Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Cilic to play in Malaysian Open

Croatian tennis star Marin Cilic is set to make his debut in the Malaysian Open ATP 250 from Sept 21-29 at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil despite being investigated for failing a dope test.
The world No. 18, who lost to world No. 2 Andy Murray in the final of the Queen’s Club Championships in London in June, reportedly failed a drug test last month and subsequently pulled out from the ongoing Montreal Masters.
But the 24-year-old Cilic, who claimed that he failed the test because of high glucose levels, has not been banned by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) or the ATP Tour. He is also set to compete in the US Open, which will be held from Aug 26-Sept 9.
“Cilic is being investigated for the failed dope test but he is not banned by the ITF or ATP ... he is free to enter and play in tournaments,” said Malaysian Open organisers IMG in a statement.
Apart from Cilic, the Malaysian Open can also boast having the likes of world No. 4 David Ferrer of Spain, world No. 9 Stanislas Wawrinka (Switzerland), world No. 15 Nicolas Almagro (Spain), defending champion Juan Monaco (Argentina) and former finalists Marcos Baghdatis (Cyprus) and Julien Bennetau (France).
Monaco is glad to be returning to Malaysia.
“You always want to go back to a place where you have done well, so I’m very happy to come back to KL ... this year, I’m bringing along my Davis Cup team-mates – Carlos Berlocq, Leonardo Mayer and Horacio Zeballos,” he said.
A fifth Argentine – Federico Delbonis – who stunned Swiss maestro Roger Federer in the German Open last month, will also be competing, taking up one of the special exempt slots.
“We are delighted that so many marquee names have decided to come to KL for the tournament’s fifth anniversary,” said tournament director Nick Freyer.
“In addition to the top names like Ferrer and Wawrinka, the likes of Almagro, Cilic, (Andreas) Seppi, (Vasek) Pospisil and Delbonis will make this tournament more exciting.” -

Malaysian Open attracts world class players

AS the US$984,300 Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur gears up for its 5th birthday and Visit Malaysia Year celebrations, the tournament, to be played at Putra Stadium, Kuala Lumpur from September 21 to 29, 2013, released its full entry list today.

The line-up is headed by two previously announced top-10 players – world No.4 and French Open finalist David Ferrer, and world No.9 Swiss, Stan Wawrinka. Among the field there are four players who have been either winners (Nikolay Davydenko and defending champion Juan Monaco) or finalists (Marcos Baghdatis and Julien Benneteau) at the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur.

Two top 20 stars have been added to the field.  They are Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, currently ranked 15, but who has spent most of the year in the top 10 and the big serving Croat Marin Cilic, ranked 18, who makes his KL debut. This year Cilic won the Zagreb event and was a finalist at The Queen’s Club, London.

“You always want to go back to a place where you have done well, so I am very happy about coming back to Kuala Lumpur and this year I bring four of my Davis Cup team mates,” said Monaco. “Last year was my first time in Malaysia and I liked it very much, and I won the tournament. I hope it can happen again.”

Italian Andreas Seppi (#21) is enjoying a strong season as part of the resurgence of Italian tennis, Austrian Jurgen Melzer will be playing the tournament for the third straight year, having been a quarter-finalist in 2011, and the giant killing Argentine Federico Delbonis is a new and exciting name to look out for – he recently upset Roger Federer as did another one of the tournament’s entrants, Germany’s Daniel Brands. Delbonis is currently next in on the entry list and would take one of the Special Exempt slots.

The full entry list is included.  The singles main draw features 28 players. There are 19 direct acceptances, three wild cards and four qualifiers. Two “special exempts” slots are held until the week before and can be used, if necessary, for KL qualifying draw players, who have reached the last rounds of the main draw of an ATP World Tour tournament the previous week – otherwise the next two players on the list receive a direct entry.

“We are delighted that so many marquee names have decided to come to KL to celebrate our fifth birthday,” said Tournament Director Nick Freyer, of organisers IMG. “In addition to the previously announced top 10 marquee players, stars of the future and previous finalists, we now welcome three additional top 21 players in Nicolas Almagro, Marin Cilic and Andreas Seppi, plus a host of exciting others that include Jurgen Melzer, Vasek Pospisil, Dimitry Tursunov, and giant killer Federico Delbonis – an exciting field worthy of our celebrations.

