Day THREE : Quarter-Finals

The 2022 Malaysian Open continues today at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil with eight quarter-final matches in the PSA Gold draws – all on the Glass Court.

Arnold and Mueller upset the seedings

Rachael Arnold and Nicolas Mueller produced quarter-final upsets as they took out fourth seeds Nadine Shahin and Marwan ElShorbagy, to join the top three seeds in the men’s and women’s semi-finals.

Match reports, quotes and photos below the results …

Malaysian Open 2022 - Day THREE, QUARTER-FINALS

Women’s Quarters :
[1] Olivia Fiechter
 (Usa) 3-0 [9/16] Yathreb Adel (Egy)    11-9, 12-10, 11-7 (34m)
[3] Tesni Evans (Wal) 3-2 [6] Melissa Alves (Fra)   12-10, 10-12, 11-3, 6-11, 12-10 (70m)
[8] Rachel Arnold (Mas) 3-1 [4] Nadine Shahin (Egy)   6-11, 11-1, 11-9, 11-9 (36m)
[2] Nele Gilis (Bel) 3-0 [5] Aifa Azman (Mas)  11-9, 11-4, 11-2 (32m)

Men’s Quarters :
[1] Tarek Momen
(Egy) 3-0 Addeen Idrakie (Mas)  11-1, 11-9, 11-6 (29m)
[6] Nicolas Mueller (Sui) 3-1 [4] Marwan ElShorbagy (Egy)  11-3, 11-9, 10-12, 11-7 (41m)
[3] Mazen Hesham (Egy) 3-0 [8] Patrick Rooney (Eng)   11-5, 11-6, 11-3 (22m)
[2] Joel Makin (Wal) 3-0 [5] Miguel Rodriguez (Col)  11-8, 11-7, 14-12 (64m)

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Reports and Reaction

Momen ends Idrakie run

[1] Tarek Momen (Egy) 3-0 Addeen Idrakie (Mas)  11-1, 11-9, 11-6 (29m)

Top seed Tarek Momen came out firing in the opening game and displayed his amazing attacking shots from the very start of the match to silence the home crowd. Idrakie looked like a rabbit in the headlights, being stuck behind the World No.7 for the majority of the first game, losing it 11-1.

Idrakie managed to find a better length in the second game and aided by some errors from Momen, strung a series of points together to trouble the former World Champion. Momen managed to hang on with the physicality of the Malaysian fading, he took. 2-0 lead, winning 11-9.

It wasn’t long before Momen was booking his place in the semi-finals as the efforts of Idrakie in the opening two rounds, looked to be taking its toll on the World No.83 as his legs looked to be lacking the power to chase after Momen’s attacks. Idrakie’s dream run came to an end in 29 minutes.

“I’m happy with the way I played, obviously the conditions are a bit different, the ball’s are fast and we have to adapt to that, so I had to change the way I play normally to adapt. Addeen had a great week, he played so well this tournament, I wanted to start very sharp, I knew he had the home crowd and support and I knew he has had a couple of tough matches so he’d be feeling it so I didn’t want to give him any hope in the beginning.

“Then I took it for granted that it was going to go my way then he stepped it up and started playing really well. But I’m glad I managed to play the big moments better and pushed on in the third and got the win in three.

“I haven’t played Nicky in a very long time, it’s been many many years since we’ve played. He’s obviously playing very well, it’s not the first time he’s beaten Marwan and he’s been beating other good players, he’s in-form so I have to be very well prepared, I’m looking forward to a good match tomorrow its always clean so I’m sure were both going to enjoy it.”

Fiechter through in three

[1] Olivia Fiechter (Usa) 3-0 [9/16] Yathreb Adel (Egy)    11-9, 12-10, 11-7 (34m)

Women’s top seed Olivia Fiechter made her way through to the semi-finals with a straight games victory over Egypt’s surprise quarter finalist Yathreb Adel.

The USA No.2 didn’t have things all her own way however and was pushed hard by the Egyptian. Adel’s clean striking of the ball was forcing Fiechter away from the middle of the court, giving Adel chances to put the ball into the front two corners. The World No.11 managed to stay strong in the rallies and battle her way back into control and showed her fighting spirit to take a 2-0 lead winning 11-9, 12-10.

The work that Fiechter had put into Adel In the opening two games was starting to take its toll on the Egyptian. The American started to hit the space better on the court and errors started to come from the fading Adel. Despite the Egyptian saving two match balls, it wasn’t enough to deny the top seed her place in the semi-finals.

