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AirAsia Asian Squash Championships 2004,
Malaysia, 18-26 June

26-Jun:
Men's Team Final:
Pakistan 2 Malaysia 1
(Mansoor Zaman bt Ong Beng Hee 9-3, 10-8, 8-10, 9-7, Shahid Zaman bt Azlan Iskandar 9-5, 10-8, 2-9, 2-9, 9-7, Farrukh Zaman lost to Kenneth Low 7-9, 9-2, 8-10, 4-9 )

Women's Team Final:
Malaysia 3 Hong Kong 0 (Nicol David bt Rebecca Chiu 1-9, 9-3, 9-4, 9-1, Tricia Chuah bt Annie Au 9-6, 9-5, 9-1, 2nd string not played).

Also: Alex Wan reports from KL

Pakistan deny
the hosts a
clean sweep

The final day of competition in the Asian Squash Championships saw both team titles retained, as Malaysia's women eased past Hong Kong, and Pakistan's men beat the hosts to deny Malaysia a clean sweep.

The Zamans- Mansoor and cousin Shahid, representing the same Khan family that has produced the such greats like Jahangir and Jansher Khan, led Pakistan to retain their Asian Title by winning their matches after Malaysia's Kenneth Low had downed another Zaman, the younger Farrukh, in four games.

But it was Mansoor Zaman, currently ranked world No. 19, who managed to avenge his defeat in the individual finals by beating the Malaysian star and world ranked No. 20 Ong Beng Hee in the second match to put Pakistan back on course. Zaman had won the first game 9-3 but in the second he was made to fight for every point and lost at 8-10. The third game again saw the two involved in a bitter fight as the lead changed hands and in the end it was Mansoor who finally prevailed with a score of 10-8.

In the fourth game the Malaysian, backed by the local supporters, again fought closely and repeatedly forced Mansoor to make crucial errors as the score was leveled time and again. Mansoor again managed to prevail as he took two crucial points in the end to win the game and the match 9-7.

Shahid Zaman was pitted the higher-ranked Mohammad Azlan Iskandar and when Azlan took the first two games, it looked like the Pakistanis would lose their title. Shahid lost the first game 5-9 and the second 8-10.

But it was a remarkable comeback by the Pakistani as he demonstrated his skill with stamina and style to level the score 2-2 by winning the next two games conceding only four points. It looked like the Malaysian had put all his energies in the first two games and was now running out of fuel. The fifth and the final game turned out to be a thriller as the two brought out their best with the crowd just wanting Azlan to win. The neck and neck battle finally ended when Shahid managed to clinch two crucial points to win the game and the match 9-7.

Also: Alex Wan reports from KL

25-Jun:

Men's team semi-finals:
Malaysia 2 India 1
(Kenneth Low lost to Siddarth Suchde 9-2, 9-6, 9-4; Ong Beng Hee bt Ritwik Bhattacharya 9-0, 9-3, 10-9; Azlan Iskandar bt Saurav Ghosal 9-2, 9-2, 9-5).
Pakistan 2 Kuwait 0 (Majid Khan bt Nasser Al Ramzi 9-3, 9-1, 9-2; Mansoor Zaman bt Bader Al Hussaini 9-0, 9-4, 9-7).

Women's team semi-finals:
Malaysia 2 India 0
(Tricia Chuah bt Alisha Mashruwala 9-0, 9-0, 9-1; Nicol David bt Joshna Chinappa 9-1, 9-0, 9-3). Hong Kong 2 Japan 0 (Annie Au bt Kozue Onizawa 9-4, 9-1, 9-3; Rebecca Chiu bt Mami Nishio 9-6, 9-1, 9-0).

Malaysia move into
team finals

Both team finals will be repeats of the 2002 events, as hosts Malaysia kept up their bid for a clean sweep of gold medals. While the women cruised into the final, it was more of a struggle for the men.

Individual champion Ong Beng Hee said that Malaysia can win the title if he can beat Mansoor in the second match. "Pakistan are expected take the first point but if I can win, we can win the title," said Beng Hee. "Although the pressure will be enormous, I will not let the team down and we can also depend on Azlan in the deciding match against Shahid," Beng Hee told the New Straits Times.

Despite Low's defeat against India, Pakistan head coach Jamshed Gul does not want to underestimate Malaysia and expects the final to go down to the wire. "Low might not be very fit but this does not mean Malaysia are weak. Beng Hee and Azlan will be their key players," said Jamshed. "We could have good start tomorrow as the third string will be played first but Mansoor and Shahid will have to be at their best.