Two singles main draw wild cards have been awarded to Wimbledon junior finalist Hyeon Chung of South Korea and Carreno, who also received a wild card into the doubles, where he pairs with budding countryman Roberto Carballes, who received a singles qualifying wild card.

One main draw singles wild card and one doubles pair wild card remain to be confirmed, with the names of the three qualifying wild cards for local players to be announced in conjunction with the Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia, in early September.   .

Tickets prices remain very reasonable and range from RM 10 to RM 120, and there will be free admission between Saturday, September 21 and Tuesday, September 24.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Perfect birthday gift for Yussyazlin

IT turned to be the proudest day for Yussyazlin Nabila Yusri as she celebrated her 15th birthday along with mother Osmarina Othman, who turned 41 yesterday, by acing a double in the National Circuit second leg at the National Tennis Centre in Kuala Lumpur.
Yussyazlin, the top seed, defeated second seed Alyssa Boey 6-4, 6-2 to win her first ever women's singles title on the circuit before she and Nurin Nabila Roslan overcame Suhana Sofea-Loo Pei Shi 6-2, 6-1 in the doubles final.
"I was motivated today (yesterday). It is always special to achieve something on your birthday. This is my best ever gift for me and my mother," said Yussyazlin yesterday.
Yussyazlin earned RM1,200 for the singles win and RM300 (RM600 per pair) in the doubles.
World No 248 Christopher Rungkat of Indonesia blanked compatriot Elbert Sie 6-2, 6-2 in the men's final. It was his second title on the circuit.
Christopher-Elbert edged Syed Agil Syed Naguib-Ashaari Zainal 4-6, 6-0, 10-6 in the doubles final.
The circuit continues with the third leg on May 31-June 4.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Kai Chen is the first

A MATCH weary Chang Kai Chen of Taiwan became the first player to successfully defend a title at the WTA BMW Malaysian Open.
She and Shuko Aoyama of Japan sealed a dramatic 6-7 (7-4), 7-6 (7-4), 14-12 win over top seeds Janette Husarova of Slovakia and China's Zhang Shuai in the women's doubles final at Royal Selangor Golf Club in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Husarova and Zhang Shuai won the first set which saw both pairs exchange breaks on four occasions. They carried their form into the second set and were quick to break their second-seeded opponents in only the second game.
Kai Chen and Shuko, however, regained their momentum and broke back in the seventh game until a hip injury forced Kai Chen to receive medical treatment before the start of the eighth game. She also called for the trainer on another two times in the latter stages of the match.
Husarova and Zhang Shuai had a match point in the 12th game but could not seal the match. They were later made to rue the missed opportunity when their opponents took the second set on tie-break.
Kai Chen and Shuko needed four match points before they could seal a 14-12 win in the decider.
Kai Chen said she was delighted to take the title after a tough week of matches in Kuala Lumpur.
"This is a great win for us. We have had a tough week of matches and I am very happy we managed to come through. It was also mentally tough and I was hurting really badly (due to injury)," said Kai Chen.
"We were down a lot of times but we never gave up and never lost belief in ourselves. We needed a lot of match points in the (deciding) tiebreak and we tried to motivate each other to finish off the match."
The 22-year-old, who took the title with compatriot Chuang Chia Jung last year, said she will definitely be back next year. The title is her second with Shuko, after the pair also won in Washington last year, and her fourth WTA title overall.
Kai Chen and Aoyama received US$11,500 (RM34,025) for their victory while Husarova and Zhang Shuai took home US$6,000 (RM18,559).

Karolina grabs title

LTAM president Tan Sri Abdul Razak Latiff (right) and BMW CEO Dr Gerhard Pils present the trophy and mock cheque to Karolina Pliskova after winning the BMW Malaysian Open singles title yesterday. Pic by Goh Thean Howe

CZECH Karolina Pliskova has finally made her presence felt on the WTA Tour.

The unseeded Karolina, who had never been beyond the quarter-finals of a tour event, bounced back from a first set blemish to overcome American wildcard Bethanie Mattek-Sands 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 in the singles final of the WTA BMW Malaysian Open yesterday.

"I am delighted to win my first career title in Kuala Lumpur. I must thank my mother, Martina, for urging me on after I lost the first set badly," said Karolina at Royal Selangor Golf Club yesterday.

