David Leads Domestic Charge In KL
15 Mar 2007
Malaysia's world number one Nicol David is single-handedly leading domestic interest in the CIMB Kuala Lumpur Open after her two compatriots Ong Beng Hee and Mohd Azlan Iskandar crashed out of today's quarter-finals of the men's event in Berjaya Times Square in the Malaysian capital.
David rounded off a full unbeaten year on the international circuit in perfect fashion by defeating Zealand's Shelley Kitchen - the last player to beat her, in March 2006, in the play-off for the bronze medal in the Commonwealth Games in Australia.
David's 9-3, 9-6, 9-4 victory in 38 minutes takes the 23-year-old from Penang into a repeat of last year's final against defending champion Vanessa Atkinson, whose surprise defeat of the Malaysian superstar last February was not the outcome the packed crowd had been expecting!
Dutch star Atkinson, the fourth seed who has not enjoyed the best of form since her 2006 KL success, had to fight back from 2/1 down to beat England's sixth seed Vicky Botwright 9-5, 9-10, 6-9, 9-3, 10-8 in 76 minutes.
It was an up-and-down match in which Atkinson led the second game 8-2 and squandered four game balls before losing it - then had match-ball at 7-8 down in the decider and hit an audacious winning boast before serving out to win!
"I have been losing a lot of close matches so I was really happy to have held it together mentally," said a joyful Atkinson afterwards. "It is good to make the last four in an event again!"
The other women's semi-final will renew the family battle between Australia's Grinham sisters. Natalie Grinham, the No2 seed, cruised to a 9-4, 9-4, 9-2 win in just 24 minutes over Egypt's eighth seed Omneya Abdel Kawy, while older sibling Rachael Grinham, the No3 seed, was stretched to four games by Tania Bailey before beating the fifth seed from England 9-6, 9-3, 1-9, 10-8 in 47 minutes.
It will be the sisters' 12th international clash since meeting for the first time in the KL Open final in February 2001 - with the current head-to-head tally between the pair being 8-4 in Rachael's favour.
Both Malaysians in the men's event battled for just short of an hour each before bowing out to higher-ranked opponents. Sixth seed Mohd Azlan Iskandar, the defending champion, took the first game against second seed Karim Darwish and forced the second into a tie-break - but it was the Egyptian who ultimately prevailed 8-11, 11-10 (5-3), 11-9, 11-8 to move into the semi-finals.
Fifth seed Ong Beng Hee, twice a runner-up in the event, faced top seed Nick Matthew. The Englishman, looking for his first PSA Tour title of 2007 after winning the British Open for the first time last year, recovered from losing the second game to beat Beng Hee 11-8, 8-11, 11-5, 11-10 (3-1) in 59 minutes.
 Nick Matthew (ENG) bt  Ong Beng Hee (MAS) 11-8, 8-11, 11-5, 11-10 (3-1) (59m)
 Mohammed Abbas (EGY) bt Aamir Atlas Khan (PAK) 11-5, 5-11, 11-7, 6-11, 11-3 (50m)
 Stewart Boswell (AUS) bt Alister Walker (ENG) 11-9, 11-7, 11-7 (42m)
 Karim Darwish (EGY) bt  Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS) 8-11, 11-10 (5-3), 11-9, 11-8 (58m)
 Nicol David (MAS) bt [Q] Shelley Kitchen (NZL) 9-3, 9-6, 9-4 (38m)
 Vanessa Atkinson (NED) bt  Vicky Botwright (ENG) 9-5, 9-10, 6-9, 9-3, 10-8 (76m)
 Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt  Tania Bailey (ENG) 9-6, 9-3, 1-9, 10-8 (47m)
 Natalie Grinham (AUS) bt  Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) 9-4, 9-4, 9-2 (24m)