CIMB MALAYSIAN OPEN: Comes close to making final
IT seemed a remote possibility just a week ago but Low Wee Wern had an historic all-local women's final in her sights at the CIMB Malaysian Open at The Curve in Mutiara Damansara yesterday only to fall three points short.
Raneem El Weleily held her nerve after blowing two match points to claim an 11-8, 9-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9 semi-final win in 64 minutes to book a meeting with seven-time Malaysian Open champion Nicol David.
Nicol again found herself in a spot of bother before coming from behind to down Laura Massaro of England 10-12, 11-6, 11-7, 11-8 in pursuit of a record-equalling 63rd career WSA Tour title.
But as has been the case this week, Wee Wern gained more admirers as she came so close to adding World No 2 Raneem to her list of casualties.
Wee Wern stretched the second seed to five games for the first time in six meetings and having recovered from 1-5 down in the last game, saved two match points to leave the match on a knife-edge.
But a Wee Wern drive into the tin elicited groans from the crowd before both players were applauded off the court following a dramatic battle.
"I knew I had an outside chance of winning but Raneem has got good hands, puts the ball in the nicks, hangs in there and keeps it tight.
"She had a good 5-1 lead (in the fifth game) but it was neck-and-neck all the way. I think played well and had really good matches," said Wee Wern, who had scalped two top-five players in Jenny Duncalf and Madeline Perry before almost adding Raneem to that list.
Raneem was glad to reach her first Malaysian Open final after a strenuous workout against Wee Wern.
"It was a very tough match and Wee Wern has improved a lot. Her game is very annoying as I had to be persistent and consistent to keep up.
"I was a bit nervous and I don't know what happened in the fifth but I was glad to push through. I was not on my toes and hope tomorrow (today) will be better," said Raneem, who is 0-8 against Nicol.
Despite her erratic form, Nicol remains odds-on to claim an eighth title in her 11th consecutive Malaysian Open final.
Nicol squandered a 10-7 lead in the first game as Laura scored five points in a row but the top seed recovered her poise to win the next three games.
"It was a close first game, I was leading. She just relaxed and went for her shots but I didn't do anything wrong really.
"I maybe stepped back a bit instead of taking control but I knew I had more in me to take it up a notch. Looking forward to playing Raneem," said Nicol.
TODAY -- Men's Final: Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) v Tarek Momen (Egy).
Women's Final: Nicol David (Mas) v Raneem El Weleily (Egy). *Finals start at 3pm at the Curve.