Saturday, 31 March 2012

Swee Lee Challenge Cup needs a revamp

THE Penang Lawn Tennis Association (PLTA) received only nine entries for its annual Swee Lee Challenge Cup, which incepted in 1948.
The Challenge Cup, which is Penang’s oldest tennis, used to draw record entries but of late, it has failed to attract neither teams nor fans.
PLTA set a limit of 16 entries for the recent edition but only nine teams were registered.
Despite the poor response, fans were treated with some exciting tennis at the Penang Sports Club Tennis Complex in Jalan Utama.
The Penang Sports Club Red (PSCR) won the title for third successive time by edging 34-time champions Chinese Recreation Club Dragons 2-1(CRCD) in the final.
CRCD took the lead through Pang Zi Yang-Aaron Low, who defeated Luke Leighton-Bryant Thor 6-3, 5-4.
Andrew Tijo-Mahesh leveled proceedings for PSCR by thrashing Jason Khoo-SK Tan 6-1, 6-1 before Tan Nian Yang-Jesril Jamel defeated Johnson Ooi-Tan Kian Tat 7-6, 6-2 for the winning point


Championship Cup
S-Finals — Penang Sports Club Red 3 Francis Su Tennis Services Team 0; Chinese Recreation Club Dragons 2 Bukit Mertajam Mertajam Tennis Club 1.
Final — Penang Sports Club Red 2 Chinese Recreation Club Dragons 1.

S-Finals— Chinese Recreation Club Tigers 2 Penang Sports Club Black 1; Bukit Mertajam Tennis Club 2 Penang Sports Club Yellow 1.
Final: Chinese Recreation Cl ub Tigers 2 Bukit Mertajam Tennis Club 1.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Double joy for Lyn Yuen

CHOO Lyn Yuen captured the women’s singles and doubles titles in the second leg of the National Tennis Circuit in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Lyn Yuen, the second seed, upset topseed Jawairiah Noordin 6-0, 6-1 in the women’s singles final.
Jawairiah was not at her best as she played witha wrist injury.
In the doubles final, Lyn Yuen-Ti Jia Wei edged Alyssa Boey-Aslina Chua 7-5, 4-6, 10-5.
Si Yew Ming, meanwhile, captured his first title of the season by overcoming surprise finalist Abdul Hazli Zainuddin 6-4, 6-4 in the men’s final.
Hazli, the third seed, upset the odds in Tuesday’s semi-finals when he edged topseed Elyaas Deen Hishaam 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 while Yew Ming defeated Ahmad Deedat Razak 6-4, 6-4.
In the doubles final, Hazli-Ahmad Deedat battled past Ashaari Zainal-Syed Agil Syed Naguib 6-4, 6-3.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Memorable double for Hao Sheng

From left: Foo Sherwin, Koay Hao Sheng, Aulana Shevita and Kaaviya Balasubramaniam, the Boys' and Girls' Under-14 doubles champions respectively of the 2nd Penang Asian Under-14 championships yesterday. Pic by K. Kandiah
KOAY Hao Sheng was Malaysia's saviour in the Penang Asian Under-14 tennis championships yesterday, clinching the singles title and then partnering Singaporean Foo Sherwin for the doubles crown.
Hao Sheng, who is ranked ninth by the Asian Tennis Federation, defeated Taiwan's Yu Hua-Chen 6-3, 6-3 at the Penang Sports Club Tennis Complex in George Town.
The Perlis lad, who won back-to-back titles at the Penang Open International Junior age-group championships and the Perlis Open International Junior age-group championship in Nov, was in his element as he made short work of his opponent.
Hao Sheng later partnered Sherwin to thrash the Malaysian pair of Talhah Mohamad Rahiz- Sheikh Ameer Sheikh Ahmad 6-2, 6-2.
The 14-year-old SMK Derma student said it was the first time he had partnered Sherwin, which only happened after a request from the latter via Facebook.
"I am really happy as I have never won an ATF title, although I won both the singles and doubles titles at the International Tennis Federation Group 2 championship in Vietnam earlier this year."

RESULTS (all finals) -- Boys Singles: Koay Hao Sheng (Mas) bt Yu Hua-Chen (Tai) 6-3, 6-3; Doubles: Koay Hao Sheng-Foo Sherwin (Mas-Sin) bt Talhah Mohamad Rahiz-Sheikh Ameer Sheikh Ahmad (Mas) 6-2, 6-2; Girls Singles: Cho I-Hsuan (Tai) bt Aulana Shevita (Ina) 6-0, 6-2; Doubles: Kaaviya Balasubramaniam-Aulana Shevita (Ind-Ina) bt Shamira Azzahra Shamira-Shafira Irania (Ina) 6-4, 6-3. By K. Kandiah

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Raw Deal

Delizavernne Kaur is a forgotten name in local tennis. Despite ending last season as Asia’s No 1 in the 14-and-Under category, the youngster has not been given due recognition for her efforts.
The Form Three student of SMK Sri Aman received a few calls from the National Sports Institute (NSI), for a meeting with its director Datuk Dr Ramlan Aziz following the exclusive story, which appeared in Timesports last year.
Days became months and so far her father Bhoopinder Singh is still waiting for the appointment.
“It is dumbfounding…they were so interested to meet my daughter but since then, we have not heard from Mr. Hamdan, the NSI rep,” said the disappointed Bhoopinder.
“Perhaps, someone has sabotage matters. If this is true, then please become a man and meet me.”
She topped the rankings without the help of a professional coach. Her non-playing tennis father, Bhoopindar, a businessman, has been coaching her since she first picked up the racquet six years ago.
The youngster is in her first season on the ITF Under-18 circuit but results have not been encouraging.
“I do not have targets for her as it is only her first season on the tour. It is only for exposure. I believe she will show results from next year,” said Bhoopinder.
It is dumbfounding that a young talent, who has proved herself in Asian-level Under-14 tournaments, has been left uncared and unattended.
Local tennis is not all bed of roses.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Hao Sheng and Yus, the top seeds

MALAYSIA's Koay Hao Sheng and Yus Syazlin Nabila Yusri are the boys’ and girls’ top seeds respectively in the 2nd Penang-Asian Under-14 Series Tennis Championship 2012 which starts at the Penang Sports Club tennis complex on March 20.
The competition is organised by the Penang Lawn Tennis Association (PLTA) with the cooperation of the Malaysian Lawn Tennis Association, the state government and the state sports council.
The Penang Sports Club is the venue sponsor. Hao Sheng is ranked No 1 at Under-14 and No 9 at Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) level while Yus Syazlin Nabila is the top Under-14 girl player and ranked third at the ATF level.
Yus Syazlin Nabila won the Girls' Under-14 singles title at the inaugural championship in Penang last year and is now looking forward to retaining her title before moving up into the higher age-group level next year.
Delizavernne Kaur, last year's losing finalist, was the best ever Malaysian at the ATF ranking list when she ended 2011 as the No 1 ranked player at sian level.
Meanwhile, tournament director Francis Su said apart from Malaysia, the other countries who will be competing are Singapore, the Philippines, the US, Indonesia, India, Taiwan and Switzerland.
“This competition is an opportunity for our local players to score ATF (Asian Tennis Federation) points for their age-group ranking which will enable them to play in the main draw at other ATF circuit competitions,” said Francis.
“If these youngsters don't have an ATF ranking, it will be very difficult for them to get to play in the main draw.
Francis, who is also a PLTA vice-president, said the competition will also be a stepping stone for the junior players who aspire to play at a higher level. By K. Kandiah..

