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Malaysia’s Nafiizwan Adnan halts Nick Matthew’s Gold Coast campaign

Alex Wan
Alex Wan
Alex Wan is an avid squash lover who writes, photographs, plays and coaches when he is not making a living with his Finance degree.

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The Komodo Adnan ends Matthew’s dream of a Commonwealth Games hat-trick
By Alex Wan – Squash Mad Asian Bureau Editor

Malaysian number one Nafiizwan Adnan scored his maiden win over England’s top seeded Nick Matthew in an epic quarter-final match at the Oxenford Studios. It was the Malaysian’s maiden win over the two-time champion and it couldn’t have come on a better stage than the Commonwealth Games, which holds a special place in his heart.

Adnan, who is also widely known as The Komodo in the squash fraternity, twice led in games, winning the first and third games, but Matthew, who is playing in his final season and Commonwealth Games, came back twice to force the decider.

However, Adnan, the world number 35, dominated the third, constructing a huge 10-3 lead and although Matthew staged a comeback to close the gap to 10-6, it was the Malaysian’s day as he won after 81 minutes in court.

A clearly happy Adnan said after, “I’m very happy with the way I played but it is still too early to celebrate that win because there is still tomorrow and the day after to play for.”

When asked if playing for the country meant more to him, he said, “The Commonwealth Games doesn’t happen every year. For us in squash, it is like the Olympics since we have not gotten into that yet. So, whenever I get to play in it, I will always push myself harder than any other tournament. Putting on the Malaysian shirt also means a lot to me. I want to present Malaysia well and I want to carry the Malaysia name as high as I can.”

Adnan scores his first win ever over England’s Nick Matthew

After many times of being on the losing side against Matthew, he has finally done it and according to Adnan, he didn’t do anything different.

“I didn’t do anything particularly different or special today. I just played my game, as well as I could. There was really nothing different I did, but I felt more confident with myself today, and I feel that made the difference for me.”

Adnan was given a free pass into today’s match after Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly gave a walkover in their second round match with a leg injury. His win today makes him the second Malaysian in the men’s last four, after Azlan Iskandar lost out to James Willstrop in the 2010 Games. Tomorrow, Adnan will once again play Willstrop, who is the only Englishman who won today after Daryl Selby also lost to New Zealand’s Paul Coll.

When asked what he thought of his meeting with Willstrop tomorrow, Adnan said, “It will be exactly the same as today. James is a really good and talented player and I am sure it is going to be another tough match. I am going in to have a good time myself, as I really enjoy the pressure and atmosphere on the centre court.”

Squash legend Matthew, who is retiring at the end of the season and played his last singles match of the Commonwealth Games, later tweeted, “Don’t think a tweet can portray how disappointed I am to bow out at the Quarter Final stage at #GC2018Squash but here goes. No matter how good your preparation, sport is about performing on the day & I lost to the better player today. Sport clearly very rarely does fairy tales.”

It was a great day for Malaysia as two-time champion Nicol David also made it into the last four. The former world number one also won an epic quarter-final match, coming back from two games down to oust England’s Alison Waters.

It will be an interesting semi-final day tomorrow as for the first time, we will have two English, two Malaysians, two New Zealanders and two Welsh competing at this stage for the first time.

2018 Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast, Australia.
Men’s Quarter-Finals:

[12] Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) bt [1] Nick Matthew (ENG) 11-7, 6-11, 12-10, 4-11, 11-6 (81m)
[4] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [7] Cameron Pilley (AUS) 7-11, 12-10, 7-11, 11-6, 11-6 (95m)
[11] Joel Makin (WAL) bt [8] Alan Clyne (SCO) 11-9, 4-11, 8-11, 11-8, 12-10 (99m)
[2] Paul Coll (NZL) bt [5] Daryl Selby (ENG) 11-5, 11-9, 7-11, 11-5 (77m)


Pictures by Toni van der Kreek


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