Fi­nals set to be thrillers

New Straits Times - - Sport -

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

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