Assri, not the first Malaysian to win an ITF title

ASSRI Merzuki finally made a name on the ITF Under-18 Circuit by winning the recent Group 4 Brunei tournament.
The youngster defeated Hong Kong’s Wong Chin Hun, the sixth seed, 6-0, 2-6, 6-2 in the singles final.
In the doubles final, Assri and the United States’ Lin Carter overcame Taiwan’s Jao Chi Shan- Lin Wei De 7-6(3) 7-6(0).
For the record, Assri is not the first Malaysian to win an ITF title, but nonetheless his performance is still an achievement.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

SLTA to groom Assri for doubles

KUCHING: The Sarawak Lawn Tennis Association (SLTA) is planning to make some adjustments to groom Sarawak’s rising tennis star Mohd Assri Merzuki as a doubles player.
Its president Dato Patrick Liew felt that the 17-year-old boy from Kampung Semariang Baru can play better in the doubles than in the singles.
“I have observed in the past few days of competition in the on-going 19th Sarawak Chief Minister Cup (I) ITF Junior Tennis Championship that his standard has improved tremendously to the level where he can beat any top 100 ITF junior player in the world,” Liew said yesterday.
He also observed a tremendous change in Assri after 24 and a half months of training in Romania, Spain and the US.
“In terms of physical condition, he’s already in top condition despite only being 17 years old and I strongly believe that he’s now in the growing stage and can improve and grow stronger in the future,” added Liew.
“He has become more respectful, disciplined and humble, which I think we have done justice to make him a better person in future.”
Liew said SLTA had made the right decision to develop Assri when he was only nine years old and that he was very sure that the player would become more matured when he turned 18.
“I am also convinced that we have made a right choice to work with Romanian Doru Sorin Murariu as Assri’s personal coach. Murariu spotted Assri’s talent when he was 11 years old in 2005,” said Liew.
Murariu, who formerly worked with Higueras Academy and the Niagara Academy of Tennis, Canada as a director, now owns and manages the Tennis Players Fitness Institute and Young Guns Elite Tennis Academy in Florida.
The academy trains mainly high performance and professional players from throughout the world.
Liew said SLTA remained focused in raising Assri’s level to be in the world ITF junior top 100 rankings before the third quarter of this year to qualify for the US Junior Open grand slam.
He has also worked out with Murariu to arrange more top level junior tournaments this year for Assri to boost his rankings.
Assri reached the semi-finals of the boys singles and boys doubles final of the 5th Melaka ITF International Tennis Championship earlier this month and won the boys singles title of the Brunei ITF Junior Group 4 event and finished runners-up with Carter Lin of the US in the boys doubles. At the 19th Sarawak Chief Minister’s Cup (I) ITF Junior Tennis Championship (Grade 1) here this week, he made an early exit in the first round of the boys singles but reached the boys doubles quarterfinals with Carter Lin.
Assri’s will next play in the 23rd Mitsubish-Lancer International Junior Grade One tournament in Manila next Tuesday.-

South Koreans clinch ITF junior doubles title

KUCHING: Chung Hyeon and Kim Dukyoung of South Korea put up a spirited display against top seeds Borna Coric (Croatia) and Nikola Milojevic (Serbia) in the boys doubles final to lift the title at the 19th Sarawak Chief Minister’s Cup (I) ITF Junior Tennis Championship (Grade 1) late yesterday.
The unseeded Koreans lost the first set 4-6 but came back strongly to clinch the second set 6-4. In the decider that was played on super tie-break, Kim-Chung won 10-7.
Earlier in the semi-finals, they also laboured for a three-set 7-6(8), 4-6, 10-4 win over sixth seeds Jannis Kahlke (Germany) and Lukas Mugevicius (Lithuania).
While it was a close fight for the boys doubles crown, it was a different story in the girls doubles where the semi-final winners Barbora Krejcikova (Czechslavakia) and Abbie Myers (Australia) who beat third seeds Nao Hibino and Ayaka Okuno of Japan 6-3, 6-7(3) 10-8, did not have to sweat for another match to lift the title.
This was because the winners of the other semi-final Kanami Tsuji and Anna Tyulpa (Russia), who had a walkover win against top seeds Elizaveta Kulichkova (Russia) and Carol Zhao (Canada), also conceded a walkover to Barbora/Abbie.
In the singles competition, fifth seed Carol Zhao continued her impressive form when she sent second seed Barbora Krejcikova of Czechslavakia packing in three sets in the semi-finals yesterday.
The Canadian challenger reached her second consecutive final here and will battle top seed Elizaveta Kulichkova of Russia for the title today.
Zhao won the first set 7-6(2) but lost some concentration to lose 5-7 in the second. She came back strongly to win the decider 6-2 to clinch the game.
In the other semi-final, Elizaveta, ITF No. 11 player, had an easier game against Hsu Ching-Wen of Taiwan, winning 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.
The boys singles final will see top seed Nikola Milojevic of Serbia pitched against ninth seed Kim Jae Hwan from South Korea for the crown.
Milojevic got past third seed Borna Coric of Croatia 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 in the last four.
Kim has also been impressive in this tournament, having scalped seventh seed Moos Sporken of Netherlands in round three and yesterday he claimed the biggest scalp by upstaging second seed Pedja Krstin of Serbia 4-6, 7-6(7), 7-6(5) in the semi-final.-

Friday, 16 March 2012

Assri suffers early exit at Chief Minister’s Cup

KUCHING: It was a disappointing day at the 19th Sarawak Chief Minister’s Cup (I) – ITF Junior Circuit as all the Malaysian representatives crashed out of the first round of the Boys Singles U18 category.
Played at the Sarawak Lawn Tennis Association (SLTA) tennis centre yesterday, Malaysia’s best hope, Mohd Assri Merzuki went down to Jacob Grills of Australia 4-7, 7-5, 7-5.
A number of unforced errors by the 249th ranked Assri cost him his chance for the winner but the youngster can be proud of his feat as Grills was ranked 177.
It was a three-hour marathon game that could go either way.
Ahmad Deedat Abdul Razak who was ranked 558 lost to 6-1, 7-6(3) to Korea’s Kim Dukyoung.
Kim was ranked 296 and would go on to face Australian Jordan Thompson in the third round of the competition.
Meanwhile, J Mendoza of the Philippines had a tough battle with Malaysian Khoo Er Yang but finally triumph 5-7, 6-3 and 6-2.
Khoo, who is from Kuala Lumpur put up a brave fight but today was just not his day.
In another match, Norrie Cameron of New Zealand had no problem overcoming a spirited Syed Mohd Agil Syed Naguib. Cameron won 6-1, 6-2 against the Malaysian.
All seeded players will play today in the second round courtesy of a bye.
They will go on to face the winners of the first round.
Tournament top seed Nokola Milojevic will face Australia’s Daniel Guccione who beat Rishab Agarwal of India.
Guccione won 4-6, 6-2 and 6-4.
Serbian Pedja Krstin, ranked 34, will face world number 145 NBenjasupawan.
Benjasupawan beat Robert Allan 6-2, 6-3 in the first round to face the no.2 seed of the tournament.
After winning 7-5, 6-3 against Haadin Bava of India, American J Daigle will go on to face third seeded Borna Coric of Croatia. Coric is 44th in the rankings while Daigle 102nd.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Vietnam join China, M’sia in Melbourne qualifiers