22-Jun, INDIVIDUAL FINALS:

[1] Nicol David (Mas) bt [3/4] Sharon Wee (Mas)
       9/4, 9/2, 9/2
[1] Ong Beng Hee (Mas) bt [2] Mansoor Zaman (Pak)
      9/2, 4/9, 10/8, 9/6

FOUR UP FOR NICOL,
HAT-TRICK FOR BENGY

Nicol David and Ong Beng Hee claimed a notable double for Malaysia in today's finals of the AirAsia Asian Squash Championships with victories over Sharon Wee and Mansoor Zaman, respectively, at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil, near Kuala Lumpur, in Malaysia.

Nicol David was a class above compatriot Sharon Wee, her training mate in Amsterdam. The 20-year-old world No8 from Penang crushed the 3/4 seed, who reached the final after upsetting two-times runner-up Rebecca Chiu in the previous round, in straight games.

Nicol's 9-4 9-2 9-2 victory gives the twice former world junior champion a fourth consecutive Asian Championship title - equalling the record set by Mah Li Lian of Singapore. It was also a morale-boosting win for the nation's most successful woman squash players of all-time - who took time off from the sport last year to 'recharge her batteries', and came back to reach a career-high world No8 in February. Today's success marks the first major title won by Nicol David since she lifted the biennial title last time in May 2002.

In the men's final, Ong Beng Hee had an easy first game win - but Mansoor Zaman, the No2 seed from Pakistan who had lost to the Malaysian in the past two finals, stepped up the pace and executed his fine front court shots to take the second game.

In the third game, Mansoor, the world No19 currently one place higher than Beng Hee in the world rankings, reached game ball at 8-5 - but the local hero kept his usual cool and levelled the score in a single hand before clinching the game to go 2/1 ahead.

It was neck to neck in the fourth until four-all. Two errors by Beng Hee gave the left-hander from Peshawar a 6-4 lead. Beng Hee, however, caught up in one change of service and went 7-6 up with another change of service. A perfectly-executed wall-clinging forehand drive finally gave Beng Hee the match ball and a 9-2 4-9 10-8 9-6 victory.

Beng Hee's hat-trick made him the first player to win the title for a third time since the inception of the Asian Championships in 1981 in Karachi.



Nicol David on course for four Asian titles

21-Jun, Semi-Finals:

[1] Nicol David (Mas) bt [3/4] Joshna Chinappa (Ind)
    
9/3, 10/8, 9/4
[3/4] Sharon Wee (Mas) bt [2] Rebecca Chiu (Hkg)
      4/9, 9/7, 9/6, 9/5

[1] Ong Beng Hee (Mas) bt [3/4] Azlan Iskandar (Mas)
     7/9, 9/1, 9/2, 9/1
[2] Mansoor Zaman bt [3/4] Shahid Zaman
     6/9, 9/2, 9/5, 9/0
 

Sharon sets up
All-Malaysian final

The women's final will be an all-Malaysian affair, after top seed Nicol David moved into her fourth successive final with a  victory over India's Joshna Chinappa, while Sharon Wee denied Hong Kong's Rebecca Chiu, beating the second seed in four games.

The 26-year-old Malaysian No2 from Malacca, who with David has been training this year with Australian coach Liz Irving in Amsterdam, overcame her nervous start to take control in the next three games to record a stunning upset.

"It was a great win for Sharon - her stint in Amsterdam has certainly paid off," said Squash Malaysia Director AJ Wong. "She was all in tears after the match." Wee's semi-final win denies Chiu, the Asian Games champion, a third successive final in this event.

David booked her fourth consecutive Asian women's final after beating the determined India No1 and British U19 Open runner-up Joshna Chinappa in straight games. Joshna was 8-7 up in the second game but was too nervous to finish the game. Nicol levelled up and took the next two points in one service - then went on to win 9-3 10-8 9-4.

"I'm really happy that it will be an all-Malaysian final in the women's individual event tomorrow. We know each other's game and only the best will come out as the winner," Nicol said.

It's Beng Hee and
Mansoor Again ...

The men's semi-finals featured an all-Malaysian clash between Ong Beng Hee and Azlan Iskandar, and an all-Pakistani  match between cousins Mansoor and Shahid Zaman.

