Selangor Journal
National squash players Rachel Arnold (left) and Aifa Azman (right) in action during their match against English players Alison Waters (second from left) and Sarah-Jane Perry (second from right), in the women’s semi-finals of the 2022 Commonwealth Games at the University of Birmingham Hockey and Squash Centre in Birmingham, the United Kingdom, on August 7, 2022. — Picture by BERNAMA

Addeen Idrakie, Aifa, Rachel reach last eight in Malaysian Open

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 — Three national players – Muhammad Addeen Idrakie Bahtiar (men’s singles); Aifa Azman and Rachel Arnold (women’s singles) – checked into the quarter-finals of the Malaysian Open Squash Championships 2022 at the National Squash Centre here today.

Men’s world number 83 Muhammad Addeen continued his giant-killing act when he stunned world number 19 Raphael Kandra of Germany 4-11, 11-7, 13-11, 9-11, 11-8 in a tough 66-minute second-round clash.

Yesterday (November 22), the 28-year-old Muhammad Adden, a former SEA Games champion, ousted world number 22 Omar Mosaad of Egypt 14-12, 11-5, 11-13, 11-7 in the opening round.

However, Muhammad Addeen, who is the sole Malaysian left in men’s singles, faces an uphill task in the last eight as he will be up against top seed Tarek Momen after the world number seven Egyptian began his campaign by downing compatriot Yahya Elnawasany 6-11, 11-3, 11-3, 11-6, 11-1.

Muhammad Addeen attributed his victory over Kandra to self-belief and being fit to play another long match after yesterday’s exertions against former world number three Omar.

“I won’t say I am a giant killer but I’m playing with no pressure as I am not seeded. They are under more pressure because they are seeded. I received great support from the home crowd… They really helped me play a good game.

“I just hope tomorrow (November 24) I can continue in the same vein. This is my biggest achievement, first time reaching the quarter-finals of this US$50,000 (RM228,750) tournament and first time beating a top 20 player in the world,” he told reporters.

Meanwhile, Aifa is set to face an acid test in her title defence when she goes up against world number 14 Nele Gilis of Belgium in women’s singles tomorrow.

The 20-year-old Aifa, who received a first-round bye, began her campaign with a commendable 11-6, 11-4, 11-8 victory over teammate Ainaa Amani Ampandi today.

“I have seen her (Gilis) play, she is fit and used to be a runner, but her game has changed (and she) plays a shorter (fast game). So, if she plays short, I think I will have an advantage because I am used to it,” said world number 21 Aifa.

World number 26 Rachel, meanwhile, bounced back from a set down to dispose of England’s Grace Gear 10-12, 12-10, 11-7, 11-9 in 38 minutes to keep Malaysia’s quest to dominate the women’s singles event since 2017 on track.

Rachel, the 2019 champion, will face fourth seed Nadine Shahin of Egypt tomorrow and hopes to take advantage of the withdrawal of several seeded players to check into the semi-finals.

National men’s number one singles player Ng Eain Yow was five points away from a stunning win over world number 11 Joel Makin before faltering 6-11, 11-6, 11-8, 9-11, 5-11.

Having taken a 2-1 lead, the 24-year-old Eain Yow found himself 6-1 up in the fourth set before he crumbled, allowing the second-seeded Makin to turn on the style and complete a much-deserved fightback after an almost 70-minute battle.

“I thought I played well today… It’s disappointing to lose in the second round. I did my best but it just wasn’t good enough. He was more aggressive and pushing a lot harder, and didn’t give me a chance to be comfortable on the court,” he said.

— Bernama 

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