KUCHING: Vietnam booked the final ticket to the Junior Fed Cup Asia-Oceania qualifying event in Melbourne, Australia after they beat Sri Lanka 2-0 in the play-off for third/fourth place in the pre-qualifying last month.
China finished in first position by beating Malaysia 2-0, with Ye Qiu Yu beating Aslina Chua 6-4, 6-3 and You Xiao Di beating Choo Lyn Yuen 6-2, 6-0.
Both have already qualified for the qualifiers. Coming in fifth in the six-team competition were Turkmenistan who beat Iran 2-1.
In the World Junior Team Girls (U14) pre-qualifying, Kazakhstan justified their top seeds ranking as they finished as the top team after blanking Philippines 3-0.
Gozal Ainitdinova and Kamila Bolatova gave Kazakhstan their third point in the doubles when they overcame Maia Bernadette Balce and Maria Dominque Ong 4-1, 4-2.
On Thursday, Darya Shevchenko delivered the top seeds’ first point by beating Maria 4-1, 4-2 and Gozal was equal to the task when she tamed Erica Mae Manduriao 4-0, 4-2.
Singapore came in third after beating Iran 3-0 while in fifth to eighth positions were Vietnam, Jordan, Syria and Turkmenistan.
Meanwhile, fourth seeds Philippines look set to top the World Junior Team Boys (U14) contest when they upstaged second seeds Kazakhstan 3-0 in a play-off match yesterday.
They won’t be facing much problem to beat Syria in today’s match as the latter had lost 1-2 to Kazakhstan on Thursday.
United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka and Singapore are tussling for the fourth to sixth positions while the seventh to tenth positions are already decided.
Vietnam edged Saudi Arabia for seventh place while Turkmenistan edged Jordan for ninth place. (

Assri’s quest for ATP rankings gets big boost

KUCHING: Sarawak’s rising tennis star Mohd Assri Merzuki is looking forward to earn his first Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) rankings before the end of next year.
He hopes to do well in international competitions to repay the faith, trust and support that the Sarawak government, SLTA president Datuk Patrick Liew and corporate sponsors that had put in him to become a professional player.
“I am really determined to make it to the US Open Junior grand slam and earn my ATP ranking points before August 2013,” the 17-year-old kampung boy from Semariang Baru said yesterday.
He expressed his heartfelt appreciation to all those who have supported him in one way or another and make his dream come true – to play in international competitions and become a professional one day.
Assri received a big boost from Danawa Resources Sdn Bhd yesterday which pledged RM10,000 in sponsorship of sports attire and equipment for the four international ITF tournaments that he will be competing this year.
They are the Melaka ITF Junior Group 4 tournament starting next week, Brunei ITF Junior Group 4, Sarawak Chief Minister Cup World ITF Junior in Kuching and the Manila ITF Junior Group 1 tournament.
Liew said he hoped to see Assri doing well in all four tournaments.
“We hope to see him improve his ITF Junior rankings and this is a crucial time for us to decide whether we can further develop him into a professional player.
Hopefully by July next year, he can get into the US Open Junior and I do believe this is achievable if he puts in his full commitment, focus, hard work and dedication.”
SLTA is also planning to send Assri to two to four ATP events this year to boost his singles rankings. Liew said Sarawak had invested about RM500,000 on Assri since 2006 to develop him into a professional player.
“We hope that other corporate bodies will come forward as sponsors,” he added.
Assri has trained for a month in Barcelona, Spain, one and a half months in Bucharest, Romania and 18 months in Florida, US.
The investment has since paid dividends as Assri is now the top ITF Junior singles ranked player in Malaysia at 276.
His highest ITF Junior singles ranking was 234 and his ATP doubles rankings has improved from 820 to 798.
Meanwhile, Danawa Resources project manager Shahrir Mustapha said the company was honoured to be given the opportunity to sponsor Assri.
“We hope that with this sponsorship, he can excel in his future tournaments and especially as a professional player,” he said. (

Sarawak CM praises SLTA

KUCHING: Tennis in Sarawak should no longer be regarded as a luxury sport but instead be viewed as a sport for all as it is getting more popular here.
Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud praised Sarawak Lawn Tennis Association (SLTA) for being very proactive in promoting and developing tennis and the state government is very supportive of its efforts to develop the sport of tennis.
“SLTA has slowly made the ITF junior tennis tournaments to become quite important events in Asia and it had attracted a lot of youths from all over the world,” Taib said after handing over the challenge trophy for the 19th Chief Minister Cup (I) ITF Junior Tennis Championship (Grade 1) to organising chairman Dato Patrick Liew yesterday.
Taib also stressed that it is important for any organisation or association to have a good leader to bring it to greater heights.
“I believe the tennis tournaments are getting more support. By now, we are hosting eight international events which is quite an achievement for a newcomer like us but I think the main thing is that people should never look upon tennis anymore as a luxury game.
Anybody who got talent can come in and we will sponsor them to do it properly. In fact, we are sponsoring one boy (Mohd Assri Merzuki) to go to the US for professional training and that will probably help to upgrade the quality of our tennis for the future,” said Taib.
He said at a later stage Sarawak might invite some famous tennis stars to inspire the people and further upgrade tennis here. But he felt that by now, the exposure was enough to enable the state to start in a good way and that Assri would be a good asset to the state when he returns from his training in the US.
Taib said he supported any sport that can attract enough talent and create a group of people who nurture it.
“SLTA had been very successful in developing tennis and other sports association should emulate its achievements. We are lucky in the case of tennis because Dato Patrick is very keen on it and had spread up on certain level of activities. I think we can do the same thing in other areas if I can get some other volunteers coming in,” he added.
One such sport is football which is now being revamped and Taib is expecting to see ‘new muscles” coming up in football in three years’ time.
“SLTA appreciates the trust and confidence given by the chief minister. We are consistently organising international tennis events since 1999 – it’s a long period but all of us are enjoying it and passionate with what we are doing. The greatest satisfaction is that through these international events, Sarawak is now on the global tennis map,” said Liew.
He added that the last tournament here – the Junior ITF Asia/Oceania event, photos and news of the tournament was posted on the front page of the ITF Junior website which was viewed daily by thousands of people worldwide.
“We thank the chief minister for the RM80,000 grant and we will continue to perform the best,” said Liew.
Meanwhile, a total of 120 junior players including 51 girls from 32 countries will be competing in the 19th Chief Minister Cup (I) ITF Junior Tennis Championship (Grade 1) at SLTA Tennis Complex from Mar 13-18.
The qualifying matches will start tomorrow while the main draw will be played from next Tuesday. (

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Fun tennis at KLCC

Jetstar, the first ever official airline partner of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Asia Pacific, served up some fun tennis games at the Suria KLCC in Kuala Lumpur during the recent BMW Malaysian Open.
Fans played tennis with international women players, Jarmila Gajdosova (Australia) and Olga Puchkova (Russia). This was part of the event promotion.

Jetstar's coaching clinic

Jetstar, an Australian low-cost airline, organised a tennis clinic during the recent BMW Malaysian Open, at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian and Country Resort. Japan's Ayumi Morita and Greece's Eleni Daniilidou conducted the clinic, participated by children from the Pusat Jangan St. Barnabas Home (Home for Needy Children) of Klang, Malaysia.
The children picked up fundamental tennis skills from their inspiring coaches and enjoyed the tennis clinic tremendously.

