Delia “Pink Socks” Arnold and Nafiizwan “Komodo” Adnan retain titles in Malaysia and Misaki Kobayashi survives thriller in Japan
By Alex Wan – Squash Mad Asian Bureau Editor
Delia Arnold and Nafiizwan Adnan both claimed their second Malaysian national title earlier today after seeing off spirited challenges from Low Wee Wern and Ivan Yuen respectively.
Delia wins a match marred by too many decisions
Just a day earlier, defending champion Delia was not playing at her best and was fully tested by the bright 16-year old Sivasangari Subramaniam, who stretched their semi-final tie to five games before the more experienced Delia came out triumphant.
While Delia had a tough time, Low Wee Wern made easy work of Rachel Arnold, the younger of the Arnold siblings and won for the loss of just 11 points in straight games.
In the final today, both ladies started off cautiously at a leisurely pace and things were point for point. Delia was by far the more innovative and aggressive one, often trying for winners. In the end, Delia took the last few important points for an important lead.
The second was truly a game to forget as there were far too many decisions, which the referee did not take control of. While Delia may not be the best in clearing the path ball, Wee Wern was equally at fault for not playing through minor interferences, to which the referee did not make it clear to both players of their antics. The decisions seem to have affected Wee Wern more as Delia raced to a 7-0 lead and dropped just 2 points after that to lead 2-0.
The traffic problems continued in the third and it was Delia’s attacking play that was rewarded as she surged to a 6-2 lead. A loss of concentration saw Wee Wern come back to draw level at 6-a piece. The rallies after this point were once again full of traffic problems and in the end, the championship point was clinched on a no let decision, to the disbelief of Wee Wern.
The fact that this is a 3-0 match with the second game being 11-2, 54 minutes is a clear indication of how many points were replayed.
“I’m happy to have defended my title. I expected a very tough fight from Wee Wern, and I am happy to have won in straight games. The last time I played her was in the final here a year ago and back then, she was still recovering from her injury,” said a relieved Delia Arnold, who also added, “The semis was a lot closer in score, but it was also because I did not play well yesterday.”
Komodo Wan stamps his mark
Fuelled by a string of good results of late, Nafiizwan Adnan retained his national title after he upstaged Ivan Yuen in four entertaining games. In the first game, Wan opened up a 4-point lead to 8-4 and pretty much never looked back, winning 11-8, despite sending one too many forehand boasts into the tin.
Ivan came back strongly in the second to lead 4-1 and 6-2. Wan manages to recompose to claw back to level 8-8, but at 8-9 down, he tins twice in a row to hand Ivan the game, first off a service return and after that a simple backhand drop.
With things level, play got a lot more tensed in the third. Both players awed the crowd with their speed and retrieval skills and up to 4-4, there was nothing between the pair. But a series of fine winners from Ivan saw him open up an 8-4 lead and then 9-5.
Wan used his experience from the big matches to keep things simple and manages to claw back to 9-9, with a couple of refereeing decisions that were questionable, especially two on the backhand front corner where Ivan was denied a let. A stroke to Ivan got him to game ball, but this was followed by a pair of no lets, the first being a very harsh one. It was game ball to Wan which he converts after Ivan sends the ball out of play.
The decisions got to Ivan and he didn’t seem as concentrated in the fourth, falling behind 6-1 in a short time. He pulls himself together and got to 6-4 before a no let stopped his run. Wan wins an exciting rally where Ivan’s dive attempt did not reach the front wall to get to 9-4. Ivan wins a pair of points to close the gap 9-6 before a third no let in the exact backhand front corner. Wan holds on to this lead and wins the game, and his national title 11-8.
In the earlier round, Nafiizwan beat world junior champion Ng Eain Yow comfortably in straight games while Ivan got the better of Mohd Addeen Idrakie, the surprise semi-finalist who upstaged former world number 7 Ong Beng Hee in the quarters.
“I’m happy to win another national title and as you can see, the quality has improved from last year. In the second game, I opened the curt too much and there were too many mistakes. I played a lot more patiently after that and moved Ivan a lot more.
I’m playing a lot better now and I believe being based abroad and having a lot more better players to play with, it has improved my game. If Ivan does the same, I am sure he will benefit too and see the results,” said the two-time national champion.
Over in Yokohama, Japan – Misaki Kobayashi survives a close one while Ryunosuke Tsukue cruises
In Japan, Misaki Kobayashi clinched her record eight national title after she came back from a game down to edge youngster Satomi Watanabe 8-11, 11-6, 11-5, 8-11, 14-12. It was clearly a disappointing result for Satomi, who twice held match balls but simply could not convert them.
Misaki had an easy semi-final win over Risa Sugimoto in the semis, dropping only 7 points in her straight games victory while Satomi upset the experienced and second seeded Chinatsu Matsui in straight games also. While Chinatsu was the higher seed, it was clearly evident Satomi’s game was a notch higher.
In the men’s event, Ryunosuke Tsukue expectedly won the title, beating second seed Masaki Suzuki 11-3, 11-8, 11-7. Earlier in the semi-finals, both the finalists had beaten surprise opponents Takanori Shimizu and Ken Okada, who both upset the 3rd and 4th seeds.
Delia Arnold bt Low Wee Wern 11-9, 11-2, 11-9
Nafiizwan Adnan bt Ivan Yuen 11-8, 8-11, 12-10, 11-8
Delia Arnold bt Sivasangari Subramaniam 14-12, 10-12, 11-9, 6-11, 11-7
Low Wee Wern bt Rachel Arnold 11-5, 11-4, 11-2
Nafiizwan Adnan bt Ng Eain Yow 11-8, 11-6, 11-9
Ivan Yuen bt Mohd Addeen Idrakie 11-4, 11-4, 11-7
Ryunosuke Tsukue bt Masaki Suzuki 11-3, 11-8, 11-7
Misaki Kobayashi bt Satomi Watanabe 8-11, 11-6, 11-5, 8-11, 14-12
Satomi Watanabe bt Chinatsu Matsui 11-7, 12-10, 11-3
Misaki Kobayashi bt Risa Sugimoto 11-2, 11-3, 11-4
Masaki Suzuki be Takanori Shimizu 11-9, 7-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-2
Ryunosuke Tsukue bt Ken Okada 12-10, 11-2, 11-4
Pictures by Squash Rackets Association of Malaysia and Japan Squash Association