KUALA LUMPUR – The Malaysian challenge was cut down to size with just three players making it through to the quarter-finals of the CIMB Foundation WSF World Junior Squash Championships.
Girls’ third-fourth seed Aifa Azman and fifth-eighth seed Chan Yiwen as well as boys’ fifth-eighth seed Siow Yee Xian all got through their third and fourth round matches on a long day of action at the National Squash Centre, Bukit Jalil.
With two rounds of matches on one day, there were certainly a lot of weary legs and this too brought about some major upsets, most notably in the boys’ competition with unseeded Lewis Anderson of England and ninth-12th seed Veer Chotrani of India both gatecrashing the last eight.
For Malaysia though, the results were pretty clear cut as the trio of boys in Duncan Lee, Danial Nurhaqiem and Amir Amirul all gave a good account of themselves but bowed out in the third round.
Yee Xian on the other put up a much improved display to first beat Switzerland’s Campbell Wells 11-6, 11-7, 12-10 in the third round, before returning hours later to see off American Nicholas Spizzirri 11-6, 11-6, 11-7.
Its a fine showing by the Melakan who reached the top eight for the first time in his last world juniors and it earned him a showdown with top seed and world No. 29 Mostafa Asal of Egypt.
The two-time defending champion wasn’t troubled much as he first downed England’s Jared Carter and then swept past an exhausted To Wai Lok of Hong Kong in the last 16.
“It’s much better, much controlled performance today compared to my second round match,” said Yee Xian.
“I’m obviously very happy to make it this far. Its my first time in the top eight as last year I only made the last 16 so its an improvement.
“Of course it will be tough against Mostafa. Just look at the rankings. He’s in the top 30 in the world while I’m not even top 300. But as the underdog, I’m just going out there to enjoy the game with no pressure at all.”
For the Malaysian girls, Aifa had temporary blip as she dropped a game before beating India’s Sanya Vats 11-7, 11-7, 10-12, 11-6 in the third round. She however recovered superbly, taking all of 16 minutes to blow past Hong Kong’s Kirstie Wong 11-2, 11-3, 11-2 in the fourth round.
Yiwen on the other hand first squeezed past teammate Noor Ainaa Amani Ampandi in the third round before stepping it up to beat Egypt’s ninth-12th seed Sana Ibrahim 11-8, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7.
The KL girl who will also make the top eight for the first time, goes on to meet another Egyptian – third-fourth seed Farida Mohamed who edged past 15-year-old Aira Azman 12-10, 12-10, 11-8, next.
“Sana put me under a lot of pressure and that’s how I lost the second game. But I made the adjustments according to come back strongly in the third and fourth,” said Yiwen.
“Its good to justify my seeding. Its also my first quarter-final showing and I’m looking forward to taking on Farida, whom I last met in January during the British Junior Open. It would be nice to take her down on home ground.”
Other Malaysian girls on the day – Yee Xin Ying and Ooi Kah Yan – lost out in the third and fourth rounds respectively.
Meanwhile the biggest winner on the day was none other than English boy Anderson.
The 18-year-old enjoyed his biggest career win when he produced an outstanding performance to stun third-fourth seed Viktor Byrtus of Czech Republic 11-9, 13-15, 11-4, 6-11, 11-6 in the third round.
Not satisfied with that, Anderson returned to court hours later and followed through with yet another top-notch showing, this time to pack off 13th-16th seed Karim Elbarbary of Egypt 11-7, 11-7, 11-5.
“It was massive to beat Viktor in the third round. I looked at the draw, playing the third-fourth seed and somehow I just managed to push through for my biggest win yet,” said Anderson.
“After that I went back to the hotel, got some food and I felt good and I backed myself to go against another tough opponent.
“When I came back on court, everything went smoothly and I played some of my best squash so I’m really happy to be in the top eight,” added Anderson.
The boy from Solihull goes on to face Asian Junior Under-19 champion Veer, who was also impressive in sealing a 10-12, 11-6, 11-8, 11-3 win over fifth-eighth seed Yannick Wilhelmi of Switzerland.