Malaysia Stun Top Seeds India To Make Historic Doubles Semi
6 Aug 2022
Malaysia enjoyed a spectacular day at the University of Birmingham Squash Centre as their two women's doubles teams stunned the top seeds and 3/4 seeds to reach the semi-finals of the Commonwealth Games for the first time in the country's history.
5/8 women's doubles seeds Rachel Arnold and Aifa Azman had already recorded one of the results of the round - when they ended Malaysia's run of three consecutive quarter-final exits to become the nation's first women's doubles team to reach the Games' last four with an impressive 2/1 win over Australian 3/4 seeds Rachael Grinham and Donna Lobban - before their compatriots Ainaa Amani and Chan Yiwen captured the headlines with a 2/0 win over Indian top seeds Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal Karthik.
There were signs of a shock result brewing when Amani and Yiwen stormed into the lead with an 11-2 victory in game one, with the reigning World Champions unable to cope with the determined defence of the Malaysians.
The second game was a stop-start affair, with the Indians becoming frustrated at both their opponents and the referee. After falling 6-3 behind, India appeared to be building momentum and clawed their way back to just 8-7 down. From here, though, the Malaysians dug in impressively and ground out a huge upset with an 11-7 win.
"I'm still in shock," Yiwen said afterwards.
"We just wanted to enjoy the Games because it's our first outing at a Commonwealth Games and we didn't expect to go this far. We just hoped that we could continue the momentum and we went out there without any pressure.
"Everyone in the Malaysia squad is in very high in spirits now. It's good to have two Malaysian teams together to motivate each other and hopefully we can meet in the final. We saw [Arnold and Azman] play in the first session and that really pumped us up!"
There was more home joy in the mixed doubles when Alison Waters returned to action alongside Adrian Waller, as the No.2 seeds recovered from a troubled start to beat Welsh 5/8 seeds Tesni Evans and Joel Makin in an entertaining match and reach the semi-finals.
The English pair were second best in the first game, which they lost 11-4, but managed to rally to a 2/1 victory with 11-8, 11-5 wins in the final two games.
"The first game, we were under the cosh. I'm really proud that we came out with a different plan and [in the third game] we played as well as we could do out there," Waters said.
The English duo will face defending champions Donna Lobban and Cameron Pilley of Australia in the semi-finals, after they too came from a game down to overcome Lobban's husband, Greg, and Lisa Aitken.
"We won't be signing any divorce papers after today. We're still all right," Donna Lobban joked afterwards.
The other mixed doubles semi-final will be contested by Indian top seeds Dipika Pallikal Karthik and Saurav Ghosal, who beat Australia's Rachael Grinham and Zac Alexander 2/0, and New Zealand's Joelle King and Paul Coll, who overcame Scotland's Georgia Adderley and Rory Stewart by the same margin.
In the men's second round, Indian 9/16 seeds Velavan Senthilkumar and Abhay Singh saved three match balls as they fought from one game down to upset 3/4 seeds Alan Clyne and Douglas Kempsell of Scotland.
The Indian pair looked down and out when they lost the first game 11-8 and trailed 10-8 in the second, but were able to stay ice cold as they levelled the tie with an 11-10 and then powered on to an 11-8 win in the third.
Afterwards, Singh said: "It was a good fight from me and my partner, we've grown up together for 15 years."
Elsewhere in the men's doubles, Canada's 9/16 seeds David Baillargeon and Nick Sachvie upset Welsh 5/8 seeds Peter Creed and Emyr Evans; defending champion Zac Alexander combined with Ryan Cuskelly to beat Jamaica's Christopher Binnie and Julian Morrison; and England's top seeds Declan James and James Willstrop overpowered Malta's Niall Engerer and Kijan Sultana in 13 minutes.
The mixed doubles semi-finals and men's doubles quarter-finals will be played on Saturday from 12:00 (GMT+1), while the women's doubles semi-finals will be played from 12:00 on Sunday, ahead of the mixed doubles medal matches.