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Malaysian underdogs gatecrash Asian Games semis

Against expectations, Malaysia are in line for a triple squash medal haul in the Asian Games in Indonesia after Nafiizwan Adnan and Sivasangari Subramaniam, both 5/8 seeds, pulled off major upsets in today’s quarter-finals at the Gelora Bung Karno Sports Complex in Jakarta to secure places in the semi-finals for the first time in their careers.

Subramaniam, a 19-year-old from Kedah, scored the biggest win of her career when she beat second seed Annie Au, the world No.11 from Hong Kong, 11-9, 11-13, 11-5, 3-11, 11-5.

“I still can’t believe that I’ve managed to produce a win over Annie,” said the jubilant Subramaniam (pictured above, left, in quarter-final action). “She’s the second seed in the tournament and ranked as high as number 11 in the world.

“I went on court just looking to play my best squash, which I did and I’m just so happy to get through to the semi-finals in my first Asian Games,” continued the teenager who recently won the Malaysian national title. “It’s really a big thing getting through into the top four but now I have to reset and focus again because I have another big match tomorrow.”

The player she will now face in a bid to reach the final is Joshna Chinappa, a 3/4 seed from India who needed four games to overcome Hong Kong left-hander Joey Chan 11-5, 12-10, 5-11, 12-10.

Adnan, who showed his potential only months ago in the Commonwealth Games in Australia when he won the bronze medal from the position of 12th seed, continued to defy the seeding in Jakarta by taking out Abdulla Al-Tamimi, a 3/4 seed. Ranked 12 places behind the Qatari, Adnan squandered a 2/0 lead before clinching his win 11-9, 12-10, 9-11, 5-11, 11-9 in exactly one hour.

“It was really a tough fight but it’s worth it because at least there will be a medal for Malaysia,” said the 32-year-old world No.40 (pictured above, right).

“I feel awesome and very glad to win today and contributing a medal to my beloved country, especially in this special “Merdeka” (independence) month. It was a tough match and now I am looking forward to a good rest this evening – and hopefully tomorrow, I’ll do even better than today.”

Adnan progresses to face Max Lee, the No.2 seed from Hong Kong who ended Kuwaiti interest in the event when he beat Ammar Altamimi 11-5, 11-4, 11-7.

Nicol David kept alive her hopes of a record fifth gold medal when she despatched one of the women’s game’s rising stars Satomi Watanabe, of Japan, 11-6, 11-4, 11-3.

“It’s great to be in the semi-finals and I’m very happy with the way I played,” said Nicol (pictured above, left), who now faces Indian rival Dipika Pallikal Karthik for a place in her sixth successive final.

Top men’s seed Saurav Ghosal, bidding to become the first Indian gold medallist in the event, had a tough quarter-final battle on his hands against fellow countryman Harinder Pal Sandhu. After dropping the opening game, the favourite regained control of the match to prevail 9-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-7 after 70 minutes.

The world No.12 from Kolkata (pictured above, right) now takes on Hong Kong’s Leo Au in a bid to reach the final for the second time in a row.

Men’s quarter-finals:
[1] Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt [5/8] Harinder Pal Sandhu (IND) 9-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-7 (70m)
[3/4] Leo Au (HKG) bt [5/8] Ivan Yuen (MAS) 11-2, 11-7, 11-4 (43m)
[5/8] Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) bt [3/4] Abdulla Al-Tamimi (QAT) 11-9, 12-10, 9-11, 5-11, 11-9 (60m)
[2] Max Lee (HKG) bt [5/8] Ammar Altamimi (KUW) 11-5, 11-4, 11-7

Women’s quarter-finals:
[1] Nicol David (MAS) bt [5/8] Satomi Watanabe (JPN) 11-6, 11-4, 11-3 (23m)
[3/4] Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND) bt [5/8] Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) 11-5, 11-6, 11-8 (23m)
[3/4] Joshna Chinappa (IND) bt [5/8] Joey Chan (HKG) 11-5, 12-10, 5-11, 12-10
[5/8] Sivasangari Subramaniam (MAS) bt [2] Annie Au (HKG) 11-9, 11-13, 11-5, 3-11, 11-5

Asian Games images courtesy of Aulia Dyan

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