Sunday, July 26, 2009

Malaysian Open 2009

Qualifying 1st Round
We had 5 men and 5 women in the qualifying and this time we hoped that someone could come through and make it to the main event. Sadly, all of them were out by the end of the day. Wan came the closes, losing to Simon Rosner in 5 and had his fair share of chances to win it. Jam, Elvinn, Kam Hing and Kamran all lost in 3. Not the best result but performance was way better than the result except for Elvinn.

The girls were also the same, Wee Wern going to 4 with Camille while Sharon, Siti, Yoke Wah and Pushppa all lost in 3. Interesting part is that Sharon has not qualified for a Gold event for about 3 years now if my memory serves me right minus the wildcards that is. Yoke Wah and Siti had decent games and showed that they could play if they really wanted to.

That means we only have Azlan, Beng Hee and Nicol in the main event through merit with Delia and Asyraf through the wildcards.

1st Round Main Draw
With Beng Hee taking on Asyraf, we were assured of one Malaysian in the quarters which Beng Hee duly did his job. But credit to Asyraf, he did make it tough for Beng Hee, especially in the 2nd game. This was indeed the best performance by Asyraf ever that I had seen, fully focused and disciplined in his attitude and shot selection. If he can keep this up, he will be a very difficult player to beat in the future.

Azlan didn't have the easiest of draws but with his great performance in the recent World Games, he should be able to pull through. His opponent was Omar Mossad who took him to 5 earlier this year in the 2 star event in KL. Azlan started off well winning the 1st but didn't look sharp at all. Mossad won the 2nd and Azlan was looking lost and dejected. Something was wrong and Mossad won the 3rd 11-1!. Checking with Azlan between games, he said his leg was in pain and could not move properly. But that didn't syop him from giving his all and he was 9-3 up in the 4th thanks to some errors by an impatient Omar. Slowly but surely, Omar tightened his game and closed it out 11-9 to seal the match. Very hard luck to Azlan who has put in a lot of work in the last 3-4 months to be in good condition.

Delia was up against Natalie Grinham and was outclassed in the first 2 games. She did however managed to put a good show in the 3rd but still the gulf in class was too great to create an upset.

Nicol on paper had a very tough 1st round match against the former world number 1 and world champion, Vanessa Atkinson. But Vanessa is not the same as she was a few years back and Nicol comfortably won in straight games.

One upset in the women's side was Kasey Brown beating Omneya Kawy in straight games.

Quarterfinal matches will be played at the Curve, Mutiara Damansara from 2 pm till about 10pm.

The other reports and results can be viewed at Squashsite. Cheers and happy squashing.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

NSC Series 7

This tournament is smaller in prize money compared to the earlier set. The tournament started on Monday morning and evening with the qualifying rounds. And yesterday was the 1st rounds for both men and women. I am a little busy to do updates and will try to do some from the quarterfinals onwards.

Quarterfinals 15/7/09

Ivan was up against Jan Koukal again. Ivan lost to Jan 3-0 in the previous tournament and the signs were good as he took the 1st game. But again like he always does, Jan got into rhythm and started to dominate and duly won the next game to even the score at 1-1. The 3rd game went to Ivan and the 4th was taken by Jan. The 5th was an easy game for Ivan as Jan's resistance was broken. Ivan played well, much better than the previous tournament. Maybe the tough 1st round woke him up and so he now has a good chance of reaching the finals.

The other court was an all Pakistani affair with Arshad Burki upsetting the higher ranked Waqar Mehboob in 5. There were more lets in this rather than the squash.

Next on was Wan against Max Lee who may be a little tired after 70 min battle with Elvinn in the 1st round. But it didn't show as Max come out sharper and quicker compared to Wan who was slow and erratic and he presented the 1st game to Max. Wan Gradually worked his way back into the match by reducing the errors which were still high and managed to squeeze the 2nd in a tie break. With a little rthythm back, he was much better in the 3rd and won it comfortably. But Max was not done yet and he made a big fight of it in the 4th but Wan managed to close it with a tie break.

