Finals set to be thrillers
IVAN Yuen is hoping to be third time lucky when he takes on twotime defending champion Nafiizwan Adnan in the men’s final of the Ohana National Squash Championships today.
Nicol David too reached her fourth final in seven years after unexpectedly dropping a game against national junior Andrea Lee at the Jalan Duta Squash Centre yesterday and will face first-time finalist Rachel Arnold in the women’s title decider.
Selangor’s World No 43 Ivan, runner-up in 2014 and 2016, will be looking to capitalise on his recent win over 26th-ranked Nafiizwan in Zurich to finally lift the national title.
“I’m very hungry to win the national title of course but Nafiizwan also wants to win it so it will come down to who handles it better on the day,” said Ivan after beating world junior champion Ng Eain Yow of Kuala Lumpur 119, 11-8, 11-7 in the semi-finals.
“I’m more prepared now and know what to do and how to handle things after playing him twice in the last month. I’m still the underdog and the pressure is on him as the top seed but as long as I do my best the results will come.”
Terengganu’s Nafiizwan, seeking a hat-trick of national titles, saw off Kelantan’s Syafiq Kamal 11-3, 11-2, 12-10 to reach his fifth final.
Nafiizwan defeated Ivan in the Asian Championships quarter-finals before losing to Ivan at the Grasshoppers Cup three days later though he still heads their head-to-head record 13-3.
“We’ve played each other many times and we both want to win so we’ll see how it goes this time,” said Nafiizwan, who defeated Ivan in last year’s final.
In the women’s semi-finals, Nicol recovered from the shock of losing the first game before overpowering Andrea 6-11, 11-4, 11-4, 11-4 in her bid to win a fourth national title.
Nicol will be paying closer attention to Rachel, who defeated Teh Min Jie 11-8, 11-4, 11-9 to reach the final for the first time, after being taken aback by Andrea’s go-for-broke approach in the first game.
“Andrea was waiting for the shots to come back to her to be in a position to attack and I gave her too much angle and space to play so I knew I had to make her move away from the middle,” said World No 6 Nicol.
“I watched Rachel play at the World Championship so I just have to watch out for her shots like the boast. I’m going to stick to my game and put the pressure on from the beginning.”
World No 55 Rachel will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of her now-retired sister Delia, who won the women’s title the last two years.
“It’s about time I got to the final,” said Rachel, 21, who lost to Low Wee Wern in last year’s semifinals. “I hope I can hang in there against Nicol and last more than 20 minutes. I’ll have to stick to my game plan, vary my shots and hope for the best.” Devinder Singh