Andrew Cross reports
The top sixteen players in both the men’s and women’s event were in action today at the National Centre, Bukit Jalil. Looking at the initial draw beforehand it seemed like each match would be evenly contested and so it proved to be.
First on in the women’s was Raneem El Weleily playing Natalie Grinham. The current world number two against a former world number two. Raneem played Natalie three times last year winning on all three occasions, most recently in the World Open. Natalie was playing some great squash today though pushing the current world number two all the way. Natalie took the opening game then consistently led by four points in the second at one stage leading 9.4.
Raneem started to play much safer moving Natalie around the court but Natalie was picking everything up. Natalie held game ball at 10.9 a huge rally with Raneem dominating the whole rally moving Natalie all over the court. So we were level at 10.10 then Natalie going for everything short as much as she could. Raneem hit a couple more tins but she just managed to sneak the game. Natalie though kept on pushing hard in the third winning the crucial third. In the fourth she took a five point advantage leading 10.5 before finishing the match with a stroke.
Joelle King and Camille Serme were also playing at the same time, both players having progressed so impressively yesterday. Joelle and Camille are the current world number 7 and 9, so it was expected to be a very tight match and that is just how it turned out. Both girls went for this match point for point for a full 90 minutes with their never really being many points between them. Joelle it was though who survived progressing to the glass court tomorrow.
If there were a few long women’s games Nour El Sherbini taking on Annie Au was anything but with both of them looking to fire in the ball short at every opportunity. Annie was leading the opening game 10.8 but Sherbini soon turned that around. This was a repeat of the semi final from last year but not the same the winner. Sherbini will take on Alison Waters tomorrow after she defeated Kasey Brown. Alison needed 50 minutes to see of Kasey in four evenly contested games.
Madeline Perry survived the longest match of the tournament so far when she defeated higher ranked Malaysian Low Wee Wern in 94 minutes. Madeline took a tense opening game on the tie break however she lost the next two games. Lots of lets and frustrations beginning to creep in during the fourth game but Madeline held on to win 11.8. In the fifth Wee Wern beginning to cramp looking more and more in distress as the match progressed eventually lost 11.4. Madeline now faces Laura Massaro after she defeated Line Hansen in three games.
Jenny Duncalf taking on Dipika Pallikal was a real advert for the women’s game as both of them worked the ball around the court really well using all four corners to the full effect. Both players were hitting some great line, length using deception to try and catch each other out of position. It was Jenny though who got the better of her younger opponent.
Dato Nicol David needed 46 minutes to advance to the quarter finals after defeating Egyptian Omneya Abdel Kawy. The opening game was tight Nicol holding game ball at 10.8 however she missed a forehand volley drop but just managed to hold on to the game. In the second Nicol was leading 9.7 when Omneya dominated the rally from start to finish hitting some great shots that would have been winners against anyone else but Nicol showed all of her retrieval skills during this rally to move her to game point.
Nicol closed out the game as one of Omneya’s shots hit the top of the glass. Nicol then won the third but I’m sure she will be expecting a tough match from Jenny tomorrow.
Bengy beats defending champ Mosaad
Ong Beng Hee pulled off the biggest upset of the men’s draw when he defeated last year’s champion Omar Mosaad in four games. Beng Hee and Mosaad were trading points in the opening part of the first game playing tight down the backhand side Beng Hee using height, Mosaad playing slighter flatter as soon as Beng Hee left one slightly off the wall Mosaad played a backhand straight drop never really allowing Beng Hee direct access to the ball.
Beng Hee managed to play with more variation in the next three games though using his holds to good effect and getting forward onto the volley. At 9.4 in the fourth game Mosaad shook the hand of Beng Hee so the Malaysian moves on.
Mohamed El Shorbagy the World Open runner up was taking on qualifier Alan Clyne in his opening match. Shorbagy at a career high of number five in the world got off to a strong start needing only 32 minutes to see of Alan Clyne. At 9-10 Alan serving from the left box he served into the wall very short leaving himself to be attacked with Shorbagy punishing him down the line followed by a block. A no let was awarded with a few words exchanged in the interval. Shorbagy was in no mood for messing around in the third though quickly closing it out 11.5.
Next up for Shorbagy will be Karim Abdel Gawad after he saw off hard hitting Australian Cameron Pilley. Pilley looking strong in the opening two games leading 6.2 in both however he could only convert the second. Gawad went on to win the next two games to advance to the quarters.
In the battle of two of the fastest players on the tour between Tarek Momen and Saurav Ghosal it was Momen that started the better to take the opening game. Momen catching Saurav in the face mid way through the first game which forced a slight medical time out. Tarek again started well in the second leading 5.2 but Saurav won the next five points to advance to 7.5 eventually winning 11.8.
The third was close all the way to 5.5 but then again Saurav put a little passage of play together to win the next six points. Tarek was now looking very animated between games but got it back in the fourth game winning it 11.6. In the fifth he was holding the ball so well in the front forehand racing out to a 7.2 lead and booking his place in the quarters with an 11.5 fifth game score.
Borja Golan needed all of his experience to see off a strong challenge from Malaysian Nafiizwan Adnan. Borja just had the edge in the opening game but in the second they were neck and neck to 8.8. At this point there was an exchange of backhand drops in the front corner there must have been eight or ten drops before Borja eventually hit the tin. Borja had enough though to win the next two games to take on Tarek tomorrow.
Nicolas Mueller who probably almost considers himself a local here was playing a genuine local in Asyraf Azan. Nicolas who has been here for the last few weeks training played a very fast aggressive game to keep Asyraf guessing where the ball was going. Nicolas advances in three games to set up a rematch from last year with Beng Hee.
Karim Darwish who is probably the king of getting rid of qualifiers in the opening rounds managed to dispose of Ivan Yuen. Ivan was doing all he could to try and stay with the former World Number one but Darwish is immense in the opening rounds.
Olli Tuominen and Max Lee played out a great match of tactical awareness as both players moved each other around the court to maximum of their limits. Max was leading the first game 8.5 but Olli fought back to level at 8.8, Max got himself back in front at 9.8 but Olli just had enough to win it 12.10.
In the second game Olli started better leading 8.3 but with both of them moving each other around so much there was bound to be a slight momentum change at some stage and it came after one big rally which Max won. He managed to build on this to get back to 7.8 but Olli got his second win and won 11.8. Max began the third with real intent getting to 6.1 but Olli kept on running as each of them tested the other to the maximum efforts. Olli just had enough though to win the game 12.10.
Quarter-finals onward will be played on the all-glass court at Berjaya Times Square.