The last match was again a rematch of Asyraf and Yasir Butt. Yasir edged Asyraf in the previous match 3-0 with all the gams going into tie breaks. Today however, Asyraf was on fire and went 2-0 up but Yasir managed to claw the 3rd. It was neck to neck till 8-8 in the 4th but then Asyraf crumbled and made 3 errors in a row to allow Yasir to win it 11-8. The same story happened again in the 5th where it was neck to neck till 7-7. Yasir managed to squeeze a few of points to reach matchball but Asyraf managed to fight back and force a tie break. Asyraf's resistance was finally broken with 2 errors immediately after forcing the tie break. Good performance but terrible behaviour on court by Asyraf who could have been better by playing squash rather than trying to fish for lets and strokes.

The girls side was all according to the seedings except that Siti managed to upset her opponent 3-0 to make it an all Malaysian semifinals. Delia also came through 3-0 but Sharon and Wee Wern both dropped a game before coming through.

Semifinals 16/7/09

All Malaysian finals! Ivan was first on court and he took Arshad Bukri apart 3-0. Ivan was superior in all aspects and never was troubled by Burki.

Delia was on against Siti next and was coasting 2-0 before Siti managed to squeeze the 3rd 11-9 and force a 4th. Delia then upped the pace and duly closed it 11-1.

Next was Wan against Yasir Butt. Wan started off very loose and got chopped by a sharp looking Yasir. Wan tightened up and duly won the 2nd but Yasir got ahead again in the 3rd as he was reading Wan's game too easily. A variation in shots got Wan on level terms and he stayed ahead in the 5th to close it and made it an all Malaysian final tomorrow.

Sharon and Wee Wern were up next and Sharon won it 3-1. It was not the best of matches as Wee Wern was not feeling too good and that showed in her match.

For updates and results, please refer here. Till then, Happy squashing.

Latest news
Delia and Wan won the finals and congrats to them. Refer to Squashsite for details

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

NSC Series 6

Qualifying matches were over yesterday and Kamran and Rachael qualified to enter the main draw. It was pretty disappointing with the guys as Jo Wen and Kam Hing had their chances to qualify but they could not pull it off. The women's side was an easier affair with the players hardly raising a sweat to get through.

1st Round 8/7/09

We had 6 Malaysians in the main draw but only 4 managed to get through to the quarterfinals. First on court were Elvinn and Ivan. Elvinn played well to upset a higher ranked player 3-1 with 3 games going into tie breaks. Ivan on the other hand lost to the top seed in straight games. I van looked a little jaded and out of sorts but hopefully he will be able to get back to his normal self before the world juniors.

Next on were Wan and Jam. On paper, Wan had a fairly straight forward match but his opponent was determined to make it difficult and it went to 5 games. Wan finally prevailed 13-11 in the 5th. Looked a little too edgy and rushing his shots too much. Hopefully he can settle down and get his rhythm today. Jam played an excellent match to beat the 3rd seed in 5 also. It is good to finally see him get a deserved win for all the hardwork he has put in all these years.

Finally, it was Kamran and Asyraf on court. Kamran started well and took only 5 mins or so to win the 1st game 11-5. Then, the fightback came and slowly the rallies got longer and longer. Kamran was eventually subdued after 45 mins of squash. Asyraf took on court all fired up. The thing with Asyraf is that you never know what he is going to do. Today he played totally unorthodox squash and got into the head of his opponent. He was flicking and going for his shot and they all went in. He was also pretty focused and kept his cool and he won in 5 as well.

I didn't watch the girls matches but Delia, Wee Wern, Sharon, Siti and Yoke Wah are through to the quarterfinals.

Quarterfinals 9/7/09

Today we started with 4 Malaysian men in the quarters but at the end of the day we ended up with none. Elvinn took on the top seed and started off brightly taking the 1st game very comfortably. But then the top seed, Jan Koukal started getting in to rhythm and the match became longer and tougher. With a better overall game, Jan won the match 3-1 but this has been Elvinn's best match for a long time.

At the same time, Wan was on court with Arshad Burki. Having struggled yesterday, we were hoping Wan would be able to produce a better performance today. But Burki had other ideas and coupled with Wan's bad form, Burki won 3-0.

Jam was next against Waqar. Having made a great upset yesterday, Jam looked a little jaded. This could be due to the 5 games he had to play yesterday. 1st game was very poor but improved in the 2nd where he was leading 7-2 but could not finish it. The 3rd was almost lost early as Waqar had a 10-6 lead but due to his impatience, he made a string of errors and allowed Jam in. In the tie break, it was point for point till 14-14. Then Waqar hit a fluke off a great drop shot by Jam to go matchball up and he duly finished it off.

