Arnold & Tandon Gatecrash Malaysia Cup Semis
9 Nov 2023
Malaysia's Rachel Arnold and India's Ramit Tandon caused big upsets at the Ace Malaysia Squash Cup, ousting No.2 seed Farida Mohamed and No.3 seed Victor Crouin, respectively, to book their places in the semi-finals of the PSA World Tour Bronze event in Seremban.
Arnold is one of two remaining Malaysian players in the women's draw, earning her place in the semis following an 11-8, 9-11, 11-7, 11-5 victory at the S2 Sports Complex.
Despite being the lower-ranked player, Arnold had won both of her previous matches against Mohamed and kept a cool head as the Egyptian got more and more frustrated with some of the officiating decisions.
"I'm pleased with how I played," said Arnold afterwards.
"I was pretty patient with my length and I think that was a good thing. If I keep up my performance to the level I played in the last few days then I should be good [against Khafagy]."
Arnold will be the heavy favourite to reach the title decider when she comes up against unseeded Egyptian Malak Khafagy, who beat compatriot Kenzy Ayman to reach her first PSA World Tour Bronze semi-final.
"I'm extremely overwhelmed," Khafagy said.
"It's a lot to digest right now. It feels great, it's my first semi-final at such a big event. I didn't expect anything, I just came here to enjoy my game and to play the semi-finals tomorrow is so exciting.
"It would mean everything [to reach the final]. I've been working so hard and this is paying off right now. I'm very happy and excited."
The other women's semi-final will see top seed Nour El Tayeb line up against the other remaining Malaysian female, Sivasangari Subramaniam. El Tayeb put in a composed performance to oust 16-year-old Amina Orfi, while Subramaniam cruised past Hong Kong's Ka Yi Lee.
The Indian had never beaten Frenchman Crouin in three previous attempts on the PSA Tour but put in an impressive performance to overturn a 2/1 deficit, securing a 12-10, 4-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-6 victory to reach his first $50K semi-final since the 2017 JSW Indian Squash Circuit CCI International.
"I was just trying to play as well as I could, Victor is a solid player and he is one of those players that you really need to dig deep against to beat," Tandon said afterwards.
"It's important to believe in myself and hang in there with them [the world's best players]. Once I can start doing that I'll be able to put pressure on them and convert these wins. I've been close before, but I haven't really converted, so I think it's about keeping the fight going."
Tandon will take on Mostafa Asal after the top seed beat Indian veteran Saurav Ghosal in straight games, while No.4 seed Eain Yow Ng - the last Malaysian standing in the men's draw - dispatched Frenchman Sebastien Bonmalais to reach the semi-finals.
"I had the upper hand on the backhand side and was putting pressure on him," said Eain Yow.
"Physically not so much, but mentally. I kept him away from the 'T' and made sure he didn't get those easy volleys. I think I forced a few errors from his volley and I thought my length was really good today."