Wild card turns assassin against Creed
By ZHENG GUAN KNG – Squash Mad Correspondent
KUALA LUMPUR – The opening day of the Malaysian Open squash championships saw quite a few upsets as the hosts Malaysia grabbed the lion’s share of the wins.
In the men’s competition, wildcard entrant Ong Sai Hung claimed the biggest win of his career as he put up an excellent showing to beat Wales’ Peter Creed.
Ranked only No. 227 in the world, the 20-year-old Sai Hung played the game of his life as he earned a shocking 11-8, 11-6, 6-11, 11-5 win over world No. 65 Creed.
The Kedahan was on the mark from the word go and had Creed scrambling early as he coolly dispatched shots to take a two-game lead.
The nine-time Welsh national champion hung in there by taking the third game but Sai Hung, who has suffered seven early exits this year, was not to be denied as he took the win in 48 minutes.
“I was confident of my chances even though I’ve never played Peter before and he’s the higher ranked player,” said Sai Hung.
“This is my biggest win in my career so far and it means a lot to me to come through a hard game.
“I’ve really trained hard to get a breakthrough like this and I’ll definitely give it my best in the next round,” added Sai Hung who meets compatriot and fifth seed Ivan Yuen next.
Also scoring a big win on the day is world No. 88 Syafiq Kamal who came from behind to beat world No. 67 Dimitri Steinmann of Switzerland 12-10, 3-11, 7-11, 11-4, 11-8.
“I never played Dimitri before so I started off by probing for weaknesses. It worked well at the start but I couldn’t keep up with his pace and lost the second and third,” said Syafiq.
“After that (Ng) Eain Yow in my corner told me to just stay in the rallies longer and I knew I had a 50-50 chance when he grew tired.
“It’s a good win for me because I’ve been struggling for results recently so hopefully this is just the confidence booster I need for the rest of the year.” Syafiq goes on to meet No. 6 seed Tayyab Aslam of Pakistan in the second round.
Another upset saw in-form world No. 87 Lau Tsz Kwan of Hong Kong score an 11-8, 6-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-9 win over Australian world No. 79 Rex Hedrick.
Portugal’s Rui Soares also did well to upstage Pakistan’s Asim Khan and there were also wins for Hong Kong’s Henry Leung, France’s Baptiste Masotti and Spanish duo Carlos Ribadas and Edmon Lopez.
In the women’s competition, wildcards Aifa Azman and Chan Yiwen rose to the occasion as they dispatched higher ranked players to move into the second round.
World No. 122 Aifa, who has hit a purple patch by winning two PSA titles in Australia last month, needed just 19 minutes to beat Switzerland’s world No. 84 Nadia Pfister 11-5, 11-2, 11-3.
The fine win earned the 17-year-old a meeting with second seed and defending champion Low Wee Wern in the second round.
“I played well today and I am so ready to take on Wee Wern. The last time I played her was during the National Championships last year in which I lost 3-2,” said Aifa.
“But I’ve been playing well recently and I’m feeling confident in putting up a good game to beat our national champion.”
World No. 119 Yiwen put the disappointment of losing in the semi-finals of the Suqian Classic last week to battle past world No. 74 Sunayna Kuruvilla of India.
“I had a terrible week in China and I only had two days to reset so this win is really a big relief,” said Yiwen who turned 19 today.
“Additionally, I really wanted to prove myself that I deserved this wildcard slot. It was a close game but I’m happy to move on to focus on the next match.”
Yiwen will next meet seventh seed Menna Hamed of Egypt for a place in the quarter-finals.
Also surprising the field was 14-year-old Aira Azman who was outstanding in beating world No. 71 Tessa ter Sluis of Holland.
The younger sister of Aifa, Aira was a late entry into the competition following a few withdrawals.
But the youngster made the most of her opportunities as she claimed an 11-9, 11-7, 13-15, 11-6 win.
“It feels great to win because I didn’t even know I was going to play in this competition,” beamed Aira.
“I’m happy to win in the first round in a senior tournament although I did get lucky in the end.
“I play Hong Kong’s Lee Ka Yi next. I watched videos of her against (Yee) Xin Ying in China last week and I know I have a chance but it won’t be easy.”
Also winning in the first round is India’s Tanvi Khanna, Malaysian Ooi Kah Yan and a pair of Egyptians in Hana Ramadan and Farah Momen.
