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Teenage malaysian pair given doubles wild card entry

Teenage Malaysian tennis rising stars Mohd Assri Merzuki and Syed Mohd Agil Syed Naguib were given a golden opportunity to play against the best in world tennis as they were handed a final doubles main draw wild card here at the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2012, that began today with the qualifying rounds at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

Seventeen-year-old Mohd Assri and 18-year-old Mohd Agil will face Polish top seeds and 2009 tournament champions Mariusz Frystenberg and Marcin Matkowski in their first round match on Monday. The Poles were also finalists in the tournament in 2010.

“I am proud and very thankful to the organisers IMG and LTAM for giving us this opportunity. There is little pressure on us as we are playing the top seeds but we will do the very best we can to put up a fight,” said Agil, who added that duo have been playing tennis together since young, but have been training separately over the last three years.

Another Malaysian will also feature in the doubles main draw, as Si Yew Ming and singles wild card and US Open first round winner Jimmy Wang of Chinese Taipei will face third seeded Austrian-Brazilian pairing of Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares, the 2012 US Open Mixed doubles Champion.

Five Malaysians in total took part as wild cards in the qualifying matches held today, but none managed to overcome their more experienced opponents.

In the first match of the day on Centre Court, Treat Conrad Huey overcame Malaysian youngster Mohd Assri Merzuki 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 in a match that lasted close to two hours.

Fresh off a strong showing on the ITF Junior Circuit this year, 17-year-old Mohd Assri played brilliantly in the second set to tie the match, breaking his opponents serve three times, but failed to maintain his energy in the third against the 27-year-old Philippine doubles specialist. It was the first time that a local player had won a set in the tournament.

Malaysian number one Si Yew Ming went down tamely in the second round of the qualifying to Indian Sanam Singh 6-0, 6-1 in 56 minutes. The 33-year-old had earlier notched Malaysia’s first ever win in an ATP 250 tournament when he beat fellow Malaysian wild card entry Colin Wong 6-3, 6-1 in 65 minutes in their first round qualifying match.

Meanwhile, another Malaysian wild card entry Ahmed Deedat Abdul Razak lost to Great Britain’s Dominic Inglot 6-1, 6-4 in 51 minutes, with the 17-year old Malaysian struggling to hold his serve throughout the match. Despite the results, it was an encouraging day for the locals who have all improved since the tournament last year – and with a first time set and now a match won by locals in the event, things are looking brighter for the future.

American Michael Yani who lived in Singapore for eight years and has played every edition of the tournament, overcame a strong first set challenge from Mohd Agil to move on to the qualifying finals with a 7-5, 6-1 victory. The plucky 18-year-old held serve admirably in the first set against the second seeded qualifier ranked No. 241, but eventually succumbed in the ninth game.

In other matches held, third seeded qualifier Riccardo Ghedin moved on as expected to the final qualifying round after disposing of Austrian Alexander Peya 6-2, 6-4. The Italian will face Treat Conrad Huey tomorrow for a spot in the main draw.

Other matches tomorrow will see Austrian Julian Knowle face Japanese Toshihide Matsui, Michael Yani taking on Sanam Singh and another American Austin Karosi taking on Dominic Inglot of Great Britain for the four main draw single spots up for grabs.

Live main draw throws up a few intriguing first round clashes

The main draw for the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur was held publicly at the main entrance of the Putra Stadium at 3pm today, with tournament third seed and top Asian tennis player Kei Nishikori assisting in the draw.

The Japanese world No. 17, a local favourite after three consecutive appearances, did himself no favours by setting up a second round clash with Albert Ramos, should the Spaniard dispose of his qualifier opponent in the first round.

Currently ranked at No. 46, the 24-year-old Barcelona native Ramos is in the form of his life, having made the semifinal of two ATP 250 series tournaments this year, as well as his first ever career final at Casablanca in April.

“The field this year is stronger than before and I hope I can make the final. I need to be strong mentally and play at my best,” said the affable 23-year-old Japanese of his chances.

Nishikori has cause for confidence, as he is playing the most consistent tennis of his senior career, and made the quarter-finals of both the Australian Open in January and London Olympics in July, along with a host of other 250 series tournaments this year.

In Nishikori’s section of the draw is 2009 tournament champion Russian Nikolay Davydenko, who is still in France after making the final four of the ATP 250 Series Moselle Open. Once he arrives in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, he will face a tricky first round encounter with in-form Slovakian Martin Klizan, who is also in the final stages of the ATP 250 in Russia this week and who has won four Challenger tournaments this year and knocked Jo-Wilfred Tsonga out of this year’s US Open.