Tennis stars raise 'dough' for kids

DoubleTree by Hilton pastry chef Amanda Lim (right) guiding (from left) Anne Kremer, Olivia Rogowska and Petra Martric in making the chocolate chips cookies. Pic by Zulfadhli Zulkifli (NST)

DOUBLE Tree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur recently teamed up with some of the world's finest women tennis players participating at the recent BMW Malaysia Open to raise funds for the Baked For Care charity drive.
Donning the chef's hat and apron, Anne Kremer of Luxembourg, Olivia Rogowska of Australia and Petra Martric of Croatia joined forces with the hotel's pastry crew in an interactive baking session to make the internationally renowned DoubleTree chocolate chips cookies.
After the baking session, the cans of cookies were autographed by these tennis stars.
Two hundred and fifty limited-edition cans will be on sale at the hotel's The Food Store till March 16 and during the BMW Malaysia Open tournament.
The cookies are priced at RM47 per can at The Food Store and RM50 per can at the tournament.
All funds raised from the cookie sale, which enters its second year, will be channelled to Make-A-Wish Malaysia in support of its cause to grant wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.
DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur general manager Ian Barrow said the hotel is always keen to reach out and help people who are less fortunate.
"We are delighted to be the official hotel partner for the BMW Malaysia Open and support the Make-A-Wish Malaysia for the second consecutive year.
"I am confident the campaign will repeat last year's success due to the great support from the community and in granting the wishes of kids in need," he said.
Last year, the hotel raised RM5,000 from the cookies sale in the same programme.
Make-A-Wish Malaysia secretary and director of volunteers Lilian Si said she is grateful for the efforts shown by DoubleTree by Hilton in helping the children.
"This is a good platform to enrich the lives of many children with life-threatening medical conditions through the granting of their wishes.
"We hope that the public will assist us in making some of the dreams of these children come true," she said.
The BMW Malaysian Open was held at Bukit Kiara Equestrian and Country Resort.

Sania Mirza further slips to 130 in singles ranking

Sania Mirza continued to slide down the ranking ladder as she is now placed 130th, loss of one place in the latest WTA list issued on Monday.
After losing at the WTA Dubai Open qualifiers, Sania had also lost in the first round of the Malaysian Open singles event.
She, however, managed to maintain her seventh place in the doubles ranking.
Meanwhile, the out-of-action Somdev Devvarman has lost 15 places to be down at 135 in the ATP singles rankings list.
In the doubles rankings, Leander Paes continued to be the highest ranked Indian at number seven.
New Indian men's doubles pair of Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna, who won their first ATP World Tour title together at the Dubai Open, gained three places each.
While Bopanna is now placed at number eight, Bhupathi has climbed to No. 12 spot in the doubles ranking.

Tennis champ lauds coach for success

aipei, March 6 (CNA) Taiwanese tennis player Hsieh Su-wei said Tuesday that meeting her coach, Paul McNamee, helped her overcome depression and pushed her game to new heights.
The world ranking of the 26-year-old has risen to 78 after she won the BMW Malaysian Open last Sunday. At the end of 2011, Hsieh's world ranking was 172.
McNamee began coaching Hsieh at the 2011 Wimbledon tournament, helping her get through to the semi-finals in the mixed doubles.
"I was really depressed when I went to Wimbledon and I was in terrible condition," said Hsieh. "I was not expecting McNamee to get me through to the mixed doubles semi-finals."
McNamee happened to be leading a group of teenage female tennis players to Wimbledon at the time Hsieh decided to hire him, so she did not have to pay for his air fare or food and accommodation, although she had to pay a coaching fee.
Hsieh said McNamee made her feel very relaxed and that he got to know her well.
The 57-year-old Australian player was once ranked as the world's number one doubles player by the Association of Tennis Players (ATP) and took 23 doubles titles during his career, including four Grand Slams.
McNamee has even beaten former world number one John McEnroe of the United States.
However, Hsieh said, she can only afford to hire him to coach her through 10 tournaments.
"Basically, McNamee will definitely be attending the four major Grand Slams, but whether I can hire him for the remaining tournaments will remain to be seen, " said Hsieh.

(By Lung Bo-an and C.J. Lin)

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Exciting show despite the rain

(Petra Martic)

(Keld Kristiansen)
HE rain-hit BMW Malaysian Open turned out to be a memorable affair for Taiwan's Hsieh Su Wei, who, as a qualifier, won her first WTA Tour title at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian & Country Resort on Sunday.
Su Wei's victory was a perfect end to a tournament which was marred by continuous rain except on the final day of competition.
Even a 'bomoh' -- hired to stop the "skies from opening up" -- failed to stop the rain but, nonetheless, the event turned out to be an exciting affair for tennis fans.
The weather, as expected, caused a scheduling logjam forcing tour supervisor Pam Whytcross to push back matches, some that had not even started, to the following day.
It resulted in some players losing their momentum and form. Former World No 1 Jelena Jankovic was upset with the weather but, nevertheless, said she would return next year if invited.
The lengthy wait and cramped scheduling led to the withdrawals of several top players. Poland's top seed Agnieszka Radwanska and Japan's Ayumi Morita pulled out from their quarter-final matches due to injury while Croatia's Petra Martic succumbed to heat exhaustion in the final.
Carbon Worldwide, the tournament organiser, also suffered losses as it had to allow daily ticket holders to use their passes for the next day's proceedings without charging a sen.
Playing two games on the final day and both three-setters, took its toll on Petra, who was in tears after handing Su Wei the title.
The 21-year-old sought medical attention three times during the title match and finally signalled to the chair umpire that she couldn't continue in the sixth game of the third set.
Su Wei admitted that an element of luck played a huge role in her victory on Sunday. The 26-year-old, more of an accomplished doubles player, was leading 2-6, 7-5, 4-1 when Petra called it quits.
"I will remember the Malaysian Open for the rest of my life. It wasn't easy for me as I couldn't sleep upon arrival and had to play the very next day in the qualifiers," sad Su Wei, who climbed 45 rungs to World No 78 in this week tour rankings.
Compatriots Chan Kai Chen and Chung Chia Jung made it a grand double for Taiwan by winning the doubles title.
Su Wei next heads to Indian Wells where she will resume her partnership with China's Peng Shuai in doubles but will withdraw from singles.
Jawairiah Noordin and Choo Lyn Yuen were the local representatives but, as expected, both failed to clear their opening round qualifying matches.
The 22-year-old Jawairiah become the first local to win a set in the tournament in her 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 loss to Japan's Shuko Aoyama.
Tournament director Keld Kristiansen (pic) was impressed with Jawairiah's performance.
"She has good strokes and I believe, she can go far if exposed accordingly," said Kristiansen.
Carbon Worldwide, however, could have done better in terms of marketing its event to the public.
The media and fans were left frustrated as promotional activities left a lot to be desired.
The Malaysian Open has the potential to become one of the premier sporting events in the country if marketed properly.
Those concerned need to work harder to ensure next year's event, which could be moved to Langkawi, is bigger and better.

Su Wei 'bags' first big win

QUALIFIER Hsieh Su Wei of Taiwan was 'handed' her first career WTA Tour title at the BMW Malaysian Open when Croatia's Petra Martic retired from heat exhaustion in the sixth game of the third set at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian & Country Resort yesterday.
Su Wei was leading 2-6, 7-5, 4-1 before Petra signalled to the chair in the sixth game that she wanted to discontinue. The 26-year-old is the first qualifier and Asian player to win the event's singles title.
The iron-willed Petra first withstood a three-hour battle against World No 14 Jelena Jankovic in her 6-7 (5-7), 7-5, 7-6 (7-5) win in the semi-finals which was postponed from Saturday due to rain, before facing Su Wei a few hours later.
"I feel so happy and I hope to continue winning after this. In my first visit here at 14, I won a title and in my last visit, I helped Taiwan do well in the Fed Cup Qualifiers (2009) and today (yesterday) I finally lifted my first tour title," said a delighted Su Wei yesterday.
"Kuala Lumpur seems to be a lucky charm for me. I got a bit lucky in the end as my quarter-final opponent Agnieszka (Radwanska) withdrew injured and Petra didn't finish.
"But I too had a tough time coming to Malaysia, not getting enough rest from Dubai and playing in the qualifiers."
In the first set, Su Wei, the World No 123, held serve in the first game before it turned out to be a one-sided affair with Petra breaking twice in the third and seventh game to win in only 30 minutes.
Petra used her powerful baseline game effectively to subdue Su Wei in the first set and the World No 66 looked solid at the beginning of the second set where she broke in the fifth game for a 3-2 lead.
Su Wei, however, managed to get the much needed break in the eighth game and it proved to be the turning point as Petra was by then struggling with cramps.
Petra called for the trainer after losing the 11th game for a massage and continued minutes later but the Croatian was misfiring on her serve in the 12th game to hand Su Wei the set.
Su Wei mixed her shots well in the third set to disorientate Petra, who could not move well on court. Petra called the trainer once each time after the fourth and fifth games.
On serve in the sixth game, Petra called quits after losing the first point.
"I will definitely return to defend my title next year. My next tournament is the Indian Wells, where I will only play doubles," Su Wei added.
Su Wei received US$37,000 (RM111,000) for her win while Petra earned US$19,000 (RM57,038).


