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22 Feb 2024

Malaysians Ng & Azman Win Five-Game Upsets In Singapore Open Openers

15 Nov 2022

Malaysians Eain Yow Ng and Aifa Azman got the better of higher-ranked opposition on the opening day of the MARIGOLD Singapore Open, with both winning in five games to move through to the second round of the PSA World Tour Gold level event at the OCBC Arena in Singapore.

Unseeded Ng took on world No.16 Saurav Ghosal, and it was an incredible match, lasting an hour and a half. Both men saved game balls in the opening game, but it was eventually the Indian No.1 that took it 14-12 to hold the advantage.

The second was much more straightforward for Ng, as he won six straight points at the back end of it to level the match. However, Ghosal fought back once more, and took the lead in the match again thanks to some great attacking squash into the front of the court in the third.

The Malaysian requested a new ball for the start of the fourth game, and it eventually paid off, but he had to save two match balls. He was 10-8 down, but fought back to come through and take the fourth 14-12, before then dropping just a single point in the fifth and final game. Ng will now take on top seed Paul Coll, the world No.2, on Wednesday.

"I was a little bit disappointed with myself in the first game, I was in a position to win it. We played a couple of weeks ago at the Asian Team Championships, and something similar happened in the first game," the Malaysian explained.

"In the third and fourth games, I lost a little bit of focus, and at match ball down, I knew I had to keep fighting, I had nothing to lose and to be honest, I am not really sure what happened at the end of the fourth. I just kept fighting and just kept running. I was really edgy when he hit a high volley drop and I just tinned it. Luckily, I was slightly stronger physically in the fifth game.

"I just want to say that playing in Singapore is like playing back home. It has been a lot time since I have played back home. The Singaporean crowd has been great, and my parents are here as well, which is also great! My dad always watches every match overseas so it's amazing to have him here. The crowd has been great, that definitely helped today! I am looking forward to putting on a good show against Paul tomorrow!"

Compatriot Aifa Azman, currently the world No.24, took on the USA's Olivia Clyne, who sits four places above her in the World Rankings. After a quick start from the young Malaysian, the first game was tight, with Clyne fighting back. However, Azman won the last three points to secure an 11-8 win, and to move into the lead in the contest. The second game followed a similar pattern, but this time, it was Clyne who snuck through, winning it 11-9 to level the contest.

The Malaysian came out fighting again in the third, and she then went match ball up in the fourth game as well. The American saved three match balls, and also spurned a couple of game balls herself, before taking a tie-break win 15-13. However, Azman played some incredible stuff in the last game, winning the first ten point to almost guarantee the win. Clyne saved two more match balls, but the world No.24 won it 11-2 to set up a clash with world No.6 Nour El Tayeb.

"I am very excited to win this match! I didn't do well in the US Open. I am very happy to win against Olivia, it's always a tough match!" Azman said.

"I am very happy to have come back in the fifth 11-2. I think my tactic are getting much better! This is amazing, I have never been to Singapore before, only transited in the airport. I am very happy to play here!

"I played her [El Tayeb] in the World Championships, and she is a top player. I am looking forward to play against her, but this time with a better gameplan so I can give more of a fight against her than I did last time!"

Elsewhere, Swiss No.1 Nicolas Mueller and England's Patrick Rooney also had to go the distance in their opening round encounters. The world No.14 got the better of the USA's Shahjahan Khan, while the Englishman defeated India's Ramit Tandon.

All three Singaporeans in action on the first day of the tournament bowed out of the competition. Samuel Kang lost out to German No.1 Raphael Kandra in the last match of the day, while Leia Lee Zi Fang and Au Yeong Wai Yhann were defeated by Wales' Emily Whitlock and Canada's Hollie Naughton.