The 31-year-old former world No. 3 Davydenko currently ranks just three spots behind the mutually in-form Klizan at No. 48, making their clash among the more intriguing of the first round.

Meanwhile, his younger brother and twenty-year-old wild card Philip Davydenko has drawn a tough first round meeting against 24-year-old Australian Matthew Ebden, who is enjoying the best ranking of his career at No. 63.

Top seeded Spaniard David Ferrer who will play his first match on Thursday evening, has a seemingly relatively straight forward path to the semi-finals, and is likely to face world No 88 Russian Alex Bogomolov Jr., who faces a qualifier in his first match, in the second round.

Second seed and world #11 Juan Monaco of Argentina makes his debut in the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur against Chinese Taipei wildcard Jimmy Wang, who will need to beat a qualifier to set a date with the world No. 11 on Wednesday or Thursday.

Fourth seeded 23-year-old Alexandr Dolgopolov, currently ranked No. 19, will face the winner of the first round match between Colombian Alejandro Falla and American Rajeev Ram in the second round.

In another interesting duel, fifth seed world No. 32 Feliciano Lopez will need to successfully negotiate past 24-year-old Slovak Lukas Lacko in the first round. Lacko had a strong six match winning run in the Australian Open earlier this year, where he was eventually disposed of by Rafael Nadal and also made it to the final of the PDZ Zagreb Indoors in February.

Sixth seed Pablo Andujar of Spain will face Uzbek Denis Istomin in the first round. Both 26-year-olds are ranked just five placed apart, with the higher ranked Andujar enjoying his career best ranking of No. 33.

Meanwhile, 31-year-old Lopez, who was in the top 20 as early as June this year, has yet to make a final in 2012, but enjoyed strong runs in the London Olympics, US Open and Australian Open, where he too was overcome by Nadal.

Another wildcard, comeback king American Brian Baker, will also face a qualifier in the first round, before a possible clash with the newly married eighth seed Austrian Jurgen Melzer, who is up against the lowest ranked main draw entry, 22-year-old Canadian Vasek Pospisil, in the first round.

The tournament is supported by the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia and Tourism Malaysia and sponsors that include 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. The event is sanctioned by the Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia. Tickets can be purchased by visiting the official website, www.MalaysianOpenTennis.com.

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Assri Comes Good

by Hussin Rahman (New Sarawak Tribune)

Kuching: Assri Merzuki at last won his first ITF Junior singles title when he beat Wong Chun – Hun of Hong Kong in the boys singles final of the 45Th Brunei ITF Junior Circuit Group 4 in Banar Seri Begawan yesterday.

Assri defeated Wong 6-0, 2-6, 6-2 in the final which lasted three an a half hour to make up for the pain of losing to the same opponent in the final of the 5th Melaka ITP International Tennis Championship in Ayer Keroh last week.

Florida-based Assri, who had great chances to win the match in Mekala, was beaten 3-6, 7-5 and 7-6 (3).

But there was no such mistake when the 17-years-old Sarawakian again met Wong in the absorbing final on the centre court at the National Tennis Centre, Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium in Jalan Berakas yesterday.

Assri’s victory also made up for his disappoiment in losing 6-3, 6-2, to Kelvin Lam Siu Fai on Hong Kong in the final of the same tournament in Brunei last year.

Assri, said his coach Doru Sorin Murariu, shed tears of joy at the end of the match which fulfilled his ambition of winning an ITF Junior singles title before he graduates to the senior ranks.

Murariu, who shared the good news from Assri with Sarawak Lawn Tennis Associationa (SLTA) president Dato’ Patrick Liew while they were at the SLTA Tennis Complex at around 11.00 AM yesterday, said the player deserved to win the title in Brunei as he had come very close to beating Wong in Melaka.

“Assri’s win is a reward for his hard work, dedication and commitment to becoming a good tennis professional. He has improved a lot in the past 18 months. In fact, he can  play with the men now”,said Murariu, who runs the Tennis Players Fitness Istitute in Florida where Assri is based for tranning and competitions.

Meanwhile Liew, who is playing a big part in making Assri dedicate his life to becoming a tennis professional three years ago, said the player’s victory in Brunei proved that Sarawak has players who can go far if they work hard and are given the right support by sponsors, the State Government, the association and coaches.

The sole Wi-Fi service providerin Sarawak, Danawa Resources Sdn, had two weeks ago came in to sponsor Assri with RM10,000 worth of sports attire and equipment for the four international ITF tournaments he was due to compete in this year.