Singles, s-finals: Petra Martic (Cro) bt Jelena Jankovic (Srb) 6-7 (5-7), 7-5, 7-6 (7-5).
Final: Hsieh Su Wei (Tai) bt Petra Martic (Cro) 2-6, 7-5, 4-1 (rtd).
Doubles, s-final: Chan Hao Ching (Tai)-Rika Fujiwaara (Jpn) bt Karolina Pliskova (Cze)-Kristyna Pliskova (Cze) 5-7, 6-2, 11-9.
Final: Chang Kai Chen-Chuang Chia Jung (Tai) bt Chan Hao Ching (Tai)-Rika Fujiwaara (Jpn)
7-5, 6-4.

Cool Taiwan pair clinch doubles title

(From left) Doubles runner-ups’ Chan Hao Ching of Taiwan and Rika Fujiwara of Japan with champions’ Chuang Chia Jung and partner Chang Kai Cheng of Taiwan at the BMW Malaysian Open at Bukit Kiara Equestrian and Country Resort yesterday. Pic by Supian Ahmad (NST)

TAIWAN duo Chang Kai Chen-Chuang Chia Jung kept their cool to beat fatigued opponents Chan Hao Ching-Rika Fujiwara and clinch the BMW Malaysian Open doubles title at Bukit Kiara Equestrian & Country Resort yesterday.
The Japanese-Taiwanese combination of Rika and Hao Ching, who earlier in the day beat Czech sisters Karolina and Kristyna Pliskova 5-7, 6-2, 11-9 in an absorbing semi-final postponed from the day before due to rain, started the match brightly and immediately broke the Taiwanese pair in the opening game.
They continued to call the shots for the next few games with their more powerful ground-stokes and solid net play but things started to fall apart as fatigue set in.
Kai Chen-Chia Jung, who beat top-seeded Australians Casey Dellacqua-Jarmila Gajdosova 6-4, 6-0 in their semi-final on Saturday, quickly regained their composure and broke Rika-Hao Ching in the eighth game to level the set.
The momentum stayed with the Taiwan pair which saw them subsequently break again in the 12th game to wrap-up the first set 7-5.
The second set saw the third seeded Japan-Taiwan combination lose their composure further in the scorching heat.
Both pairs exchange breaks early in the set and despite Rika-Hao Ching having three break points for a chance to serve for the set in the ninth game they failed to convert.
Their opponents got the decisive break in the next game to seal the match and the title 7-5, 6-4 in one hour and 30 minutes.
Kai Chen said she was delighted for them to win their maiden WTA title together in only four tournaments together as a pair.
The title is their second overall, having won their first at an ITF level tournament in Kaohsiung, Taiwan 2010.
"We have had a long week where we had a lot of tough matches and to go on and win the tournament is a great result for us," said Kai Chen.
"They were maybe a little tired but in the beginning of the match they were using a lot of strategies and we had trouble focusing on our own game. We were thinking about them too much.
"We saw them play against the Pliskova sisters and our plan against them was to move well, approach the net more and stay calm when rallying with them.
"Once we managed to settle down things got a lot better and we were able to win the match," added the 21-year-old.
Kai Chen, who will next be competing in the Indian Wells singles qualifiers this week, said the duo would most likely not partner each other again until the European clay-court seasons starts next month.
Kai Chen-Chia Jung, who are only the second Asian pair to win the doubles title at the Malaysian Open since Chan Yung Jan (Tai)-Zheng Jie (Chn) won in 2010, received US$11,000 (RM33,022) for their win while Rika-Hao Ching took home US$5,750 (RM 17,261.50) for their effort.

Former champ and cancer victim Alisa will be back

FORMER champion Alisa Kleybanova, who was diagnosed with cancer last year, will most likely return to Kuala Lumpur for next year's BMW Malaysian Open.
The former World No 20 has started playing full-time and is due to return to action at the upcoming Miami WTA tournament, the Russian player said on Thursday.
The 22-year-old was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphona last May and withdrew from the season's remaining tournaments to undergo treatment.
But with her treatment judged to be a success, Alisa will resume her playing career with a wild card into the main draw at Miami.
"I finished my treatment in December and a couple of weeks ago I did my last tests in Italy. The treatment was successful, my doctors are happy with my health and I'm feeling great," Alisa wrote on her WTA blog.
"I have started to train and right now I'm in Florida playing tennis again. It was physically really hard in the beginning but it was so emotional that I didn't want to get off the court."
Alisa, who turned professional in 2003, won her first career title in the inaugural Malaysian Open two years ago by overcoming now-retired compatriot Elena Dementieva 6-3, 6-2 in the final.
However, Alisa, who grew up in Moscow, fell in the second round in Kuala Lumpur last year.
"More than anything, I've missed the competition. For me tennis is not just going on court and hitting the ball -- it's testing yourself, seeing how good you are, trying new things, trying to improve, trying to win.
"For me the best part of tennis is the competition and I'm really looking forward to my comeback."
Carbon Worldwide representative Melvin Chia said Alisa will definitely add glitter to the tournament next year.
"Of course, we would like a former champion to return. However, it is too early to say anything about our plans for next year," said Melvin.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Su Wei's dream run continues

HSIEH Su Wei etched her name in the annals of the BMW Malaysian Open by becoming the first qualifier and Asian player to reach the women's singles final at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian & Country Resort yesterday.
Su Wei, who battled past three rounds in the qualifiers before making it to the main draw, continued her dream run by overcoming Greece's World No 81 Eleni Daniilidou 6-0, 4-6, 6-1, in a rain-interrupted semi-final match, to advance to her first career tour final since turning professional in 2001.
The World No 123 had an advantage in the match, as she had not played since Thursday. Su Wei's quarter-final opponent, Agnieszka Radwanska's withdrew due to an elbow injury on Friday.
As for Eleni, she had only a few hours rest after her quarter-final match, brought forward from Friday, before she was back on court to face Su Wei. Eleni defeated Australia's Olivia Rogowska 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 in the quarter-finals.
"I came here when I was 14 years old and won an age-group event and today (yesterday), in my first event since then, I am in the final once again.
"I've been in many ITF level finals but this is only my first tour final," said Su Wei, a semi-finalist of the recent Pattaya Open, yesterday.
"I am so happy and excited. It is always special when you slog through the qualifiers before making it to the main draw and later the final."
The semi-final match was interrupted twice with the first delay, lasting about two hours, when the players were on court, warming up.
When play resumed, the fitter Su Wei outsmarted Eleni's with her patience game and broke the first set three times before closing it with a bagel.
Su Wei, however, lost her focus in the second set, allowing Eleni to break serve in the first and third game before the match was stopped by the chair umpire due to the rain.
The 26-year-old managed to get back into the set when played resumed 75 minutes later, but Eleni held on to take the match into a third set.
The tiring Eleni was struggling with her game but held on before Su Wei broke serve in the fourth game for a 3-1 lead and that proved to be a decisive moment for the Taiwanese as after that she easily hit continuous winners to claim victory.
Eleni had to call for the trainer when she was down 4-1 in the third set but she continued with the match.
"It was a long wait as this match was interrupted twice..actually tiring. I knew she was tired and I tried to make her run as I wanted to finish the match as quickly as possible.
"I made mistakes in the second set but managed to recover in time for the deciding set to claim a win. The rain-break also helped me a little," she said.
Su Wei's game has improved since acquiring the services of Australian-born coach Paul Mcnamee late last year.
"He has been working with me since the start of the year and my game has improved so much under him," Su Wei added.
The other singles semi-final match between Croatia's Petra Martic and Serbia's Jelena Jankovic has been postponed to today due to rain.