Ong has won the last two championships, but his reign as Malaysian number one was under threat from Iskandar.

"Beng Hee has been the best Malaysian player for so many years. It's about time that someone challenges him for the title of Malaysia's best player," Azlan told the Star before the semi-final. Beng Hee said: "It's going to be a tough match. But I am not too concerned about winning or losing the Malaysian number one status. My concern right now is to see how far I have come since changing my game a year ago. I am the top seed and title holder so everyone is expecting me to win. There is a lot of pressure on me to win."

And it was the more experienced Beng Hee who won through, recovering from losing a gruelling 40-minute first game to concede just four points in the final three games, with Azlan a spent force.

"It was really a long match against Azlan as we both know each other's game. But I think Azlan lost his focus after winning the first set," Beng Hee told the local press.

In the other semi-final Mansoor, seeded two, also recovered from losing the first game against Shahid to win 3/1 and reach his third successive final against Beng Hee.

20-Jun: Asian Champs get down to business
Preview:
Malaysia look for Clean Sweep

 

Individual Championship
Ong Beng Hee and Nicol David
make history for Malaysia

 



David Dominates all-Malaysian final


Beng Hee bounces to third title


That hat-trick feeling


Gold and Silver for Malaysia


Sharon puts out second seed Rebecca Chiu in semis


Framboise Gommendy

talks to Shahid Zaman

 


Malaysian Winners to Fly Free!
Event sponsors AirAsia are providing
Malaysian winners of the top four titles with free lifetime air travel!

Asian Championships 2004 - Men's Draw
Third Round  20th Quarters  20th Semis  21st Final  22nd
[1] Ong Beng Hee (Mas)
9/4, 9/3, 9/0
[9/16] Siddharth Suchde (Ind)
Ong Beng Hee
9/5, 9/0, 9/5
Ritwik Bhattacharya
Ong Beng Hee

7/9, 9/1, 9/2, 9/1

Azlan Iskandar
Ong Beng Hee
 

9/2, 4/9, 10/8, 9/6

Mansoor Zaman

[9/16] Timothy Arnold (Mas)
9/7, 9/0, 9/3
[5/8] Ritwik Bhattacharya (Ind)
[5/8] Wong Wai Hang (Hkg)
9/6, 9/0, 9/2
Abd Khalid Mazayin (Kuw)
Abd Khalid Mazayin
9/2, 9/3, 9/0
Azlan Iskandar
[3/4] Mohd Azlan Iskandar (Mas)
9/2, 9/4, 9/1
[9/16] Bader Al Hussaini (Kuw)
[3/4] Shahid Zaman (Pak)
9/3, 9/4, 9/0
[9/16] Vincent Cheung (Hkg)
Shahid Zaman
9/6, 9/7, 9/1
Farook Zaman
Shahid Zaman

6/9, 9/2, 9/5, 9/0

Mansoor Zaman
[5/8] Farook Zaman (Pak)
9/7, 9/6, 9/1
[9/16] Kenneth Low (Mas)
[5/8] Majid Khan (Pak)
9/6, 9/4, 9/0
[9/16] Faheem Khan (Hkg)
Majid Khan
9/7, 9/3, 9/4
Mansoor Zaman
[9/16] Manish Chotprani (Ind)
9/0, 9/6, 9/2
[2] Mansoor Zaman (Pak)
Full Draw & Results
Asian Championships 2004 - Women's Draw
Second Round 20th Quarters 20th Semis 21st Final 22nd
[1] Nicol David (Mas)
9/2, 9/0, 9/3
Annie Au (Hkg)
Nicol David
9/4, 9/4, 9/0
Mami Nishio
Nicol David

9/3, 10/8, 9/4

Joshna Chinappa
Nicol David


9/4, 9/2, 9/2


Sharon Wee
Chinatsu Matsui (Jpn)
10/8, 6/9, 9/0, 9/2
[5/8] Mami Nishio (Jpn)
[5/8] Joshna Chinappa (Ind)
7/9, 9/5, 9/4, 9/0
Joannah Yue (Sin)
Joshna Chinappa
2/9, 9/5, 9/3, 9/3
Lee, Hye Kyoung
Sachiko Shinta (Jpn)
9/1, 9/0, 9/0
[3/4] Lee, Hye Kyoung (Kor)
[3/4] Sharon Wee (Mas)
9/1, 9/1, 9/2
Moon Hee Young (Kor)
Sharon Wee
6/9, 9/1, 9/0, 9/5
Christina Mak
Sharon Wee