“Really relieved to get through that, it was neck and neck until the end. I think the last time I played Yathreb we were 16 years old and played at the World Juniors and she made light work of me pretty quickly so I was looking forward to our first match on PSA. As you could see any ball left in the middle or loose was punished pretty quickly and I struggled to find my targets a bit today but tried to hang in there so just happy it was good enough.

“Tesni is a great player we’ve played a few times and it’s always a very competitive match, she’s playing well and got through a tough one earlier, I know she’ll be feeling confident after beating Melissa  and I’m looking forward to a great match.”

Mueller downs Marwan to reach final four

[6] Nicolas Mueller (Sui) 3-1 [4] Marwan ElShorbagy (Egy)  11-3, 11-9, 10-12, 11-7 (41m)

Swiss No.1 Nicolas Mueller showcased some excellent squash to record another victory over fourth seed Marwan ElShorbagy to each the semi-finals in Kuala Lumpur.

Mueller steamrolled ElShorbagy in the first game and caught the Egyptian cold as he fired the ball in short with superb accuracy and pace, not giving the World No.6 any chance to get into the opening game. After winning 11-3 in the first game, ElShorbagy started to find his range at the back of the court and force Mueller backwards, where he his far less dangerous. Despite the better squash from ElShorbagy, Mueller earned the first game ball at 10-9 and took it at the first time of asking to double his lead.

Despite ElShorbagy battling back and taking the third game 12-10, it was all about the ‘Swiss Rocket’. Mueller went from strength to strength in the fourth game, finding winners from all over the court and maintaining his position on the ‘T’ for the majority of the game, making the game look very easy as he moved ElShorbagy from corner to corner. He closed out the game 11-7 to beat the Egyptian for the third time this year.

“I’m very happy I won that match. I’ve been here at least 15 times, I think the first time I was here was 15 years ago. I always feel very welcome, I like the court, the atmosphere and the food (most importantly) and the people are very nice, so I’m very glad to win that match.

“Addeen the home crowd favourite, has played two great matches, he’s won in four and in five against some good opponents, hopefully he can give Tarek a good run around later, for me I don’t care who it is as long as they spend a lot of time on court.”

Tesni squeezes into the semis

[3] Tesni Evans (Wal) 3-2 [6] Melissa Alves (Fra)   12-10, 10-12, 11-3, 6-11, 12-10 (70m)

An all-European battle between Wales’ Tesni Evans and France’s Melissa Alves went the way of the Welshwoman in a 70-minute thriller, going right down to the wire.

The first two games were extremely close with both players trying to find a solid length on the court and both seemed reluctant to attack too much to the front corners as they knew the quality that the other player possesses. Evans took the first game 12-10 before Alves levelled by the same scoreline.

Evans came out with a vengeance in the third game and started to express herself on the court, hitting into space to set up numerous attacking opportunities which she took with great style. After losing the third game 11-3, Alves managed to regroup in the fourth game and hit some incredible winners to force a fifth and final game, winning 11-6.

Alves dominated for large parts of the fifth game and ran out to a 7-4 lead, but back came the Welshwoman. Evans hung in the rallies and made it tough for the Frenchwoman to close out the match. The length hitting from the No.3 seeds improved and errors came from Alves’ racket to take Evans to 10-8 and hold 2 match balls. Despite Alves levelling, Evans was able to close out the game 12-10 and move into the semi-finals after 70 minutes of squash.

“That was really really hard. I don’t know how I won!

“I think I was outplayed for most of the fourth and fifth, she was playing way better than me. I was hitting a lot in the middle and she was just hitting better shots so, in the end, I just had to fight for every point and make it hard as hard as I could by making it hard physically and getting everything back and staying positive and just trying to see where it took me so I think I got away with a lucky one today that’s for sure.

“It was hard. At 10-8 was the first time I thought I could win this match and then all of a sudden it was 10-10 and then she gave me one where she hit it in the tin then I got more confident again but I was just trying to get everything back and make no errors and force errors from her.”

