English star Lisa Aitken draws Malaysian queen

Kuala lumpur – Malaysia, Sept 10, 2013: Lisa Aitken celebrated her maiden appearance in English colours today by beating Australian Melody Francis in straight games in the qualifying finals of the CIMB Malaysian Open Squash Championships in Kuala Lumpur.

But the former Scottish international was then drawn to meet Malaysia’s ‘Queen of Squash’ Nicol David – the world number one who is seeded to reach the final of the third WSA World Series event of the year for the 11th year in a row, and win the title for a record eighth time!

Harrogate-based Aitken, the 23-year-old world No43, became the lowest-ranked player to qualify after her 22-minute 11-6, 11-6, 11-2 win over Francis, ranked just five places lower.

David, competing in her first Tour event since reaching her 30th birthday, will be eager to make amends for the shock defeat in her country’s biggest tournament in last year’s final. The record seven-time world champion from Penang is expected to meet Laura Massaro, the second seed from England, in Sunday’s final at the Curve Shopping Mall in Petaling Jaya in Selangor.

Massaro opens her 2013 campaign against US qualifier Latasha Khan, the indefatigable 40-year-old world No 30 from Seattle who ousted local hope Zulhijjah Binti Azan 11-9, 11-2, 11-7 in 25 minutes.

Egypt’s reigning champion Raneem El Weleily is the event’s third seed – positioned in Massaro’s half of the draw – and takes on Indian number two Joshana Chinappa in the first round.

Guyana’s Nicolette Fernandes will make her debut in the championship after despatching Malaysian Teh Min Jie 11-9, 11-7, 7-11, 11-0 in today’s qualifying finals. Now celebrating a career-high world No23 ranking, Fernandes faces Australia’s 15th seed Donna Urquhart.

Local hopes in the main draw were boosted when Delia Arnold survived the qualifiers in an 11-6, 10-12, 11-5, 11-4 defeat of Hong Kong’s Liu Tsz-Ling. The KL-born 27-year-old, celebrating her fifth appearance in the main draw since 2008, will take on Australia’s No9 seed Kasey Brown.

Qualifiers also emerged from Japan, South Africa and Egypt – in addition to a second from England in the shape of Emma Beddoes, who beat Hong Kong’s Tong Tsz-Wing 11-9, 11-3, 11-7.

Misaki Kobayashi became the sole Japanese representative in the main draw after defeating local junior Nazihah Hanis 11-2, 11-7, 11-3 – while Siyoli Waters also carried a lone flag for South Africa after seeing off Malaysia’s Sivasangari Subramaniam 11-9, 11-4, 11-7.

And Heba El Torky boosted the Egyptian count in the event to four when she overcame New Zealander Megan Craig 11-2, 12-10, 4-11, 11-7.

Updated CIMB Malaysian Open 1st round draw:

[1] Nicol David (MAS) v [Q] Lisa Aitken (ENG)

[11] Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) v Nour El Tayeb (EGY)

[9] Kasey Brown (AUS) v [Q] Delia Arnold (MAS)

[6] Low Wee Wern (MAS) v Emily Whitlock (ENG)

[4] Alison Waters (ENG) v [Q] Heba El Torky (EGY)

[10] Camille Serme (FRA) v [Q] Emma Beddoes (ENG)

[16] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v [Q] Misaki Kobayashi (JPN)

[8] Madeline Perry (IRL) v Joey Chan (HKG)

[7] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) v Line Hansen (DEN)

[14] Rachael Grinham (AUS) v Sarah Kippax (ENG)

[13] Dipika Pallikal (IND) v Aisling Blake (IRL)

[3] Raneem El Weleily (EGY) v Joshana Chinappa (IND)

[5] Joelle King (NZL) v [Q] Siyoli Waters (RSA)

[12] Annie Au (HKG) v [WC] Rachel Arnold (MAS)

[15] Donna Urquhart (AUS) v [Q] Nicolette Fernandes (GUY)

[2] Laura Massaro (ENG) v [Q] Latasha Khan (USA)

RESULTS: CIMB Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Qualifying finals:

Nicolette Fernandes (GUY) bt Teh Min Jie (MAS) 11-9, 11-7, 7-11, 11-0 (34m)

Lisa Aitken (ENG) bt Melody Francis (AUS) 11-6, 11-6, 11-2 (22m)

Delia Arnold (MAS) bt Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) 11-6, 10-12, 11-5, 11-4 (42m)

Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) bt Nazihah Hanis (MAS) 11-2, 11-7, 11-3 (18m)

Heba El Torky (EGY) bt Megan Craig (NZL) 11-2, 12-10, 4-11, 11-7 (49m)

Emma Beddoes (ENG) bt Tong Tsz-Wing (HKG) 11-9, 11-3, 11-7 (35m)

Siyoli Waters (RSA) bt Sivasangari Subramaniam (MAS) 11-9, 11-4, 11-7 (26m)

Latasha Khan (USA) bt Zulhijjah Binti Azan (MAS) 11-9, 11-2, 11-7 (25m)

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