4/9, 9/7, 9/6, 9/5

Rebecca Chiu
Park Eun Ok (Kor)
9/4, 9/1, 6/9, 9/3
[5/8] Christina Mak (Hkg)
[5/8] Tricia Chuah (Mas)
9/2, 9/0, 10/9
Mekhla Subedar (Ind)
Tricia Chuah
9/4, 9/0, 9/0
Rebecca Chiu
Sally Looi (Mas)
9/3, 9/0, 9/0
[2] Rebecca Chiu (Hkg)
Full Draw & Results

20-Jun:
Asian Champs get
down to business

The second day's play in the Asian Squash Championships in Malaysia saw all but one seed in the men's draw, and all the women's seeds successfully reach the quarter-finals.

The Men's event will feature one all-Malaysian and one all-Pakistan semi-final. Top seed Ong Beng Hee and Azlan Iskandar carry home hopes in the top half, while in the bottom half a Pakistani finalist is guaranteed as cousins Mansoor and Shahid Zaman face each other.

Beng Hee and Mansoor contested the 2000 and 2002 finals, with Beng Hee winning both times for Malaysia.

The women's event features a similar record, with Malaysia's Nicol David still on course for her third successive title, and Hong Kong's Asian Games champion Rebecca Chiu favourite to reach a third successive final against David.

David faces India's Joshna Chinappa in the semi-finals, while Chiu takes on local favourite Sharon Wee.

Preview:
Malaysia look for Clean Sweep


The bi-annual Asian Squash Championships return to Malaysia from 18-26 June, with the host nation and Pakistan again vying for the titles.

Malaysia's Ong Beng Hee and Nicol David, champions in 2000 and 2002, are top seeds with Beng Hee's main competition coming from Pakistan cousins Mansoor and Shahid Zaman. Mansoor lost out to Beng Hee in the last two finals.

"Judging by the draw, it is clear that the semi-final of the mens competition will be climax of the tournament," Beng Hee told The Star after the 64 men's draw had been made.

"If I can win my semi-final match against Azlan [Iskandar], I should be able to win the singles title. Azlan has come a long way in the last few years. He was improved a lot, so its going to be a close match."

Azlan also shared Beng Hees sentiments, saying: "If you look at the draw, I will only be playing two difficult matches in the semi-final and final. The earlier stages are expected to be easy. But I wont be taking anyone lightly. Against Beng Hee, it will be 50-50."

In the women's event Hong Kong's Rebecca Chiu, runner-up in 2000 and 2002, again looks likely to be David's main challenger. Chiu has been receiving assistance from world champion Carol Owens in a bid to repeat her victory over David in the 2002 Asian Games squash final. Owens was also lined up to assist the Malaysian women's team, but financial constraints prevented SRAM from taking up this option.

David, just back from the WISPA promotional tour to China, is looking forward to confirming herself as the undisputed Asian number one.

"Just standing there looking at the Great Wall of China and Mount Everest has done wonders to boost my confidence," Nicol told the Malay Mail. "It was truly an inspiring sight and I started visualising my target to be the world No 1."

"I feel confident that we will be able to win the team title as well for the other teams do not have depth in their squads," added Nicol, who trains in Amsterdam.

"With Sharon (Wee) and Tricia (Chuah), we have players capable of delivering points and the duo are very experienced compared to the rest of the field."

The return to the national team of Kenneth Low to join Beng Hee and Azlan Iskandar will give the hosts hope of wresting the men's team title from Pakistan, who have won the event every time except in 2000.

05-Jun:
Meads prepares Hong Kong
England's Stephen Meads has been helping Hong Kong's men's squad prepare - and is impressed ...

01-Jun:
Malaysian Winners to Fly Free !!!
Event sponsors AirAsia have announced that Malaysian winners of the top four titles will receive free lifetime air travel!

"It's for all the players in the team, if they manage to win the titles, they will receive a lifetime worth of free air travel for all AirAsia destinations," said Tony Fernandes, group chief executive officer of AirAsia at a press conference to announce the sponsorship.

The unusual sponsorship deal is reminiscent of one for the 2002 Asian Games, where Hong Kong players were offered free rice for life ...
Rice Work if you can get it

 

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