Hesham races past Rooney

[3] Mazen Hesham (Egy) 3-0 [8] Patrick Rooney (Eng)   11-5, 11-6, 11-3 (22m)

Egypt’s third seed Mazen Hesham cruised past an out-of-sorts No.8 seed Patrick Rooney to set up a semi-final against Joel Makin. Hesham was dominant throughout as the Englishman struggled with the Egyptian’s variety of pace and attacking flair, with Hesham needing just 22 minutes to beat Rooney 11-5, 11-6, 11-3.

 “I think I was lucky today to be honest. He usually plays so much better than this and has a lot to offer, but I think from yesterday, he he had a tough five-setter with Mohamed ElSherbini, which was good for me.

“He’s a tough customer and playing someone like him is a tough match and if it ends this way I’m happy. In the beginning, the ball was flying and I didn’t know where to put it. I had to be careful and move him deep and then attack.

“It’s going to be tough tomorrow against Makin. He doesn’t go away and it’s going to be tough for sure. I hope I can bring my A game tomorrow.”

Rachel recovers to reach semis

[8] Rachel Arnold (Mas) 3-1 [4] Nadine Shahin (Egy)   6-11, 11-1, 11-9, 11-9 (36m)

Malaysia’s eighth seed Rachel Arnold came from behind to get beat No.4 seed Nadine Shahin and progress to the semi-finals, where she will face Nele Gilis.

In an uneven match, Arnold – playing in her ninth Malaysian Open – fell behind after dropping the first game 11-6, only to come storming back in the second with a brutal 11-1 win. Both players went on scoring runs in the third game, with Arnold better able to manage the flow of the match with a hard-fought 11-9 win.

In the fourth game, which was briefly interrupted by a shoulder injury to Shahin, Arnold was able to complete the upset, with the 26-year-old recording another 11-9 win to proceed to the semi-finals for the first time since 2019.

“It feels great. It’s always been a close battle between me and Nadine and I’m really happy to get the win today. I think I came on a bit more aggressive after the first game. I started a bit slow and had to change it up.

“The last time I played Nele, I lost 3-0 so hopefully I can get closer tomorrow!”

Makin makes the semis

[2] Joel Makin (Wal) 3-0 [5] Miguel Rodriguez (Col)  11-8, 11-7, 14-12 (64m)

In the first men’s quarter-final, Welsh secons seed Joel Makin impressed as he dispatched fifthseed Miguel Rodriguez of Colombia in straight games.

Makin, playing in his third consecutive quarter-final on the tour this season, looked strong throughout, particularly on the backhand, as he effectively countered the attacking ambitions of Rodriguez.

After Makin took the first two games 11-8, 11-7, Rodriguez pushed hard in the third as the rallies grew longer. The Colombian had a game ball at 10-9, but was unable to convert as Makin forced a tie break. Both players then had game ball opportunities, until Makin eventually broke through to seal the match 14-12 on a stroke decision.

“That was hard! That’s the reason Miguel has been where he has in the Rankings. I was picking him off in the first and he changed his tactic again. When I was 2-0 up he changed his tactics again and increased the pace and took the ball early. He fought to the last point and made it difficult and that’s why he’s been at the top of the game for so long and still is at his age. I knew it was going to be hard. I know what to expect against those guys.

“I don’t hear people praising my drop shots that often! I was hitting short alright but he was changing the angles and mixing things up and it was hard to settle so I was happy to tidy up when I could.

“There’s some serious recovery to do now. It’s humid and tough conditions but I just sat back more today and got used to it.”

Nele knocks out defending champ Aifa

[2] Nele Gilis (Bel) 3-0 [5] Aifa Azman (Mas)  11-9, 11-4, 11-2 (32m)

In the day’s first match, Belgian second seed Nele Gilis was in confident form as she knocked out defending champion and Malaysian fifth seed Aifa Azman in straight games.

Gilis edged an even first game 11-9 before kicking on and dominating the second, which she won 11-4. Azman, who last year caused one of the shocks of the season when she won this event as a wildcard, was unable to produce an escape in the third game, with World No.14 Gilis cruising to victory with an 11-2 win.

“I’m very happy. I’ve never played her before but I’ve watched her a lot. She’s a very dangerous opponent and very tricky around the front of the court, so I was very focused form the first point and I tried to stay in my zone and stick to my gameplan as much as I could. I’m very happy with my performance today.

“I knew when I was up that I had to keep putting pressure on her because last week in Singapore she came back. She can hit winners from anywhere so I tried to stick to my gameplan.

“Tomorrow’s a different opponent and a different plan but I’m feeling good and loving the glass court here.”