Results —Singles, q-finals: Eleni Daniilidou (Gre) bt Olivia Rogowska (Aus) 6-2, 3-6, 6-2; Jelena Jankovic (Srb) bt Ayumi Morita (Jpn) walkover; S-final: Hsieh Su Wei (Tai) bt Eleni Daliilidou (Gre) 6-0, 4-6, 6-1; Doubles, s-final — Chang Kai Chen-Chuang Chia Jung (Tai) bt Casey Dellacqua-Jarmila Gajdosova (Aus) 6-4, 6-0.

Taiwanese pair stun Aussie top guns

IN only their fourth time together, Taiwan's Chang Kai Chen-Chuang Chia Jung reached their second career doubles final in the BMW Malaysian Open at Bukit Kiara Equestrian & Country Resort yesterday.
Kai Chen-Chia Jung defeated Australia's top seeds Casey Dellacqua-Jarmila Gajdosova 6-4, 6-0 in the 56-minute semi-final match. Casey-Jarmila, a scratch pair, are the top seeds based on their individual doubles ranking.
The Taiwanese pair played their first tour competition together at the 2010 Pattaya Open, where they reached the quarter-finals before winning an ITF event in Kaohsiung. In the following year in Birmingham, Kai Chen-Chia Jung reached the quarter-finals.
Chia Jung, the World No 63, is an accomplished doubles player having won 17 WTA tour titles with various partners. And in Grand Slam events, the 27-year-old and former partner Chan Yung Jan were finalists at the 2007 Australian and US Opens.
As for Kai Chen, the 21-year-old has won many ITF level titles but just one tour victory, recorded two years ago in Osaka. The Malaysian Open is her first event of the season in doubles.
"We didn't expect to be in the final as this is only our fourth tournament together," said Kai Chen yesterday.
On their victory over the Australian pair, Kai Chen said: "It is always good to win regardless of who we play but it's always a great feeling to win against the top seeds but we weren't thinking about it before this match.
"We just wanted to play our best tennis and get into the final," she said.
The first set saw both pairs struggling to hold their serve with Kai Chen-Chia Jung breaking four times while Casey-Jarmila recorded three breaks.
Kai Chen-Chia Jung, however, played at a quicker pace in the second set to finish off their opponents with three breaks to earn a spot in the final, where they will be hoping to win the title.
They will face Czech Republic's Pliskova twins, Karolina and Kristyna or the Taiwanese and Japanese combination of Chan Hao Ching and Rika Fujiwara for the title today.

Langkawi to hold court

THERE are mega plans to make next year's fourth edition of the BMW Malaysian Open bigger and better.
Carbon Worldwide, the organiser which has announced its plans to move the tournament to Langkawi, is keen to upgrade it into a WTA Tour tier II event.
The tournament is currently a Tier III event that offers a total prize money of US$220,000 (RM660,000). A tier III event must offer a minimum prize money of US$600,000 (RM900,000).
The tour had offered Carbon to upgrade the Malaysian Open late last year but the organiser declined it. A bigger total prize-money will guarantee a more competitive field of players.
If the plan goes through, then the Malaysian Open will be the biggest WTA tournament in Southeast Asia. The Pattaya Open is the other tour event in the region and it is a tier III tournament.
A source said Carbon was keen to move the tournament to Langkawi and that it had already identified two locations. A plot of land adjacent to the scenic Harbour Marina and the existing centre, which plays host to the annual Langkawi International Junior Championships, are the two possible venues identified by the organiser.
Tournament director Kled Kristiansen said he will visit the proposed venues after the ongoing Malaysian Open.
"We need to inspect them before presenting the chosen one to the tour organisers. It will be a long process as we must make sure that the new venue is in accordance with the agreement for the tour," said Kristiansen.
Former prime minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad, the tournament's patron, mooted the idea to move the event to Langkawi at a recent luncheon.
Mahathir had stated that the tournament would help promote Langkawi as a tourist destination.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Ayumi withdraws

Second seed Jelena Jankovic reached the semi-finals of the BMW Malaysian Open Saturday without having to pick up her racquet after Ayumi Morita pulled out injured, the second withdrawal in two days.
Top seed and world number five Agnieszka Radwanska pulled out Friday due to injury after a string of rain delays caused a schedule pile-up that forced her to face two opponents the day before.
Morita, who survived a tough second round match against compatriot Misaki Doi on Thursday, said: “My shoulder had been giving me a problem since two days ago when I played Misaki.”
“I don’t know much about the injury, except that it’s painful. I will take a few days off before deciding if I will enter the next tournament,” she added.
“I enjoy playing in Malaysia as there are many Japanese fans and I hope to be back for the fourth time next year.”
Jankovic will now take on fifth seed Petra Martic of Croatia, who recovered from losing the opening set on Friday to upset third seed Peng Shuai of China 4-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-4.
The other semi-final will be between Taiwanese qualifier Hsieh Su-wei, who benefited from Radwanska’s withdrawal, and Eleni Daniilidou, who beat Olivia Rogowska 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.
Daniilidou was in action earlier Saturday as her match with Rogowska was suspended on Friday with Daniilidou leading 6-2, 3-2.
The long break helped Rogowska as she took the first four games of the day to level the match 6-3 but Daniilidou fought back to take the third set 6-2.
The $220,000 BMW Malaysian Open ends on Sunday.

Kai-Chen and Chia-Jung Steamroll Past Aussies

Chinese Taipei pair Chang Kai-Chen and Chuang Chia-Jung will make their second WTA final appearance at the BMW Malaysian Open at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian and Country Resort after defeating top seeds Casey Dellacqua and Jarmila Gajdosova of Australia in the semis.
The Australians were no match for the Kai-Chen/Chia-Jung on a day that started with the sun blazing in stark contrast to gloomy weather and rain in the past few days that affected the scheduling.
The Chinese Taipei pair ran out easy winners with an easy 6-4, 6-0 scoreline in just under an hour.
“We did not expect to be in the final as this is only our fourth tournament playing together,” said Kai-Chen.
“It’s always good to win regardless of who we play but it’s always a great feeling to win against the top seeds. But we were not really thinking about it during the match. We just wanted to play our best tennis and get into the final,” she added.
Commenting on how some Asian players have done well, Kai-Chen said “Maybe it’s because many here are unable to adjust to the heat. It’s the same for us as its winter back home but are used to the heat and that really helps us playing here.”
The pair are unseeded at the BMW Malaysian Open and off the duo, Chia-Jung is a more accomplished doubles player having won 17 WTA doubles titles and attained a doubles ranking of 63 in the world.
Meanwhile Kai-Chen has only won one WTA title and is number 214 in the world doubles ranking. The first time the pair played together was at Pattaya in 2009, but they failed to progress past the first round.
However the following year in 2010, they paired up for only the second time in their career and went on to win a ‘home’ title in Chinese Taipei. They had also paired each other in Birmingham last year but only made it to the second round.
The pair will now await the identity of their final opponents. Chan Hao-Ching of Chinese Taipei and Rika Fujiwara of Japan will go against Czech Republic twins Karolina and Kristyna Pliskova later today.
“It doesn’t really matter who we play. It is beyond our control so there is no point in hoping who we would play,” said Kai-Chen.
The first set was pretty equal as both pairs matched each other stroke for stroke, but the Chinese Taipei pair were more efficient in front of the net when it mattered most to win crucial points.
The Australians chased the game in the second set and took more risks but that only allowed Kai-Chen and Hao-Ching to gain advantage from a more open game, which they exploited to the maximum and gave the pair from down under no chance whatsoever.

