bt Emily Whitlock (ENG) 8-11, 11-4, 9-11, 11-5, 11-8 (70m)
[13] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt Nouran Gohar (EGY) 11-9, 11-6, 11-8 (30m)
[6] Low Wee Wern (MAS) bt Heba El Torky (EGY) 11-8, 11-5, 10-12, 11-8 (74m)
Delia Arnold (MAS) bt [5] Alison Waters (ENG) 7-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-7, 11-9 (69m)
[10] Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt [Q] Samantha Teran (MEX) 11-7, 11-1, 11-6 (28m)
[11] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) bt [Q] Tong Tsz-Wing (HKG) 11-6, 11-6, 11-6 (22m)
[Q] Habiba Mohamed Ahmed (EGY) bt [4] Camille Serme (FRA) 11-6, 6-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-8 (73m)
[8] Madeline Perry (IRL) bt Aisling Blake (IRL) 11-3, 11-6, 11-3 (27m)
[12] Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt [Q] Lisa Aitken (ENG) 11-6, 11-6, 11-9 (27m)
[16] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt [Q] Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) 11-8, 11-3, 11-9 (25m)
[2] Laura Massaro (ENG) bt [Q] Latasha Khan (USA) 11-6, 11-2, 11-4 (23m)


Pictures by KNG ZHENG GUAN


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