YTL Malaysian Open 2004
Jul, Kuala Lumpur, $20k 

Sat 24th, Final:

[1] Vanessa Atkinson (Ned) bt [4] Nicol David (Mas)
      9/2, 9/4, 9/0

Atkinson does
it again in KL
Alex Wan reports ... 

Vanessa Atkinson today once again broke local hearts when she stopped Nicol David from winning in her homeground ... again! After winning the MAS KL Open earlier this year, she won once again to maintain her 100% winning streak on Malaysian ground this year.

After a tough semi-final against Shelley Kitchen the previous evening, Atkinson showed no signs of fatigue at all as she chased down everything David threw at her. Her retrieval skills are simply a joy to watch and many in the crowd sighed in disbelief.

Playing very smart shots and helped by David's high mistake rate, Atkinson won rather easily, dropping only a total of 6 points in the three quick games. David was not herself tonight, clipping the tin way too many times. She was rather frustrated on court with this and was constantly mumbling to herself in court, something very unlike her usual self.

Atkinson was a happy lady.
"I wish I could move this glass court to every tournament I play in, it's been a very lucky court for me so far."

A disappointed Nicol told the Star: "I managed to recover mentally but physically I was not up to the mark for the final. After playing at a very high level against Linda, it was hard to push my game up so soon. The final was a good lesson for me. I need to learn to recover faster from long hard matches.

"Furthermore, Vanessa was playing well which left little room for me to do anything."

The event was graced by "Pete", the emeritus president of the WSF and also Andrew Shelley, executive director of WISPA.

The Malaysian Open is the second tournament in the "Asian leg" of the squash tour, after the Singapore Open two weeks ago. The ladies travel to Brunei next week and will be joined by the world numbers one and two Cassie Jackman and Rachel Grinham  [Jackman has withdrawn injured, Ed].

2003 Event




Nicol David with her parents,
Ann & Desmond, who came down
from Penang to watch this week

YTL Malaysian Open  2004
21-24 Jul, Kuala Lumpur, $20k 
First Round,
Wed 21st
Thu 22nd
Fri 23rd
Sat 24th
[1] Vanessa Atkinson (Ned)
9/3, 7/9, 9/4, 9/2 (32m)
[Q] Runa Reta (Can)
Vanessa Atkinson
9/3, 9/0, 9/7 (32m)
Rebecca Chiu
Vanessa Atkinson

6/9, 9/3, 9/6, 9/4 (41m)

Shelley Kitchen
Vanessa Atkinson

9/2, 9/4, 9/0

Nicol David
[6] Rebecca Chiu (Hkg)
9/4, 9/2, 9/7 (28m)
[Q] Raneem el Weilily (Egy)
[3] Fiona Geaves (Eng)
9/5, 9/5, 9/1 (28m)
Tegwen Malik (Wal)
Fiona Geaves
9/3, 9/2, 1/9, 9/0 (29m)
Shelley Kitchen
[5] Shelley Kitchen (Nzl)
9/6, 6/9, 9/7, 9/0 (45m)
Sharon Wee (Mas)
[Q] Eman El Amir (Egy)
4/9, 5/9, 9/2, 9/5, 9/2 (50m)
[7] Pamela Nimmo (Sco)
Pamela Nimmo
9/0, 9/4, 6/9, 9/4 (41m)
Nicol David
Nicol David

9/5, 3/9, 9/2, 10/8 (46m)

Linda Elriani

Amelia Pittock (Aus)
9/7, 9/2, 10/8 (29m)
[4] Nicol David (Mas)
[Q] Ellen Petersen (Den)
9/2, 9/6, 9/0 (26m)
[8] Latasha Khan (Usa)
Latasha Khan
9/3, 9/6, 9/5 (27m)
Linda Elriani
Annelize Naude (Ned)
9/2, 9/5, 9/7 (33m)
[2] Linda Elriani (Eng)

