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14 Jul 2024

Top Seeds Suffer As Subramaniam & Chan Set Up Surprise Asian Games Final

5 Oct 2023

The top two seeds in the women's singles draw at the 19th Asian Games crashed out in the semi-finals as Sivasangari Subramaniam and Chan Sin Yuk upset the odds to reach the final, in contrast to the men's draw where top seeds Eain Yow Ng and Saurav Ghosal will contest the gold medal match.

In the mixed doubles, which is making its Asian Games debut in Hangzhou, Indian top seeds Dipika Pallikal Karthik and Harinder Pal Sandhu, and Malaysian No.2 seeds Aifa Azman and Mohd Syafiq Kamal fought back from a game down in their matches to make the final.

Despite being seeded lower than No.1 seed Satomi Watanabe, Malaysian 3/4 seed Subramaniam will have drawn confidence from her dominant 9-1 record against the Japanese star going into the match.

Subramaniam, who now looks back to her very best following a lengthy spell on the sidelines last season, was a cut above Watanabe throughout their 30-minute encounter, with the 24-year-old dominant in the centre as she frequently pinned Watanabe to the back on her way to an 11-8, 11-8, 11-4 win.

Despite the defeat, Watanabe will take consolation from her bronze medal, the first ever individual medal won by a Japanese squash player at the Asian Games.

"I just tried to focus on my game and I did really well to be winning in three. I thought I did well with that and just happy to be in another final tomorrow," Subramaniam said afterwards.

Subramaniam will face fellow 3/4 seed Chan in the final after the 21-year-old beat Hong Kong compatriot and No.2 seed Tomato Ho in straight games, with Chan consistently beating the struggling Ho at the front of the court with an impressive attacking display.

Afterwards, Chan said: "It feels fantastic. This is my first Asian Games and it's really great to be in the final.

"Playing against teammates is always tough because we all get nervous, but I handled the pressure well."

In the men's semi-finals, the top two seeds were able to secure their place in the final, though Malaysia's Ng was forced to do things the hard way by Abdulla Al Tamimi of Qatar.

The 3/4 seed edged a tight first game 12-10 before the No.1 seed hit back with an 11-7 win in game two.

Al Tamimi, who wowed the crowd with his typically exciting winners as well as some excellent retrieving, looked to be moving into the lead again when he went 9-6 up in game three, but could not push on, with Ng going on a scoring run to take the game 11-9 before clinching the match with a comfortable 11-5 win in game four.

Like Watanabe, Al Tamimi will likely take solace from making national sporting history, with the Qatari going home having earned his country's first ever Asian Games squash medal.

Afterwards, Ng said: "I changed my mindset today and was really just enjoying some good squash! A few times I hit the widest crosscourt in the world and he was still getting it and all I could do was smile at how good it was.

"I just want to enjoy the occasion, the atmosphere and show everyone what I can do."

Ng will take on 2014 silver medallist and three-time bronze medallist Ghosal in the final after the Indian No.1, playing in his sixth Asian Games, swept aside 5/8 seed Henry Leung of Hong Kong in straight games.

"It took me a while to get over [the 2014 final defeat]" Ghosal admitted afterwards. He added: "I am just grateful that I have the opportunity to come back and play another final."

The mixed doubles final, meanwhile, will feature the top seeds, though both were forced to do things the hard way in pulsating semi-final matches.

Indian duo Pallikal Karthik and Sandhu, who won the "Exciting Hangzhou" KINME Cup Asian Squash Mixed Doubles Tournament here earlier this year, struggled in their first game against No.6 seeds Ka Yi Lee and Chi Him Wong, who took the first game 11-7.

As they did in their quarter-final comeback win against Philippines, the top seeds soon found the perfect response, with the pair finding gaps in the Hong Kong defences as they drew level with an 11-7 win of their own in game two before squeezing home with an 11-9 win in game three.

"I am just happy that I get to have my twins watch me play and hopefully we both can do it tomorrow," Pallikal Karthik said afterwards.

Malaysian duo Aifa Azman and Mohd Syafiq Kamal, meanwhile, also fought their way back. After dropping the first game 11-7 to India's Anahat Singh and Abhay Singh, the No.2 seeded Malaysian duo came roaring back with an 11-2 win in game two.

Singh and Singh appeared to have one foot in the final when they went 9-6 up in game three, but Azman and Kamal gathered themselves spectacularly, hurtling around the court and pouncing on errors from 15-year-old Anahat Singh to score four points in rapid succession and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

"[At 6-9 down] we said 'if they want to take a point, they'll have to kill us.' We weren't going to give them easy points!" Kamal reflected.