Malaysian Open 2019, Bukit Jalil National Squash Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
$30k Men’s First Round:
 Max Lee (HKG) bye
[9/16] Carlos Cornes (ESP) bt Jan van den Herrewegen (BEL) 11-7, 6-11, 11-6, 11-5 (52m)
Rui Soares (POR) bt [9/16] Asim Khan (PAK) 11-8, 11-8, 11-6 (20m)
 Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) bye
 Tayyab Aslam (PAK) bye
Mohd Syafiq Kamal (MAS) bt [9/16] Dimitri Steinmann (SUI) 12-10, 3-11, 7-11, 11-4, 11-8 (59m)
[9/16] Henry Leung (HKG) bt Addeen Idrakie (MAS) 6-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-9 (49m)
 Eain Yow Ng (MAS) bye
 Youssef Soliman (EGY) bye
[9/16] Baptiste Masotti (FRA) bt Juan Camilo Vargas (COL) 7-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-8 (44m)
[9/16] Edmon Lopez (ESP) bt [WC] Darren Pragasam (MAS) 11-5, 14-12, 4-11, 11-4 (43m)
 Karim El Hammamy (EGY) bye
 Ivan Yuen (MAS) bye
[WC] Ong Sai Hung (MAS) bt [9/16] Peter Creed (WAL) 11-8, 11-6, 6-11, 11-5 (48m)
Lau Tsz Kwan (HKG) bt [9/16] Rex Hedrick (AUS) 11-8, 6-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9 (69m)
 Nicolas Müller (SUI) bye
 Max Lee (HKG) v [9/16] Carlos Cornes (ESP)
 Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) v Rui Soares (POR)
 Tayyab Aslam (PAK) v Mohd Syafiq Kamal (MAS)
 Eain Yow Ng (MAS) v [9/16] Henry Leung (HKG)
 Youssef Soliman (EGY) v [9/16] Baptiste Masotti (FRA)
 Karim El Hammamy (EGY) v [9/16] Edmon Lopez (ESP)
 Ivan Yuen (MAS) v [WC] Ong Sai Hung (MAS)
 Nicolas Müller (SUI) v Lau Tsz Kwan (HKG)
$20k Women’s First Round:
 Rowan Elaraby (EGY) bye
[9/16] Hana Ramadan (EGY) bt Angie Ooi (MAS) 11-6, 11-4, 11-4 (18m)
[9/16] Farah Momen (EGY) bt Charlotte Jagger (ENG) 11-5, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7 (29m)
 Sabrina Sobhy (USA) bye
 Anna Serme (CZE) bye
[9/16] Ooi Kah Yan (MAS) bt Emilia Korhonen (FIN) 11-5, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6 (30m)
Tanvi Khanna (IND) bt [9/16] Eva Feřteková (CZE) 11-8, 11-6, 11-5 (21m)
 Rachel Arnold (MAS) bye
 Vanessa Chu (HKG) bye
[9/16] Lai Wen Li (MAS) bt Aika Azman (MAS) 11-4, 11-4, 11-6 (26m)
Aira Azman (MAS) bt [9/16] Tessa ter Sluis (NED) 11-9, 11-7, 13-15, 11-6 (33m)
 Lee Ka Yi (HKG) bye
 Menna Hamed (EGY) bye
[WC] Chan Yiwen (MAS) bt [9/16] Sunayna Kuruvilla (IND) 11-8, 11-9, 11-8 (36m)
[WC] Aifa Azman (MAS) bt [9/16] Nadia Pfister (SUI) 11-5, 11-2, 11-3 (25m)
 Low Wee Wern (MAS) bye
 Rowan Elaraby (EGY) v [9/16] Hana Ramadan (EGY)
 Sabrina Sobhy (USA) v [9/16] Farah Momen (EGY)
 Anna Serme (CZE) v [9/16] Ooi Kah Yan (MAS)
 Rachel Arnold (MAS) v Tanvi Khanna (IND)
 Vanessa Chu (HKG) v [9/16] Lai Wen Li (MAS)
 Lee Ka Yi (HKG) v Aira Azman (MAS)
 Menna Hamed (EGY) v [WC] Chan Yiwen (MAS)
 Low Wee Wern (MAS) v [WC] Aifa Azman (MAS)
Report by ZHENG GUAN KNG. Edited by ALAN THATCHER.
Pictures courtesy of Zheng Guan Kng