Asyraf was on court the same time as Jam and he gave a good fight all the way, going to tie breaks in all the 3 games. He was a little unlucky as a bit of poor refereeing was his undoing.

At the end of the day, we had no men left but have 3 women in the semis, Delia, Wee Wern and Sharon. Delia and Wee Wern had a relatively easy match which took them about 25 mins to finish. Sharon had a tough 45 min match against Siti and eventually winning 3-1.

I hate to say this but we have to face the truth. The refereeing over the 2 days have been quite bad and that is putting it nicely. Hopefully we can get better ones for the next 2 days.

Semifinals 10/7/09

For the 1st time I got to watch the ladies playing their matches and also today, the men finished their matches way before the ladies. Also today, they employed the 3 referee system which helped the continuity of the match but doesn't mean the refereeing improved.

First on court was Jan Koukal and Arshad Burki. This was a match of contrast, a cool and conservative Jan against an aggressive and loud Burki. It was a close match with either Burki's winners or errors deciding the points. At the end of it, Jan's cool head and consistency won it for him 3-1 in 46 mins.

Also on court the same time was Delia and Wee Wern. The match started very cautiously with the players waiting it out for each others mistakes. It was point for point till 9-9 and Wee Wern closed it thanks to 2 errors from Delia. The 2nd was no different to the 1st till 6-6 when Delia managed to pull ahead 9-6. Again a couple of errors let Wee Wern in to push it into a tie breaker which she won thanks to a Delia mistake again. So far, the match was a long drawn out affair with both players playing it so safe. Delia upped the tempo a little in the 3rd and 4th to even out the match as Wee wern looked a little tired. But in the 5th, Wee Wern started a little quicker and a little more attacking. Taking advantage of slight angles, she managed to hit a couple of short drives into the nick and a couple of flicks to wrong foot Delia to lead 8-2 before a short fight from Delia. Wee Wern eventually won 3-2 11-5 in the 5th in a reported 80 min match but I reckon it was more like 90 over mins.

The Yasir Butt and Waqar Mehboob was running at the same time as Delia and Wee Wern playing so I did not catch it too much except bits and pieces which I saw Yasir dominating the T and Waqar not his usual running self. Yasir did win it comfortably 3-0.

The last match was between Sharon and Joshna Chinappa and this was a contrast to the Delia/Wee Wern match. Sharon and Joshna both were attacking and wrong footing each other from the start of the match knowing that each of them are not the best retrievers. And the score was 3-2 in Joshna's favour in 46 mins, about half the time of the other semis. That is the contrast.

Finals 10/7/09

The finals turned out to be an exciting affair for both the women and men events as it both went to the limit. The women were on first and Joshna had an advantage of beating Wee Wern twice before. But today Wee Wern came out with guns blazing and went 2-0 up by attacking Joshna in total opposite of her match with Delia yesterday. Slowly Joshna settled down and got into a rhythm and managed to even it to 2-2. The 5th was almost a done deal as Joshna went 10-7 matchball up but a couple of errors and a winner from Wee Wern took it to the tie break. It was so close and both players had chances to win it but Joshna finally prevailed 16-14 thanks to a Wee Wern error. So close yet so far for Wee Wern and congrats to Joshna for hanging in there.

The men were on next and like the women, the favourite was under pressure. Jan and Yasir plays a similar game and in the beginning Yasir was dominating and duly won the 1st game. Jan staged a come back and squeezed the 2nd in a tie break but Yasir showed he was no pushover as he won the 3rd and was leading the 4th 7-2. Jan was ready to throw the towel from his body language but funnily Yasir his a couple of drops from the back of the court into the tin and Jan somehow found his second wind and pushed to win it 11-9. That broke Yasir's spirit and Jan coolly closed the match 11-5 in the 5th.

Congrats to the winners and better luck to those who didn't win in the next tournament which starts on Monday.

You can get the detailed results and up dated draws here. Happy squashing.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

NSC Series 6 and 7

There will be 2 tournaments back to back before the Malaysian Open to allow our back up players to prepare themselves and to gauge how much they have improved since the last set of tournaments in Feb/Mac. Comeback in a few days time to see the pics and a day to day review. Till then, happy squashing.