Azmans galvanize Malaysian spirit to secure semi-final showdowns

Aira Azman [5/8] inspired a series of strong Malaysian showings as she ousted top G15 seed Nour Khaled Aboulmakarim to book her place in the semi-finals on day three of the 2018 Dunlop British Junior Open (BJO).

Azman, the 2017 Asian Junior U13 winner, fought back heroically from a game down to secure a 3-1 victory, winning 5-11, 11-0, 11-7, 11-8 and seal a semi-final spot, where she will meet England’s Katie Maliff [3/4].

It means the G15 category is the only group where the No.1 seed does not feature in the last four.

The quarter-final day also saw five British players seal semi-final spots, while Malaysia also celebrated the same number who remain in contention to reach Sunday’s final.

There was double family joy as Azman’s older sister Aifa also progressed in the G17, where the second seed will face Jana Shila (Egy) [3/4]. Elsewhere in the group, current British National Junior U17 champion Georgia Adderley (Sco) [3/4] earned a 3-1 triumph over China’s Chan Sin Yuk [5/8] and awaits what promises to be an exciting showdown with top seed Marina Stefanoni (USA).

Egyptians continued to dominate the B19, where British National U19 champion Tom Walsh [5/8] came up short against Mostafa El Serty [3/4] in his quarter-final five-game thriller. El Serty will face a tough task in last year’s champion Marwan Tarek [1], who looks in pole position to defend his crown – having yet to drop a game in the tournament.  Victor Crouin is the only male French player to feature in a BJO semi-final, where he faces [5/8] Leonel Cardenas, the current US Junior Open U19 champion.

The G19 is the only category where an Egyptian player does not feature – and home fans will have much to cheer about after English duo Elise Lazarus [5/8] and Lucy Turmel [3/4] advanced to the last four. British National U19 champion Turmel faces an in-form Satomi Watanabe (Jap) [2] who ensured there would be no hat-trick of English women by overpowering Jasmine Hutton [5/8] in straight games, while Lazarus will face No.1 seed Sivasangari Subramaniam.

Tushar Shahani (Ind) [9/16] remains the lowest-ranked seed to reach a BJO 2018 semi-final, where he will face high-flying Omar El Torkey [1] who has set to drop a game in the B17, while El Torkey’s compatriots Yehia Hesham Fathy Elnawasany [5/8] and Mostafa Asal [2] will do battle for a final spot.

Double US Junior Open champion Sam Todd (Eng) cruised through to the B15 last four and confirmed his status as favourite to win the group. The Englishman will meet Egypt’s Ahmed Marzouk in the last four, after the [3/4] seed halted India’s Arnaav Sareen’s [17/32] fairy tale run in the tournament with a feisty 3-1 victory.

Meanwhile, the other G15 semi-final promises to be a hotly-contested all-Egyptian affair, as Habeba el Dafrawy [3/4] takes on Sana Ibrahim [2].

In the G13, Loyjayn Gohary [1] overcame her Egyptian counterpart Alya Omar [5/8] to set up another compatriot encounter with Fayrouz Abouelkheir [3/4], while Malak Taha (Egy) [2] set up a clash with Malaysian Sehveetrraa Kumar [3/4].

Pakistan’s Muhammad Humza Khan [5/8] produced a mesmerising performance in the B13, battling all the way to claim an epic five-game thriller against Omar Azzam [3/4] as he ousted the Egyptian 8-11,11-9, 11-9, 2-11, 11-8 to seal a last four spot against top seed Islam Kouratam.

And Jonah Bryant [2] ensured there will be an English representative elsewhere in the group, with Kareem Badawi (Egy) [3/4] standing in his way of reaching the final.

Ahmed Rashed [1] sailed through to the last four in the B11, where he will face England’s Dylan Roberts [5/8], while the USA’s Christian Capella [5/8], will play Malaysia’s Lee Hong Wong [3/4].

France’s Lauren Baltayan [5/8] is the only European representative left in the G11, after overcoming Charlie McCrone [3/4] to advance to the semi-final stage. She will play second seed Janna Galal (Egy).

Elsewhere in the G11, top Egyptian seed Amina Orfi kept up her pristine 3-0 record so far in the competition and will face Malaysia’s Whitney Wilson [3/4] for a place in Sunday’s final.