Andrew Cross reports
The first round of the Women’s tournament began today with 16 matches taking place at the National Centre, Bukit Jalil. Towards the later part of the evening four men’s qualifying matches were also played as four men looked to progress to the main draw.
Natalie Grinham wasted no time advancing to the last 16 when she defeated local and qualifier Zulhijjah Azan. Zulhijjah finding it difficult to cope with the variation in pace that Natalie was effectively using.
Tomorrow Natalie will face Raneem El Weleily after she needed four games to see off wildcard Delia Arnold. In the opening game Raneem always had a couple of point’s advantage managing to see off a good challenge from Delia in the opening two games. Delia came out strong in the third taking a big lead at 9.4 eventually closing out the game 11.5. If the Malaysian crowd had any hope that Delia was going to square it at two games that quickly disintegrated as Raneem eased through the gears for an 11.1 win.
Joelle King was extremely dominant in her match against Joshnna Chinappa never really allowing the ball to get past her and it was very similar next door as Camille Serme used very good variation of pace to see off Nicolette Fernandes.
If the opening games were rather short the next set of matches were much more evenly contested. Nour El Tayeb almost created a huge upset when she held five match balls to beat last year’s semi finalist Nour El Sherbini.
Sherbini only needed one match ball of her own to progress to the second round, when El Tayeb who had an ample amount of time to hit the ball anywhere clipped the top of the tin whilst trying to play a cross court drop. Sherbini who had held a two game advantage found herself pegged back to two games all by a very determined El Tayeb. In the fifth game Sherbini was hitting a lot of tins handing the advantage to El Tayeb who had a 10.7 lead.
At 10.7 El Tayeb had created a great opportunity to win the point when she had moved Sherbini all over the court however on the last shot she seemed to change her mind and hit a cross court drop which changed the outcome of the match. From this point on she seemed to lose a bit of momentum losing the next two points rather cheaply.
She held a further two match points but Sherbini was deadly on the backhand side hitting low and tight very impressively. On paper it looked a tough draw I’m sure Sherbini will be happy she survived a tough match.
Dipika Pallikal will be happy to see off a very spirited performance from Lisa Aitken. Lisa led 7.3 in the second game but Dipika Reeled off the next 8 points to take a two game advantage and from there she was in control. Lisa however is never going to give up on any point and continued to fight to the death. Jenny Duncalf used lots of holds and deception to keep Kylie Lindsay guessing where the ball was going as she progressed in three games.
Low Wee Wern was made to work very hard in the opening game against Lauren Briggs before taking the next two games more comfortably. Briggs held a few game balls in the opening game but couldn’t quite finish it off and Wee Wern capitalised on it. Wee Wern will play Madeline Perry tomorrow after she defeated qualifier Lucie Fialova.
Line Hansen was the only non seeded player to make it into the second round when she defeated Rachel Grinham. Line has been here the last few weeks winning the NSC series one title and sparring with the locals in preparation for this event. All three games were closely contested but Line progressed to take on Laura Massaro.
Massaro seemed to get through the opening two games fairly well but Latasha Khan made her work hard in the third holding a few game balls before succumbing 19.17. Laura who held a fantastic little clinic with the juniors yesterday discussing how life is on the tour, which hopefully they learned something from and can make use of. We would like to extend our appreciation to her for preparing something really special yesterday.
Alison Waters needed five games to see of Joey Chan which set up a match with Kasey Brown. Kasey had three very tough games with Emily Whitlock, Kasey recovering from 6.0 down in the second to win 11.9 and move on in three games.
Dato Nicol David delighted the home crowd with a win over Siyoli Waters. As usual I find it extremely difficult to explain to the readers how many people come to see her play. Camera crews, Reporters and supporters all come just to get a glimpse of this amazing superstar.
Siyoli was not put off by the crowd and played really well. Nicol moves on to play long time rival Omneya Abdel Kawy after she needed all five games to see off newly crowned Irish National Champion Aisling Blake.
Men’s Qualifying Finals
Max Lee who moves the ball around the court so well with minimal effort made the court too big for Peter Creed today. Peter who in the middle of one rally must have done three pirouettes to stay in the rally before eventually winning it was never really allowed into the match. Max will now play Olli Tuominen in the first round.
Nafiizwan Adnan booked his place in the main draw in four tight games with Harinder Pal Sandhu from India. Harrinder playing much better than he was a couple of weeks ago on his last visit to Malaysia but was a little unlucky with a few decisions. Wan will not mind though and I’m sure he will relish taking on Borja Golan tomorrow.
Ivan Yuen again needed five games to see off compatriot Elvinn Keo, this time though it was much tighter with Elvinn almost pulling off his second successive upset. The opening four games were shared in the fifth Ivan always had a couple of points advantage but Elvinn recovered to 9.9. Ivan got back the advantage to 10.9 and ended a long rally with a cross court nick to take the match advancing to the main draw. Ivan pulled a tough draw taking on top seed Karim Darwish tomorrow.
Alan Clyne from Scotland and Martin Knight from New Zealand played the final match of the evening and it was a brutal match. The opening rally lasting 6 minutes 40 seconds to which national coach Paul Hornsby could no longer hold his ipad and decided it was better off back in the bag!
The opening game lasting 32 minutes with Martin taking it but at what cost. In the second game it was tight to three all taking 12 minutes to get to that stage. At 3.3 Alan got ahead to 9.4 now using more variation getting onto the ball better than Martin.
Alan was now becoming more dominant winning the next two games for a chance to play World Open Runner up Mohammed El Shorbagy.