9:37 am
13 Apr 2024

Aira Shocks Aifa in Maiden Azman Battle at Australian Open

21 Mar 2024

Malaysian sibling rivalry was put to the test on day two of the City Tattersalls Group Australian Open when Aira Azman upset sixth-seeded sister Aifa Azman to secure an unexpected place in the women's quarter-finals of the PSA World Tour Bronze event at the University of Sydney.

It was the first time 19-year-old Aira had faced her older, more experienced and higher-ranked sister on the World Tour and, after a five-game battle 24 hours earlier, Aira was on the front foot from the off as she went 2/0 up.

Aifa, ranked 35 in the world, halved the deficit as she won the third game 11-8, but a dominant performance from Aira in the fourth secured a quarter final berth for the second time at a Bronze-level event.

"It was a bit emotional today's match - I was playing my sister for the first time, we've trained together since we were young and I'm a bit emotional that I beat her," said Aira afterwards.

"I played well today and I don't think she was 100 per cent," added the world No.44 from Kuala Lumpur.

"I was trying my best today to play her because I know she's a very good player and I was giving everything that I got. I know her weaknesses and she knows mine.

"I think our games are quite similar, but today I changed my game plan to make it hard for her to beat me and I think that helped me."

Top seeds Salma Hany and Victor Crouin both made excellent starts to their 2024 Australian Open campaigns after they progressed to the quarter finals in straight games.

Hany was in impressive form against Akanksha Salunkhe, only dropping six points over the three games as the world No.11 clinched the match in just 21 minutes.

"For the first match of the tournament I wanted to make sure I made a good start and it's always nice to play someone new - I've never played her before," she said.

"I prepared pretty well for the match and I'm happy with playing some good squash and getting through in three.

"I watched a bit of her match yesterday and I had an idea of how her game is. I always like to have an insight into how my opponent is going to play, I put up a game plan for that and I was ready for everything she threw at me and I'm happy I got through."

French No.1 Crouin overcame his fellow countryman Toufik Mekhalfi to reach the last eight.

Crouin, who won this event in 2019 on the PSA Challenger Tour, was tested by the world No.75 in what was the pair's first-ever encounter on the PSA World Tour. World No.11 Crouin came out on top with a, 11-8, 11-9, 11-8 success in 36 minutes.

Elsewhere, home interest ended after Jessica Turnbull and Sarah Cardwell were defeated by Sana Ibrahim and Marie Stephan, respectively.