Low Wee Wern beats third Egyptian in a row to make Macau final
By ALEX WAN – Squash Mad Asian Bureau Editor
The semi-final matches at the Tap Seac Square had to be cut short after heavy rain interrupted play halfway through the second game of the men’s first semi-final. Then, third seed Omar Mosaad was leading Greg Lobban by a game and 4-2 in the second. After several attempts by the helpers to dry the floor, it became one too many times and match referee Anthony Soh decided that it should be continued back at the Macau Bowling Centre.
Malaysian comeback queen Low Wee Wern’s dream run at her maiden Macau Open continued today as she overcame a first game deficit to beat a third Egyptian in a row. Having taken out second seed Salma Hany in the second round, then Nadine Shahin in the quarters yesterday, Low beat a third Egyptian Zeina Mickawy in four games today.
Low, who has mostly been playing in 5k and 10k events since she came back on tour after a 20-month injury layoff to rehabilitate her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), bettered her milestone once again by making the final. The Malaysian had twice changed her flight and will be forced to do so once again tonight.
Despite falling behind after losing out a very close first game that went to the tie-break, Low stuck to her game plan of keeping the ball behind Mickawy, who can be very dangerous with her hard-hitting. Her strategy paid off as Mickawy became more and more impatient and often tried to force a winning shot out of a less-than-ideal situation, that more often went into the tin.
“I think (today) I played one of my best this week, so far. I was a lot calmer on court. Even though I lost the crucial first game, I was actually quite calm. I was finding my length and the corners pretty well today. It’s a good improvement for me to get better day by day.
“For me to get into the final of a 50k is a great achievement. I’ve had to change my flight a couple of times because I didn’t know if I was up to making this far. Now, I’m slowly getting my confidence back, which is a good start to the year for me,” said Low.
In the other women’s semi-final, Annie Au and Joshna Chinappa, the first and third seeds of the event, played their 20th competitive match, with the first dating back to 2005 at the Asian Junior Championship. With Au holding an 11-8 record from their 19 matches and winning their last two encounters last year, she had to be the favourite today.
Having played back-to-back five setters the last two days, Annie Au was clinical this evening. Perhaps it was also because she is more familiar with Chinappa’s game after all these years. Au was always ahead of the Indian in the first two games and closed them both out effectively.
However, in the third, things became less comfortable. After opening up a 6-2 lead, Au allowed Chinappa to claw back at 6-6 and twice lead 8-7 and 9-8. But she managed to contain that and eventually sneak the third on the tie-break for a straight-games victory.
“I knew it was going to be a hard match today. Joshna and I practice a lot together on tour, so we are very familiar with each other’s game. Moreover, we also play against each other a lot in Asian continent events. So I knew it was a tough one.
“Luckily, I managed to play according to my game plan today – to keep the ball at the back and only bring to the front when the opportunity arises. Today I also feel I have a much better plan setup compared to the previous days. I feel I also moved a lot more effectively today.”
“Overall, I thought I was calmer today. Maybe the hard matches the last two days helped me get to this state. It’s like I’ve had two tough lessons and I do not want to get that close today,” Au said cheekily when asked if today was her easier game, compared to the score-lines of the previous days.
Over at the men’s, both the semi-final matches were pure entertaining stuff for the crowd. Despite having to move back to the Macau Bowling Centre halfway through the first Mosaad-Lobban match, that did not hamper the spirit of both the crowd and players.
Omar Mosaad has been hitting so cleanly all week and he continued to do so tonight as he halted the giant-killing run of Scotland’s Greg Lobban in four games. After taking the opener on the all-glass court, which Lobban clearly wasn’t as comfortable on, and six points into the next, play was halted and moved.
After the restart, it was Lobban who started off stronger and moved more comfortably. Mosaad seemed distracted and began to question the referee more than his usual self. Perhaps that cost him the third game. But being the professional that he is, he managed to regroup and refocus in the third to get the job done. While there were calls he wasn’t happy about, he seemed to be more accepting and moved on much easily. He was rewarded with the third game and took the lead once again.
In the fourth, it was nearly point-for-point and Lobban had an opportunity to force a fifth when he had game ball at 10-8. He didn’t manage to convert the two game balls and even had a third at 11-10. That too, was saved and it was Mosaad’s turn to have a shot at 12-11. Mosaad had an even bigger chance when Lobban’s return of serve snapped the strings of his racket and he played the entire rally with broken strings that ended with a let. However, that proved useless as Mosaad slotted a forehand volley drop into the nick and raised both his arms in victory and claim his place in his fourth Macau Open final.
“This is a special event for me. I’ve reached the final here for the fourth time today. The change of court halfway back here was a little tricky for me. There was nearly an hour delay before we restarted. I actually started back really well, but then Greg started to play even better. The third was important for me to get the lead again. Then in the fourth, it was pretty much point-for-point.
“I’m going to give my best tomorrow. As I’ve told you before, I take it match by match and I have gotten over three. So tomorrow will be one final match before I head to El Gouna, and I will put in everything I have,” the Hammer of Thor said afterwards.
While Mosaad has plenty of experience here in Macau, his opponent tomorrow will be a first-time finalist here. Top seed Diego Elias edged out defending champion Yip Tsz Fung is a match that truly showcased both their amazing skills. The pair, who both play a very similar game of calculated lengths and deft drops, entertained the crowd for a full 53 minutes.
After losing out closely 11-9 in the first, Yip had his chance to equal at 10-8 up in the second, but he just couldn’t close it. Given the final result of the match, this might be something that will haunt him for a while. He did manage to come back to take the third, but Elias stamped his mark to close out the fourth and book his place in the final.
“I’m feeling really good and I think I played well. Yip is a really tough player who loves to play the ball to the front. He has very good hands and I had to work a lot today. I had to run a lot more today than the previous days,” the Peruvian Puma said after.
RESULTS (SEMI FINALS)
Annie Au (HKG) bt Joshna Chinappa (IND) 11-8, 11-5, 12-10 (34m)
Low Wee Wern (MAS) bt Zeina Mickawy (EGY) 10-12, 11-2, 11-5, 11-6 (38m)
Diego Elias (PER) bt Yip Tsz Fung (HKG) 11-9, 13-11, 9-11, 11-7 (53m)
Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt Greg Lobban (SCO) 11-5, 10-12, 11-7, 13-11 (76m)
Pictures courtesy of Macau Squash Association