10:57 pm
22 Apr 2024

Beecroft Battles Back From The Brink At New Zealand Open

6 Dec 2023

England's Lucy Beecroft fought back from the brink to beat Aira Azman and reach a maiden PSA World Tour Silver-level quarter-final in the women's Barfoot & Thompson New Zealand Open.

Meanwhile, in the men's Lucino Vanities New Zealand Open, England's Patrick Rooney came from behind to take down No.7 seed Adrian Waller in the career-first victory over his compatriot.

On a cold court in the Mercury Arena in Tauranga, the attacking instincts of both Beecroft and Azman were rewarded in a fast-paced thriller.

It was 19-year-old Azman who made the quicker start, with the Malaysian settling well as she fired in a number of winners to take the first game 11-8 before Beecroft responded with hard-fought 13-11 and 11-9 wins.

The No.5 seed had a golden opportunity to win it in four games when she earned two match balls at 10-8, but could not convert as Azman forced a fifth game with a 12-10 win.

In a gripping conclusion, Azman came close to recording an upset with match balls at 10-9 and 11-10, but valiant rearguard from Beecroft saw the Englishwoman finally break the deadlock as she clinched the decider 13-11.

"It's just relief to get through it I think." Beecroft said afterwards. "A few match balls up and not converting - I was in a pickle.

"I probably should play like I'm match ball down more often! That's when I become more disciplined."

Beecroft's opponent in the quarter-final will be Nele Gilis, after the Belgian No.1 seed quickly overcame Malaysia's Wee Wern Low in straight games.

Elsewhere, Aira's sister Aifa Azman edged a tight encounter with France's Marie Stephan to set up a quarter-final clash with Hong Kong's Ka Yi Lee, who beat Australia's Jessica Turnbull in straight games.

In the men's event, Rooney impressed as he beat one England teammate to set up a quarter-final with another.

World No.30 Waller had the better of the opening exchanges and took the lead with an 11-9 win in game one.

Rooney then found the perfect response, going on the attack to wipe out the left-hander's lead with an 11-4 win.

The world No.25 kept up the pressure, allowing Waller few opportunities as he completed the comeback with a pair of 11-5 wins.

Rooney faces No.2 seed Marwan ElShorbagy in the next round after the England No.2 dispatched Canada's David Baillargeon in straight games.

Elsewhere, Welshman Joel Makin marked his return from injury with a 3/0 win over Scotland's Rory Stewart, while France's Baptiste Masotti swept aside India's Abhay Singh.