Qualifying Finals (Tue 20th):
Raneem El Weleily (Egy) bt Tamsyn Leevey (Nzl)  9/7, 10/8, 9/6 (33m)
Eman El Amir (Egy) bt Tricia Chuah (Mas)  9/1, 1/9, 9/5, 9/2 (31m)
Runa Reta (Can) bt Joshna Chinappa (Ind)  5/9, 9/7, 9/0, 9/7 (39m)
Ellen Petersen (Den) bt Heidi Mather (Aus)  10/8, 9/2, 9/6 (43m)
Qualifying Round One:
Tamsyn Leevey (Nzl) (1) bt Sally Looi (Mas)  9/2, 9/4, 10/8 (25m)
Raneem El Weleily (Egy) (5) bt Mami Nishio (Jpn)  10/8, 8/10, 10/8, 9/3 (53m)
Eman El Amir (Egy) (4) bt Chinatsu Matsui (Jpn)  9/2, 9/3, 9/5 (25m)
Tricia Chuah (Mas) bt Line Hansen (Den) (6)  9/5, 4/9, 9/2, 9/3 (35m)
Joshna Chinappa (Ind) bt Karen Kronemeyer (Ned) (7) w/o
Runa Reta (Can) (3) bt  Siti Munirah (Mas)  9/4, 9/2, 9/0 (20m)
Ellen Petersen (Den) (8) bt Delia Arnold (Mas)  9/0, 9/0, 9/3 (19m)
Heidi Mather (Aus) (2) bt Kozue Onizawa (Jpn)  9/4, 9/2, 9/3 (23m)

Photos ©Alex Wan

Shelley Kitchen

Rebecca Chiu

Nicol advises Latasha

Fri 23rd, Semi-Finals:

[1] Vanessa Atkinson (Ned) bt [5] Shelley Kitchen (Nzl)  6/9, 9/3, 9/6, 9/4 (41m)
[4] Nicol David (Mas) bt [2] Linda Elriani (Eng)  9/5, 3/9, 9/2, 10/8 (46m)

Nicol downs Elriani,
now for Atkinson ...
Alex Wan reports from Kuala Lumpur

In her sixth meeting with Linda Elriani, local favourite Nicol David gave the crowd something to cheer about when she chalked up her first ever victory over the 33-year old English woman after six meetings, the first one being at the Seattle Open back in 2001 and most recently, losing in straight games at this year’s Qatar Airways Challenge. Having played rather sluggishly the past two days, many didn't give David much of a chance.

In a game lasting 46 minutes, David took the tight first game 9-5 after some great squash by both players. Elriani, with far more experience on the tour then came back strongly with the second game, dropping only 3 points. Elriani’s power play was just too much for David to handle. After the break, David came back with a vengeance, dropping one point less than Elriani in the opening game.

The fourth game was a rather close affair with both players being neck to neck most of the time. The local crowd was behind David all the time and gave her a psychological boost, enough to pull of her first win over Elriani and a date with top seed Vanessa Atkinson tomorrow evening for a repeat of February's
Kuala Lumpur Open final.

Shelley Kitchen, conqueror of world number six Fiona Geaves yesterday, today hoped to go a step further. However, the red-topped Atkinson had other ideas. The first game seemed to belong to Kitchen, who had a huge lead before Atkinson started pulling back, but it was just not enough to halt Kitchen. In the second, Atkinson played a much more patient game and was constantly wrong footing the Kiwi with her flicks. Ten minutes and it was one game a piece.

The third was pretty much a “decider”, as both players seem to show signs of fatigue. Kitchen, spurred on by fellow Kiwi Tamsyn Leevey at courtside, was never in front but still managed to stay close. Fatigue gave in and mistakes began to flow in, allowing Atkinson to clinch the crucial third game to go up 2-1. The fourth game was filled with mistakes from Kitchen, who clipped the tin way too often. Atkinson’s cross court drops and super retrievals was also a key to her victory!

The final will be a repeat of February's Kuala Lumpur Open final in February, which Atkinson won, and it represents David's third successive WISPA final in Malaysia.

Thu 22nd, Quarter-Finals:
Kitchen upsets Geaves 
setup Atkinson showdown

Alex Wan reports from Kuala Lumpur

Shelley Kitchen, the world number 14 from New Zealand today upset world number 6 WISPA veteran Fiona Geaves to make her second consecutive appearance in the semi-final of the YTL Malaysian Open 2004. In a bizarre match where it took less than 30 minutes to complete, given the fact that it was over four games, the exotic looking Kitchen started off very strongly, taking the first few points before Geaves started to settle down, after 0-2 down in fact. Geaves came back to take the third, allowing Kitchen only a single point, in barely six minutes. Kitchen came back storming in the fourth with a merciless 9-0 game to complete the upset.

