Sunday, September 27, 2015

Local Wild Card Ahmad Deedat Snatches Impressive Victory In First Round Of Qualifying


While local tennis stars were giving the crowds something to cheer about on Centre Court, the main draw ceremony threw up a number of intriguing first round matchups for fans to look forward to in the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2015 that began today with qualifying at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil from 26 Sep to 4 Oct.

Malaysian rising tennis star Ahmed Deedat Abdul Razak stole the limelight during the first round of qualifying with an impressive 7-5, 6-3 victory over 27-year-old Australian Zach Itzstein.

The 20-year-old Damansara lad started strong, winning a break point in the very first game to set the tone for the match, and held off the challenge of his more experienced opponent on route to becoming only the second Malaysian to achieve victory over foreign opposition since the tournament’s inception seven years ago.

The youngster, who is having his best season to date after picking up the Kuala Lumpur Open title last month, will face the fourth seeded qualifier, Michal Przysiezny (#150) of Poland, in the second qualifying round tomorrow.

“It feels great for me to win here at the Malaysian Open. The victory will boost my confidence. I know better now where my level of playing is and what I need to work on, now that I am exposed to a higher level of tennis. I think I can still improve my focus and intensity so that I fight for every game and play better on the big points. I have to attribute my victory to my Dad and my coach for all their efforts and faith in me. I know that (Przysiezny) is a good player - his intensity and level of play will be high so I will need to maintain my intensity as well to match him,” said Ahmed after the match.

Meanwhile, 26-year-old Muhamad-Ashaari bin Zainal Abidin, who was the first local to win a match against foreign opposition at the Malaysian Open in 2013, came close to notching a second victory for Malaysia on Centre Court but could not sustain his first set performance partially hampered by a leg injury sustained during the match, eventually going down 7-6 (0), 4-6, 4-6 to 19-year-old Russian Ilya Vasilyev in a grueling 2 hours and 17 minutes encounter.

Two other Malaysians were also in action today - Syed Mohd Agil Syed Naguib and Christian Oliver Lee - but neither were able to overcome their higher ranked and more experienced opponents.

With a fully-packed qualifying draw this year, a total of 16 matches were held over three courts at the Putra Stadium today – a tournament record.

The second round of qualifying will be held tomorrow from 10am onwards, with five matches slated for Centre Court and a further three matches on Court 1.

MAIN DRAW REVEALED

The main draw of the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2015 was held this afternoon in a public ceremony at the Putra Stadium here at Bukit Jalil and fashioned a number of intriguing ties to whet fans’ appetites before matches get underway from Monday.

Featuring one of the strongest fields in its seven year history, the tournament’s top four seeds this year include Spaniards David Ferrer (#8) and Feliciano Lopez (#16), Croatian wild card entry Ivo Karlovic (#18) and Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov (#19), who all received byes into the second round.

Of the remaining seeded players, seventh seeded Australian rising star Nick Kyrgios can perhaps lay claim to the trickiest first round tie, drawing Colombian Santiago Giraldo.

The 20-year-old world No.42 Kyrgios is known in Malaysia as the ‘Half-Kampung Kid’, an affectionate nickname referencing his Malaysian mother, and is in the form of his life this year, having become the first teenager to reach the Australian Open quarters for 25 years in January and beating Roger Federer at the Mutua Madrid Open in May.

Meanwhile, 27-year-old Giraldo is ranked No.58 and is in similarly good form this year, having made two ATP 250 semifinals at the Brasil Open and Geneva Open respectively. The duo have only met once before, with Kyrgios eking out a tight two set victory in last year’s Canadian Masters.

“It was a long flight from Columbia but I’m happy to be back here in Asia and in Malaysia. The quality of the draw is really good and fans should be excited by some of the matches coming up. I have a tight first round, but I will take it match-by-match,” said Giraldo, who was present during the draw ceremony.

Fifth seed Viktor Troicki (#22) of Serbia will kick off his campaign against Radu Albot (#99) of Moldova, with the 29-year-old Troicki coming from a set down to take victory in the duo’s only previous meeting in last year’s San Marino Challenger.

Sixth seed Jeremy Chardy, who is playing some of the best tennis of his career this year (currently ranked at #26), comes into the tournament fresh off a confidence boosting run into the US Open round of 16 earlier this month, most notably ousting David Ferrer along the way.

The 28-year-old Frenchman will take on the very exciting 6’6” tall 18-year-old German Alexander Zverev, who boasted career high ranking of #74 in June this year (currently at #79).

In 2014, Zverev was the first 17-year-old to finish in the Top 150 since Nadal (No.47) and Gasquet (No. 93) in 2003.

The eighth and final seeded player in the tournament, Vasek Pospisil of Canada, will take on a qualifier in the first round. The 25-year-old will be making his third appearance in Kuala Lumpur, with his best outing in 2012 when he made quarterfinals.

Another exciting first round tie sees fiery Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis (#52) take on Spanish former top ten star Nicolas Almagro (#77), who is working his way back up the rankings after sitting much of 2014 out due to injuries to his shoulder and right foot.

Wild card recipient Almagro, who is making his third appearance here in Kuala Lumpur, won the ATP Challenger in Genova and reached the quarters or better at five other events so far in 2015.

Baghdatis is making his fourth appearance in Kuala Lumpur (made the finals in 2011 where he lost to Tipsarevic) and has consistently finished within the top 100 of the ATP World Tour rankings for the last ten years running.

The two 30-year-olds have only met once on tour, with Almagro winning in straight sets at Roland Garros in 2012.

In another intriguing first round tie, 27-year-old Aussie Sam Groth (#54), who holds the world record for the fastest serve at 263km/h, will take on 34-year-old Benjamin Becker (#71) of Germany, who made the quarterfinals here in Kuala Lumpur last year.

Groth has won two challenger titles this year in Manchester and Taiwan and also made the quarterfinals of the ATP 250 Mercedes Cup in Germany this June, beating Feliciano Lopez along the way.

The draw of the doubles was also released today, with all main draw matches beginning from Monday.

Off the court, a special autograph session was held at the Putra Stadium foyer before the draw ceremony. Santiago Giraldo was on hand to meet and greet with fans as well as pick four lucky winners to walk away with giant tennis balls.

Once again the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur is making the event affordable for all Malaysians. Entry from Saturday 26 September to Tuesday 29 September is free.  Thereafter tickets will be between RM10 to RM620. Tickets can be purchased now on-line via the tournament website www.MalaysianOpenTennis.com, at TicketCharge outlets or through the ticket hotline at TicketCharge Ph: 603-9222 8811.

The tournament would like to thank its suite of official sponsors. In addition to the distinguished support of the Event Patron, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia and Tourism Malaysia, Ministry of Education as well as the Ministry of Youth & Sports, the event is proud to have prestigious commercial sponsors that include KPJ Healthcare Berhad, Rado, CNN International, the DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur, Wilson, 100 Plus, the Albukhary Foundation, Astro and the ATP World Tour’s Premier Partner Corona. 

-MalaysianOpenKualaLumpur.

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