Apart from the torunaments in Melaka and Brunei, Assri, who hails from Semariang Baru here, is also competing in the Sarawak Chief Minister’s Cup World ITF Junior in Kuching starting tomorrow and the Manila ITF Junior Group 1 tournament.

Carter Lin Wins Tournament in Honduras

Carter had a very successful week in Honduras.

He won the G5 ITF Juniors Tournament in singles and reached the semifinal in doubles with his partner Lamar Remy

Assri at Malaysian open, Kuala Lumpur 2012

September 27, 2012 TPFI   


Back from injury and with a point to prove, Chinese Taipei national Jimmy Wang is given the second singles wild card nod and will also partner Si Yew Ming in doubles main draw

The 2012 edition of the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur has pulled out all the stops in supporting the local tennis scene, handing out wild cards to no less than five of Malaysia’s best tennis players to compete in the US$ 1 million ATP World Tour tournament, which begins Saturday at Putra Stadium, Bukit Jalil.

No Malaysian has ever won an ATP 250 Series World Tour tennis match before, and this year, it will be up to national number one Si Yew Ming and a host of teenagers, including returning youngsters Ariez Elyaas Deen Heshaam and Ahmed Deedat Abdul Razak, along with debutants Syed Agil Syed Naguib and Mohd Assri Merzuki, to make history.

Rising star 18-year-old Ariez Elyaas has been given the distinction of playing as a wild card in the main draw of the singles, while Si Yew Ming, Ahmed Deedat, Syed Agil and Mohd Assri Merzuki have all been given wild card entries into the singles qualifying tournament that begins Saturday at 10AM. Yew Ming will also partner with singles main draw wild card recipient Jimmy Wang, of Chinese Taipei, to line up as a team in the doubles main draw.

Tournament Director Nick Freyer of organisers IMG praised the burgeoning talents of the Malaysian boys who have shown steady improvement since the tournament was launched,  and knows that exposure to the highest levels of the game are what the local players need to take their own games to the next level.

“One of our objectives in bringing the tournament here was to raise the expectations and standards of Malaysian tennis. Having each year provided these high level playing opportunities for our boys to go up against the stars of the ATP World Tour, we are gradually seeing the benefits of these and other LTAM efforts, with some exciting and young talented players coming through.  And it will only get better,” he said.

Si Yew Ming, the 33-year-old veteran of the Malaysian tennis scene, has seen his No. 1 ranking come under threat from Ariez this year, losing to the youngster in the final of Leg 1 of the National Malaysian Circuit. His performances in leading the Malaysian Davis Cup team, however, have been quite stellar. The strong serving Yew Ming only lost a single match as our nation once again advanced through to contest Group II promotion (but lost out after defeat to Kuwait).

With this being his fourth appearance in the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur, Yew Ming’s ability to apply what he has learnt from his past experiences in the tournament will be key as he strives for that elusive first win at Tour level.

Ariez Elyaas can also be considered a veteran of the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur, having participated in the last two editions, but the youngster has so far failed to make a mark against higher ranked Tour level players. The experience however certainly has paid off for him, as the teen picked up his first ever ATP point after victories in the qualifying and first round of the Laos ITF Futures held in October last year.

Now entering this tournament as the highest ranked Malaysian player (Si Yew Ming’s ranking has expired due to his absence from the tour), Ariez has be given the gilt edged opportunity of playing for the first time in the main draw of the singles. His wild card entry makes him the youngest Malaysian to ever play in the main draw of an ATP 250 Series tournament.

The local star will surely bank on the crowd at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium for support, and after his strong showing in the Davis Cup and landmark victory over Yew Ming in the final of Leg 1 of the National Malaysian Circuit in February, the confidence of this Kuching-born young man is at an all time high.

Just as Ariez’s victory over Yew Ming will drive him, the same can be said of Syed Agil’s win over Ariez in the semi-finals of Leg 4 of the National Malaysian Circuit, which was held in July. The 18-year-old went on to capture his first title of the year, beating Pruchya Isarov 7-6 (7-3) in the first set before the Thai retired due to injury.

Syed Agil, known for his strong net play, will be making his first appearance in the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur, and like Yew Ming and Assri, has been given the chance to shine in the singles qualifying draw.

Ahmed Deedat made his Malaysian Open debut last year and will be back for a second bite at the cherry after he was given a last minute wild card entry into the singles qualifying draw. With a previous high of No. 492 on the ITF junior rankings, the 18-year-old has slipped down to stand currently at No.610. He will, however, look to replicate the form he had in June when he made the semifinals of the Thamrin Cup International Junior Championships in Jakarta if he is to cause an upset this week.