Top seeded Vanessa Atkinson meanwhile, booked her semi-final berth by disposing of Rebecca Chiu, who had just won the Singapore Open crown prior to coming down to Kuala Lumpur. Playing a fast paced game, Chiu found it hard to keep up. After winning the first game rather easily, victory seemed to be in the bag. However, Chiu slowly got into the momentum and gave a better fight in the second, and was leading in the earlier part of the third game. Atkinson, hoping to land her second title on Malaysian soil in as many tournaments this year, got her killer instinct back soon and wrapped up the third game.

David beats Nimmo
and aims for Elriani 

Local darling Nicol David took to court against Scottish champion Pamela Nimmo, who had a tough match last night where she had to come back from two games down against Egyptian qualifier Eman El Amir. David played a smart game combining tight drives, volley drops and angle boasts to move Nimmo around the court. Nimmo’s tiredness was clearly showing as David raced to a quick two game lead. Nimmo came back a totally different player in the third and was chasing everything David threw at her. The game was close but Nimmo sneaked in to win. A pep talk from coach Raymond Arnold during the ninety seconds seemed to have done wonders as David came back to win the fourth commandingly.

In the last match of the day, it was a contest between two hard hitters.

The recently married Linda Elriani was to face USA’s Latasha Khan for a place against Nicol David tomorrow evening. The first game was a breeze for Elriani, dropping just three points to Khan. At 3-0 up, Elriani questioned the referee in disbelief after a rather clear let (and possibly stroke too) was ruled a no let! Some tips from David during the break saw Khan fighting back in the second from 0-5 down to 6-5, but it just wasn’t enough for her to wrap it up. In the third, the same case seems to happen, with Khan crawling back slowly. Sensing this trend, Elriani tightened her game to close out the match in just under half an hour.

Wed 21st, First Round:
Nimmo squeezes through
In the first round all the seeded players progressed to the quarter-finals, although Scotland's Pamela Nimmo found herself 2-0 down to Egyptian qualifier Eman El Amir before the seventh seed recovered to complete the comeback.

Local favourite Nicol David, who retained the Asian Championship title at the same venue last month, told the Star of her 9/7, 9/2, 10/8 win over Amelia Pittock:

“The match had a mix of ups and downs. It was a tough match, especially in the third set. Amelia played well and she managed catch me off guard a few times. At 8-8, I started to get worried. But I managed to regain control of the match to win the two crucial points.”

David faces Nimmo in the quarter-finals, with the winner to meet either Linda Elriani, the second seed, or Latasha Khan.

Top seed Vanessa Atkinson needed four games to overcome Canada's Runa Reta, and meets Asian Games champion Rebecca Chiu.

Malaysia's other entrant in the main draw, Sharon Wee, failed to progress as she lost out to New Zealand's Shelley Kitchen.

“The game plan was to keep Shelley at the back corners and use delayed shots to gain advantage. It worked in the first two sets,” Wee, who was the runner-up to Nicol in the Asian Championships, told the Star. I led 7-6 in the third set but Shelley managed to gain control in the crucial moments and won three straight points to win it. She stepped up the pace again in the fourth set and I just could not keep up with her.”

Kitchen meets England's veteran Fiona Geaves for a place in the semi-finals.

Nicol aims for
another Home Win

Fresh from winning her fourth consecutive Asian Squash Championships title in the same venue, Malaysia's Nicol David is seeded four for the Malaysian Open, but will be aiming to win her home title for the first time.

In 2003 Nicol made it all the way from qualifying to the final, only to lose out to world number one Cassie Jackman.

This time she finds Vanessa Atkinson, Linda Elriani and Fiona Geaves above her in the seedings.

"My initial aim is to justify my seeding," Nicol told the Star. "It's not going to be an easy tournament because there are many good players taking part. The home ground advantage is always a positive element. Just like most players, I tend to play better when the crowd is behind me."