"I play a lot of doubles but now I love singles more. Bethanie was playing much better than me in the opening set as she was retrieving my serves well. However, I served a lot better in the second and went on to win the title."

The win will definitely give a huge boost to Karolina's tennis career. A former Australian Open junior champion, the World No 127 has been struggling to make a perfect transition from junior to senior tennis on the tour since turning professional in 2009.

Karolina, ranked ninth in the Czech Republic, turns 21 with her twin sister, Kristyna, on March 21 and her 200th win as a professional yesterday will be a perfect impending gift for the youngster.

The right-handed player, however, failed to gain a good start in the opening set as she had no answer to Bethanie's efficient play and was broken three times. Bethanie won it in only 23 minutes.

However, Karolina, a winner of nine ITF singles titles, played aggressively in the second and both players held serve before the Czech broke the 12th game to level proceedings.

The third set was halted for 40 minutes at 1-1 due to the rain before play resumed with Karolina immediately hitting the right chord to break Bethanie in the sixth game before sealing the match with an ace to claim victory in 106 minutes.

The aggressive Karolina was dominant, firing 10 aces and hitting 78 winners. She won 67 per cent of points behind her first serve compared to Bethanie's 57 per cent.

Karolina earned her biggest cheque of US$40,000 (RM124,000) while Bethanie, who appeared in three finals before, received US$20,000 (RM62,000). She is projected to surpass her career-high ranking of 107 after this win.

Bethanie said: "I won the first set but in the second, she started serving well and I couldn't break her. I am very happy with the way I played this week."

The Malaysian Open is quickly gaining reputation as a tournament for upcoming players to win their first tour title.

It has produced three first-time winners, also comprising Russian Alisa Kleybanova, who won in 2010 and Taiwanese Hsieh Su Wei last year, in four editions.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Aslina leads team to sixth place

 NATIONAL champion Aslina Chua led the national Fed Cup team to a sixth place finish on their return to the Asia/Oceania Group II competition which ended on Sunday in Astana, Kazakhstan.
   The team, also comprising S. Theiviya, Alyssa Boey and Nurin Nabila Roslan, notched wins over Kyrgyzstan (2-1) Pakistan (3-0) and Iran (3-0) but lost to Indonesia (3-0) and the Philippines (3-0) to finish third in Group B.
   In the play-off match for fifth position, Malaysia were thrashed 3-0 by Vietnam, led by Huynh Trang Phuong Dai.
   Aslina and Theiviya were the team’s best performers, winning three of their six respective matches each.
   Indonesia beat Hong Kong 2-0 to win the competition and promotion to Group I next year.
   Malaysia last played in the Fed Cup, hosted in Kuala Lumpur, in 2010 where the team, led by former World No 329 Khoo Chin Bee, finished fourth.

Double blow dampens states’ enthusiasm to develop tennis

KUALA LUMPUR: Tennis is an Olympic sport, offers lucrative prize money and is hugely popular globally.
In Malaysia though, the sport is being completely ignored. It has not been selected as a programme in the Malaysia Games (Sukma) in Bukit Jalil from June 28-July 7.
The sport also suffered a double disappointment when it was recently dropped from this year’s SEA Games in Myanmar.
And a frustrated Johnson Koh, the Sabah Tennis Association (SBA) president, feels that the double blow has dampened the enthusiasm shown by the various states to develop the sport.
“Most of us at the state level are very frustrated with this. We’ve put in so much effort to groom the youngsters, who have trained hard and were looking forward to these Games. But now, we do not have a competitive platform to gauge their standards,” he said.
“Sukma is held on alternate years. States hold it one year and Putrajaya the other. We were made to understand that if the states do not choose tennis, it will then be hosted in Putrajaya. Unfor­tunately, it was not hosted last year (in Malacca) and it is not in this year’s programme either.
“How are we to convince parents to encourage their young ones to take up the sport when they have nothing to look forward to. The national body (LTAM) have their age-group tournament but we are short of competitive tournaments.”
He was also disappointed that the national players have now also lost another platform to gauge themselves following Myanmar’s decision to drop the sport at the biennial Games this year.
“This is sad. For a sport that is so popular worldwide, it doesn’t get much of a chance here in Malaysia or this region. I hope our local authority will review their decision and give these aspiring youngsters a break ... give them a shot to make tennis a career,” said Johnson, who is also an exco member of LTAM.-