Win in KL
March 7, 2008, By Alex Wan, SquashTalk.com , Independent News; © 2007 SquashTalk LLC
A fairy tale climax KL Open is in the books tomorrow as both Azlan Iskandar and Ong Beng Hee ejected the top two seeds in similar fashion to set up an all-Malaysian final and both Nicol David and nemesis Natalie Grinham won their matches to set up a dream final in the women’s event.
Bengy Aces It
Ong Beng Hee scored a strong win. (photo:©2008 Alex Wan)
Bengy came on court first against former world number four Stewart Boswell. Kitted mainly in red, the traditional lucky colour for the Chinese, Bengy did not show any of his usual slow start trait. Both players were engaged in long rallies, taking turns to attack and defend rather equally. There were plenty of exchanges in the front backhand corner and most of them were won be Bengy, catching Boswell with crosscourt backhand drives, who guessed otherwise.
Bengy looked very relaxed today and nothing like the previous two days. The other big difference was also he attacked a lot more than his usual self. Bengy has often been criticised for his lack of attack in his game and today he proved otherwise. Boswell meanwhile, didn’t look very comfortable in there and had problems with his racket that seem to be slipping off his grip. Bengy said later, “I played a lot better today and Boswell’s mistakes certainly helped. After two matches, I feel a lot more relaxed and was able to enjoy my squash.”
It was certainly an entertaining match for Malaysians watching from all angles of the shopping mall. A victorious Malaysian who was recently under fire with the Squash Rackets Association of Malaysia and the press, winning in front of many home fans, it must be a major confidence booster for Bengy. Perhaps it was the red colour that brought him his good fortunes!
Azlan Completes the Puzzle
Iskandar (in black) worked his way past Adrian Grant. (photo:©2008 Alex Wan)
Newly crowned Asian champion Azlan Iskandar completed the perfect finale for tomorrow as he ousted second seed English number five Adrian Grant. The pair has met numerous times on Malaysian soil in the last two years, with the Malaysian emerging victorious each time. Things were the same today, and this must be one of their shortest matches here, as each time they meet, it gets very close. 3-0 was the score and still it took a full hour to complete!
The match began with both players setting a steady pace and moving each other around. There was really nothing much exciting, particularly in the first. It was just that Grant was the one who crumbled with mistakes more than Iskandar, allowing the Malaysian to lead 1-0. The second saw both of them fully warmed up now and attacking a lot more in comparison, and Azlan once again squeezed through 11-8. The third was a different ball game altogether, as Grant seemed to get his shots in this time round. The first half had both players neck to neck, but it was Grant who broke away to 9-5. At this point, many would’ve thought the fourth was in view, but Iskandar stepped up his game. He attacked once again, pushing in some very tight straight forehand drives to force a weak return and finished it off with a straight drop. This must’ve worked at least four times, as he slowly crawled back and won six consecutive points to earn the victory.
When asked later if this is how he’d wanted it, he said “Definitely the 3-0 part, but not at 5-9 down in the third!” He went on to add, “This all Malaysian final tomorrow will be great. The last time I played Bengy in Kuwait, it went on for two hours. The Squash Rackets Association of Malaysia can’t ask for anything better than this, the both of us in the final. Today Bengy and I proved that we still have what it takes to be up there.”
IT’S DAVID AND GRINHAM AGAIN
The Dutch Battle
Natalie Grinham over Vanessa Atkinson. (photo:©2008 Alex Wan)
Playing in her first tournament as a Dutch national, Natalie Grinham took on the Dutch national champion and former world champion Vanessa Atkinson. Yesterday, Grinham was stretched by Hong Kong’s Rebecca Chiu, and it would’ve been easy to assume that she’d struggle even more against Atkinson tonight. This was certainly not the case in most parts of the match. To a certain extent, the scoreline does look like a thrashing of Atkinson, but it was nowhere near that and the match duration of 30 minutes would say quite a fair bit too.
The first was over in a matter of minutes. Grinham attacked and sent Atkinson to all corners of the court. The rallies were long, but Grinham was in control in most of them and Atkinson wasn’t moving very well. 9-0 to Grinham! The first two points in the next game went Grinham’s way as well before Atkinson finally got her first point. It was neck to neck from here, Atkinson getting into the game and punishing Grinham with her fast paced game at times. The game ended in a rather anti-climax situation as Grinham was awarded a stroke in a situation where she delayed her shot and Atkinson moved in front of her. Even the three referee system’s decision was not unanimous! Grinham came back very strongly in the third and once again didn’t drop a single point.
Duracell Bunny Halts Waters
World champion Nicol David halted the killing run of on-form British champion Alison Waters. The pair played a very energetic match but the Duracell bunny was once again, superior. David moved very well and was in her element, Waters certainly didn’t play bad at all. In fact, she put a very strong challenge in the first, putting away several great winners. David said afterwards, “I expected a tough match from Alison, especially after her high from her win yesterday. Even after such a long hard match, she came very strongly today. I had to keep the pace high and each time she stepped back, I increased the tempo. Tomorrow will be an exciting day for Malaysia, with both the boys in the final and also me playing Natalie. We always have very close matches, so it should be a great match.”
RESULTS: CIMB KL Open Squash Championships, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
 Ong Beng Hee (MAS) bt  Stewart Boswell (AUS)
 Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS) bt  Adrian Grant (ENG)
 Nicol David (MAS) bt Alison Waters (ENG) bt  Rachael Grinham (AUS) 9-6 9-4 9-4
 Natalie Grinham (NED) bt Vanessa Atkinson (NED) 9-0 9-7 9-0