Petra gets big boost

RAIN wreaked havoc once again on the BMW Malaysian Open but it turned out to be a memorable day for fifth seed Petra Martic who earned her biggest victory of the season en route to qualifying for only her third career WTA Tour semi-finals.
In one of the tournament's most exciting matches, the Croatian slogged for nearly 150 minutes to upset China's World No 19 and third seed Peng Shuai 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 for her maiden victory over a top-20 ranked player this season.
After losing the first set, Petra forced the second into a tie-break battle, where she broke her opponent's serve three times to force a third set.
In the 10th game of the deciding set, Peng Shuai, who was on serve, battled back from 0-30 down to level proceedings but a questionable line-call earned Petra her first match point.
Peng Shuai, however, forced deuce but lost the subsequently two plays to give Petra victory.
"I'm satisfied with how I played. I don't think I played this aggressive before. I kept my nerves during those crucial points and won the match," said Petra at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian & Country Resort yesterday.
"I'm proud to have reached the semi-finals but would have preferred to have won in straight sets. I made mistakes and there were a couple of bad calls in the first set. It frustrated me but I was not discouraged.
"I set my mind to focus on winning the next two. Physically it would have been better to play only two sets but three setters seemed to be working for me."
Petra has been doing it the hard way in the tournament, winning her first and second round encounters, also in three sets.
The 21-year-old has not won a tour title since turning professional four years ago. She reached the semi-finals in Bogota and Copenhagen, both achieved last year.
Only three matches, including the walkover by Poland's Agnieszka Radwaska, were completed due to the heavy downpour yesterday. Play was also suspended on Wednesday.
Greece's Eleni Daniilidou led Australia's Olivia Rogowska 6-2, 3-2 before it started to rain. The tour officials waited for three hours before calling off play.
In an earlier doubles match, Czech Republic's Pliskova sisters, Karolina and Kristyna defeated China's Liu Wan Ting-Xu Yi Fan 7-5, 6-3 to qualify for their first career semi-finals in doubles.
They face the Taiwanese and Japanese combination of Chan Hao Ching-Rika Fujiwara today.


Singles, Q-finals: Petra Martic (Cro) v Peng Shuai (Chn) 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4; Hsieh Su Wei (Tai) bt Agnieszka Radwanska (Pol) w/o.
Doubles, Q-finals: Karolina Pliskova-Kristyna Pliskova (Cze) bt Liu Wan Ting-Xu Yi Fan (Chn) 7-5, 6-3.


Singles, Q-finals: Eleni Daniilidou (Gre) v Olivia Rogowska (Aus) 6-2, 3-2 - suspended match; Ayumi Morita (Jpn) v Jelena Jankovic (Ser) — Matches from 11am onwards.
S-final: Hsieh Su Wei v Eleni Daliilidou (Gre) or Olivia Rogowska (Aus); Petra Martic (Cro) v Ayumi Morita (Jpn) or Jelena Jankovic (Ser) — not before 4pm
Doubles, S-finals: Karolina Pliskova-Kristyna Pliskova (Cze) v Chan Hao Ching (Tai)-Rika Fujiwara (Jpn); Casey Dellacqua-Jarmila Gajdosova (Aus) v Chang Kai Chen- Chuang Chia Jung (Tai) — * Doubles starts at 1pm

Su Wei has a singles problem

HSIEH Su Wei has an awkward problem.
The Taiwanese is ranked highly in the doubles and gets to play in big tournaments but in singles, she struggles to even get into the main draw of small events.
But the 26-year-old's fortunes could change soon as she is making huge strides in singles.
Yesterday, Su Wei continued her semi-final run from the Pattaya Open to the BMW Malaysian Open.
Her quarter-final opponent Agnieszka Randwaska, the World No 5, withdrew due to an elbow injury.
"I face an awkward problem as I don't get to play singles in priority tournaments. I am focusing on singles this season and hopefully my fortunes will change," said Su Wei at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian & Country Resort yesterday.
"I reached the semi-finals in Pattaya and once again here. I hope to go one better in Kuala Lumpur but it will not be easy for me."
Su Wei negotiated three rounds in the qualifiers and defeated higher ranked players in the main draw before the walkover in the quarter-finals.
The World 123 arrived in KL right after bowing out from the doubles semi-finals in Dubai last weekend and hours later played her first round qualifying match.
"I haven't had much sleep since coming over here but I am enjoying every moment of this tournament," said the former Asian Games gold medallist.
She admits, however, that she is not in a good shape.
"I need to sharpen my game and also play with quality opponents more often to improve," said Su Wei.
She achieved a career-high ranking of No 78 in 2008 but later decided on shifting her focus on doubles, where she has won eight tour titles.
"My game is getting better and I hope to break into the top-100 once again. It is not easy playing singles as there are so many good players on the tour," Su Wei added.

Injury forces Agnieszka to withdraw

TOP seed Agnieszka Radwanska has withdrawn from the BMW Malaysian Open due to a right elbow injury yesterday.
The World No 5 informed WTA supervisor Pam Whytcross in the training room, two hours before she was due to play Taiwanese qualifier Hsieh Su Wei in the quarter-finals.
"We were called into the training room at 2pm and were informed that she had a right elbow injury (nerve problem). It is disappointing but we wish her the best.
"It is still early in the season and players have to manage their injuries carefully," said Pam at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian & Country Club yesterday.
Agnieszka addressed the crowd on centre court and said: "I am sorry I can't continue. Had a great time in Kuala Lumpur and I hope to return in future."
She immediately left the arena for the Kuala Lumpur International Airport to board a flight to Krakow, Poland, to get treatment for her injury.
The 22-year-old reached her career high ranking following her eighth tour victory at the Dubai Championships before heading for KL.
Agnieszka, who had her shoulder and thigh strapped throughout the event, had a problem with the tight scheduling due to the weather condition.
Her first round match with Uzbekistan's Akgul Amanmuradova was scheduled originally for Tuesday before being pushed back to the next day due to heavy rain.
The match was halted once again before it was completed on Thursday afternoon and two hours later, she was back on centre court against Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova (6-4, 6-4). She complained of a sore shoulder after her second round win.
Agnieszka is due to compete in Indian Wells and Miami.