The youngest and perhaps most exciting player rounding off the Malaysian contingent is 17-year-old Mohd Assri. Making his Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur debut in 2012, Assri has been making waves on the ITF Junior circuit this year, emerging champion in Brunei and Trinidad & Tobago, where he also captured the doubles crown with Canadian partner William Tutecky. He had also previously won a doubles crown with G. Moraru in the 2011 USA F15 Futures Doubles.

Currently boasting a junior combined ranking of 208, his soaring performances have earned him a deserving spot in this tournament, which will be a prime opportunity for the Sarawak-born youngster to make even more headlines and a shot at making history for tennis in Malaysia.  Officials of LTAM and all four players themselves joined Tournament Director Freyer at a “Media Gathering and Makan” and court-side photo shoot with celebrity guest Kei Nishikori of Japan at Stadium Putra today.


All eyes on Wang as he exorcises injury demons; Davydenko and Norman take final doubles wild card slot.

Meanwhile, back on Tour after a two year hiatus due to a near career ending wrist injury, 27-year-old Chinese Taipei national Jimmy Wang has been confirmed as the second main draw singles wild card recipient. Jimmy qualified for the main draw at the 2012 US Open and also had a good run at Wimbledon this year.

Ranked as high as No. 85 in March of 2006, Wang was forced off the tour in 2008 due to a wrist injury and two subsequent wrist surgeries. As a former Junior world No. 3 and rising star in Asian tennis, the set-back was a painful one for Wang.

He returned in late 2010 with a vengeance and growing in confidence with every game played, he has steadily clawed his way back towards reaching his goal of breaking into the top 100 and getting a ranking higher than the one he had before his injury.

Among his best achievements this year include making the semi-finals of two hard court Challenger tournaments in Australia in January and again the following month in Singapore.

More importantly, the Saudi-Arabian born right hander also did well in the Grand Slams. He made it through the Wimbledon qualifiers, but lost to Fernando Verdasco in the first round, and went one better at the US Open, making it to the second round but bowing out to Frenchman Gilles Simon.

Wang’s victory over Ivo Karlovic in the first round of the US Open was his first victory this year over a Top 100 player.

His affinity for hard courts, coupled with the expected home support he will enjoy as an Asian and the partner of Malaysian Si Yew Ming in the doubles, makes this wild card an interesting dark horse for success in the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur, and follows another comeback wild card story for the tournament, after American comeback kid Brian Baker was awarded the first main draw singles wild card.  Baker has since made it into the main draw, paving the way for Ariez’ place in the main draw of the singles.

The third singles wild card has been awarded to Philip Davydenko, brother of the inaugural tournament Champion Nikolay.

In the doubles, Russian Nikolay Davydenko and Belgian partner Dick Norman received the second and final doubles wild card for entry into the main draw. The 6’ 8” 41-year-old Norman is a doubles specialist and although he is currently ranked No. 67, he was in the doubles top-10 as recently as 2010.  As a tournament staple for the last four years, Davydenko’s familiarity with the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur and being one of three players to have held the singles champion trophy, combined with Norman’s firepower, makes this a pairing that could make a mark on the draw.  Should they themselves make it in to the main draw, their slot could go to another Malaysian pairing.

These final player announcements further compound the excitement of the most competitive Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur ever, with marquee attendees including World No. 5 David Ferrer of Spain who will play his first match on Thursday evening, and Argentina’s World No. 11 Juan Monaco, along with Asia’s leading tennis star and World No. 18 Kei Nishikori of Japan.  Nishikori will be on hand Saturday at 3PM to supervise the main singles draw ceremony, which will take place for the public at the entrance foyer of Putra Stadium.

World No. 19 Alexandr Dolgopolov will also feature amongst the top seeds, together with afore-mentioned tournament stalwart Nikolay Davydenko, who won the title in 2009. Meanwhile, American Brian Baker, who received the only other singles main draw wild card entry last week, will be making his debut at the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur. Similar to fellow wild card recipient Wang, the 27-year-old Baker returned to form this year after close to a decade of injury struggles.
Players from over 21 countries and across four continents will contest the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur  which will be broadcast live to over 350 million people across the globe.  The tournament was given a further boost this week when Astro confirmed that they will be producing matches for the international broadcasts in High Definition (HD) for the first time.

The tournament is supported by the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia and Tourism Malaysia and sponsors that include 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. The event is sanctioned by the Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia. Tickets can be purchased by visiting the official website, www.MalaysianOpenTennis.com.
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