Qualifiers Joey Chan and Gregoire Marche led a flurry of upsets in today’s first round of the CIMB KL Open Squash Championships in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur. The established international Tour event is celebrating its sixth successive year sponsored by CIMB.
Joey Chan, the lowest-ranked player in the women’s WISPA World Tour Gold event, produced a sensational performance to oust Egypt’s fourth seed Omneya Abdel Kawy 11-5, 12-10, 11-7 in just 32 minutes.
The fast-rising 22-year-old, ranked 29 in the world, will now face Madeline Perry, the seventh seed from Ireland who battled for 72 minutes to overcome Mexican qualifier Samantha Teran 15-17, 11-4, 11-8, 11-6.
Incredibly, all but three of the women’s first round matches took an hour or more to resolve: Fifth seed Rachael Grinham, the 2001 champion from Australia, took 70 minutes to overcome unseeded Malaysian Low Wee Wern11-5, 11-4, 6-11, 9-11, 11-6 – equalling the time it took France’s No8 seed Camille Serme to beat another Malaysian Delia Arnold, a qualifier, 7-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-7.
It was a hugely disappointed second seed Jenny Duncalf, from England, who was forced to withdraw from the tournament as a result of a groin strain sustained in last week’s World Cup in India.
Egypt’s Heba El Torky stepped into the breach as ‘lucky loser’ – and immediately stretched world No11 Annie Auto five games before the 22-year-old from Hong Kong prevailed 10-12, 11-1, 11-6, 8-11, 11-3.
A day after making history by being voted ‘Malaysian Sportswoman of the Year’ for a record eighth year, Nicol David successfully began the defence of her title with an 11-8, 11-8, 11-8 win over English qualifier Sarah Kippax.
The world number one from Penang is seeded to reach the final for the eighth year in a row – and win the title for the seventh time since 2000.
Frenchman Gregoire Marche pulled off the biggest upset in the men’s PSA World Tour International 50 event. The world No72 from Aix-en-Provence – again, the lowest-ranked player in the draw – ousted Australia’s third seed Cameron Pilley 14-12, 11-8, 11-1 in a 50-minute clash.
The 21-year-old goes on to face Stephen Coppinger after the South African also upset the form book by beating Egypt’s former world No13 Mohammed Abbas 10-12, 11-3, 13-15, 11-5, 11-8.
Malaysian interest in the event is shared between Mohd Azlan Iskandar and Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan. KL-based fourth seed Iskandar, winner of the title in 2003 and 2006, was handed a passage through to the last eight after his Pakistan opponent Farhan Mehboob retired injured with the score in the first game standing at 9-9.
Unseeded Adnan, also from Kuala Lumpur, celebrated his first quarter-final appearance in the event at his third attempt after overcoming Egyptian qualifier Ali Farag 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9.
Adnan, the world No47, takes on Egypt’s second seed Mohamed El Shorbagy, while Iskandar, the new world No10, faces unseeded Pakistani Aamir Atlas Khan.
Top seed Karim Darwish had to fight back from a game down to beat Germany’s Simon Rosner 12-14, 11-5, 11-8, 11-6. The world No3 from Cairo, runner-up in 2010, will now line up against India’s Saurav Ghosal for a place in the semi-finals.
Women’s 1st round: Nicol David (MAS) bt [Q] Sarah Kippax (ENG) 11-8, 11-8, 11-8 (39m)
 Kasey Brown (AUS) bt Laura Massaro (ENG) 11-8, 7-11, 11-9, 15-13 (65m)
 Alison Waters (ENG) bt Raneem El Weleily (EGY) 11-6, 13-11, 11-9 (35m)
 Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt Low Wee Wern (MAS) 11-5, 11-4, 6-11, 9-11, 11-6 (70m)
 Madeline Perry (IRL) bt [Q] Samantha Teran (MEX) 15-17, 11-4, 11-8, 11-6 (72m)
[Q] Joey Chan (HKG) bt  Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) 11-5, 12-10, 11-7 (32m)
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt [Q] Delia Arnold (MAS) 7-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-7 (70m)
Annie Au (HKG) bt Heba El Torky (EGY) 10-12, 11-1, 11-6, 8-11, 11-3 (60m)
Men’s 1st round: Karim Darwish (EGY) bt Simon Rosner (GER) 12-14, 11-5, 11-8, 11-6 (45m)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt Ong Beng Hee (MAS) 11-8, 4-11, 11-6, 11-6 (54m)
Stephen Coppinger (RSA) bt Mohammed Abbas (EGY) 10-12, 11-3, 13-15, 11-5, 11-8 (72m)
[Q] Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt  Cameron Pilley (AUS) 14-12, 11-8, 11-1 (50m)
 Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS) bt Farhan Mehboob (PAK) 9-9 ret.
Aamir Atlas Khan (PAK) bt [Q] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 13-11, 11-2, 11-5 (37m)
Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) bt [Q] Ali Farag (EGY) 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9 (62m)
 Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) bt [Q] Aaron Frankcomb (AUS) 11-5, 11-8, 11-7 (50m)