Syafiq-Aifa eyes first Asian games squash mixed Doubles gold

22 Jul 2023 05:43pm
National mixed team squash players Aifa Azman (right) and Muhammad Syafiq Mohd Kamal (left) - Photo by Bernama
National mixed team squash players Aifa Azman (right) and Muhammad Syafiq Mohd Kamal (left) - Photo by Bernama
KUALA LUMPUR - National squash mixed doubles pair Mohammad Syafiq Kamal-Aifa Azman are setting their sights on becoming the first-ever mixed doubles champions of the Asian Games, which will be making its debut in Hangzhou, China, from Sept 23 to Oct 8.

The country’s top seeds received added motivation as their new game plans and techniques worked well to clinch the Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) Invitational Mixed Doubles Championships, today.

Mohammad Syafiq, 26, said after losing to eventual champions Harinder Pal Singh-Dipika Pallikal of India at the inaugural 2023 Asian Squash Mixed Doubles Championship semi-finals, last month, they have been working hard to improve their game to ensure the Asian Games gold will not slip away.

"We are now better in terms of physical and mental strength and we wanted to win as many matches as we can. It will help us to arrive in Hangzhou with high confidence and not worried about facing any opponents.

"When we play Harinder-Dipika before this, we played a game they were comfortable to win. So we are trying to have a variety of shots, fast and slow games in this tournament, and hoping to improve further towards the Asian Games,” he told reporters after the prize-giving ceremony.

Meanwhile, women’s singles world number 29, Aifa expressed her confidence to win the Asian Games gold based on their experience during the last Asian Mixed Doubles Championships especially the lessons learned from the defeat against Harinder-Dipika.

"We know everyone is improving towards the Asian Games, so we have to stay on top of our game and keep improving. We started to study the Indian pair’s game since the defeat and working on the weaknesses and strengthening our combinations,” she said.

Apart from Harinder-Dipika, Aifa named Hong Kong pairs of Tong Tze Wing-Tang Ming Hong and Lee Ka Yi-Wong Chi Him as the main threats to their quest for gold in the Asian Games.

Mohammad Syafiq-Aifa beat compatriots Muhammad Addeen Idrakie Bahtiar-Noor Ainaa Amani Ampandi 11-2, 11-5 in 27 minutes to clinch the invitational tournament title at the National Squash Centre, Bukit Jalil.
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Earlier, Malaysia’s men’s doubles pair Duncan Lee-Muhammad Hafiz Zhafri Abdul Harif defeated Tze Wing-Ming Hong 11-6, 11-7 in the 3rd/4th place-off.

The country’s other Asian Games medal hopeful, who was also the Asian Mixed Doubles Championships runners-up, Ivan Yuen-Rachel Arnold withdrew in the quarter-finals on Thursday due to health reasons.

The mixed doubles event would be making its Asian Games debut at the Hangzhou Games which was delayed a year by the COVID-19 pandemic. - BERNAMA