Defending champ makes early exit

THE BMW Malaysian Open is fast earning a reputation as one of the tour’s most difficult title to defend.
Russia’s Alisa Kleybanova, the inaugural winner, was beaten in the second round in the last edition and yesterday, defending champion Jelena Dokic fell at the same stage.
A disappointed Jelena, however, has no plans to fade away following her unimpressive start to the season.
The Australian had fully intended to get her career back on track by defending her title in Kuala Lumpur but the 29-year-old lost 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2) to her compatriot Olivia Rogowska.
Jelena could have won in two as she was leading 4-3 in the second set but allowed her 21-year-old opponent back into the match to claim victory.
“It hasn’t been a good year to start. I took six months to recover from a shoulder injury last season and I’ve been struggling since,” said Jelena at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian & Country Resort yesterday.
“It was one of those frustrating days where I couldn’t play my best. It was a game I should have won easily. I wasn’t able to close down as much I wanted to.”
Jelena has not made any impact this season following early exits in Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne, Bogota and Monterrey.
“Now that I’m out, I don’t have tournaments to defend so I will just seek to improve my game and see where it goes from there,” added the World No 76.
A winner of six tour titles, Jelena was once among the elite in the women’s game and reached a career-high ranking of No 4 a decade ago.
On her immediate plans, Jelena said: “I will head to Indian Wells next week and then Miami. It’s tough to look beyond that.” By Ajitpal Singh

Rain stops play

RAIN wrecked havoc at the BMW Malaysian Open yesterday as play was halted twice with top seed Agnieszka Radwanska yet to complete her first round match at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian & Country Resort.
The first rain break lasted for three hours before play resumed with Agnieszka taking on Uzbekistan's Akgul Amanmuradova. But the rain once again halted play.
The tournament organisers waited for nearly three hours before calling off proceedings. Only three of the eight scheduled matches were completed yesterday.
The 22-year-old Polish player, who won her eight tour title at last week's Dubai Championships, was leading Akgul 6-2, 3-3 when rain interrupted play.
The delay has left a logjam in the schedule with the winner of the Agnieszka or Akgul match, also down to play a second round match today.
But it turned out to be a fruitful day for Taiwanese qualifier Hsieh Su Wei, who defeated Australia's World No 107 Casey Dellacqua 6-1, 7-5 to qualify for the quarter-finals.
Su Wei, the World No 123, hardly had any rest since arriving from Dubai on Saturday for the qualifying round.
"I didn't have much sleep the last three days and in fact took advantage of the three-hour rain delay today (yesterday) to get some needed rest," said Su Wei.
"My body is still adjusting and I am just happy to get to the quarter-finals. I've played five matches already in the tournament and it is tiring."
Su Wei, an accomplished doubles player with eight tour title, is playing in only her third singles tournament of the season.
In her last event at the Pattaya Open, the 26-year-old made a breakthrough by making her first ever semi-final appearance before bowing out.
Also through into the quarter-finals is Croatia's fifth seed Petra Martic, who overcame a three-hour rain delay, before edging Japan's Kurumi Nara 6-2, 3-6, 6-0.


Results -- Singles (2nd rd): Petra Martic (Cro) bt Kurumi Nara (Jpn) 6-2, 3-6, 6-0; Hsieh Su Wei (Tai) bt Casey Dellacqua (Aus) 6-1, 7-5; Agnieszka Radswanska (Pol) v Akgul Amanmuradiva (Uzb) 6-2, 3-3 (suspended).

Doubles (Q-finals): Chang Kai Chen-Chuang Chia Jung (Tai) bt Yurika Sema (Jpn)-Varatchaya Wongteanchai (Tha) 6-2, 6-4.

Li Na motivates Peng Shuai

CHINA'S Peng Shuai has been living in the shadows of compatriot Li Na since the start of her career but the World No 19 hopes to break away and create her own history on the WTA Tour.
The 26-year-old has beaten several top-10 players including Jelena Jankovic, Francesca Schiavone, Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska but sadly, she has not won a title despite appearing in four tour finals.
"I have won many titles in doubles but unfortunately none in singles, though I've come close many times," said Peng Shuai, a gold medallist at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, yesterday.
"My focus is also on my body, where I hope to stay healthy. I can only do better if I am injury free. I've also changed my racquet and I'm playing better.
"Li Na is someone I would want to emulate in the near future. She is an icon in China but I hope to create my own history for my country."
Peng Shuai resumed training under coach Allen Ma in December 2010 after going separate ways for several years. She reckons that Ma is more than just a coach to her.
"He helps with everything, even my personal issues. It was only logical for me to get him back as coach," said the Asian No 2.
Peng Shuai is also aiming for a medal at the London Olympic Games despite tennis being a grass-court event.
"It will be held on grass and I don't like playing on it. Furthermore, it will be tough for me as there are no grass courts in China.
"The Olympic Games is a big event for China and everyone in the national team will want to do well as winning medals mean a lot," she said.
She defeated Austria's Yvonne Meusburger 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 in the opening round of the BMW Malaysian Open on Tuesday and plays qualifier Kristyna Plisikova of the Czech Republic today for a place in the quarter-finals.

Early exits for Sania, Anne

NDIA’S Sania Mirza and Britain’s eighth seed Anne Keothavong were sent packing in the first round of the BMW Malaysian Open at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian and Country Resort yesterday.
Sania, the World No 129, lost 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 to Greece’s World No 81 Eleni Daniilidou while Taiwanese qualifier Hsieh Su Wei brushed aside Anne 6-4, 7-5.
“I was tired from the very beginning to be honest. I was having fever but I choose to start the match anyway so I can’t give excuses,” said Sania yesterday.
Eleni took the first set with relative ease as she broke Sania’s serve in the second, fourth and eighth game compared to Sania who only managed to break the Greek’s serve in the third game.
Just when everyone had dismissed Sania’s chances of making it to the next round, she stunned her opponent in the second set.
She broke Eleni in the first, third and seventh game to win 6-1 and in the process, stretched the match into a decider.
A comeback looked on the cards as Sania saved two match points at 5-3 down but Eleni managed to close the match.
“I was hitting a lot of winners in the third set and thought I could win it but she was just as aggressive,” said Sania.
Sania will now take a break and head to America for several WTA tournament.
“I need to regroup and get fit. That is my goal. I hope I can have another good five weeks in America like last year,” she added.
Eleni faces fourth seed Jarmila Gajdosova in the second round.
“The draw is not easy for me, but I’ve heard that Jarmila has been struggling lately. I’ve never played her so I can’t say much,” said Eleni.
On her first round win, Eleni said: “I had ups and downs during the match. I had expected it to be tough.
“Sania is a great player with experience but she has been struggling with her singles lately.
“I had to prepare myself to be mentally strong too as it is humid but I guess it’s the same for everyone,” said the 29-year-old.
Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic beat France’s Caroline Garcia 7-6, 4-6, 7-6 in a late match yesterday.

Jarmila soldiers on

FIRST, it was a career-threatening ankle injury and then a divorce but the strong-willed Jarmila Gajdosova of Australia has overcame those testing times to continue her career on the WTA Tour.
Jarmila suffered a bruising ankle injury at the 2009 US Open but the 24-year-old made a splendid return several months later by winning her second career title in Sydney in March, 2010.
And in April last year, the World No 45 and former husband Samuel Groth decided to go separate ways.
“I broke my ankle in the US Open three years ago and it was a very serious injury. I needed surgery to get it repaired,” said Jarmila at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian & Country Club yesterday.
“I felt then it was the end of my career but thankfully, I managed to get back to full fitness to resume my tennis. And for prevention, I strap my ankle whenever I play as I do not want the injury to recur.”
Jarmila, who has won two career titles, came back from one set down to beat Germany’s World No 184 Kathrin Woerle 1-6, 7-6 (7-2), 7-5 to qualify for the second round of the BMW Malaysian Open. She plays Greece’s Eleni Daniilidou in the second round.
It was a morale-boosting first round victory for Jarmila, the last year’s semi-finallist of the event, following her first round exit in Dubai last week.
“It was really easy making a decision to come back to this tournament. I was delighted when I received as wildcard entry for the tournament.
On the match, Jarmila said: “It was a weird first set but I tightened my game and hit some winners in the decider to win the match.”