ABN AMRO Australian Open champion Ahmad Siti Zalina

Siti Zalina Ahmad

Saturday, February 16, 2008
Reigning ABN AMRO Australian Open champion Ahmad Siti Zalina believes she can successfully defend her singles crown, less than 24 hours before the tournament explodes into action.

The Malaysian superstar, who is one of the most decorated bowlers of all time, has won the past two Commonwealth Games gold medals and was expected to add a World Championship to her glittering resume last month.

During the semi-finals, however, Siti Zalina ran into a rampant Val Smith, who went on to lift the prestigious crown.

Nonetheless, Siti Zalina has returned to Melbourne to defend her ABN AMRO Australian Open title, which will fire into action tomorrow.

“I don’t think the World Championships will have much to do with this tournament,” Siti Zalina said as she strolled through Queen Victoria Market earlier today (17/2).

“I’m just trying to go as a far as I can.

“I haven’t had a bowl at Darebin (International Sports Centre) yet, but I’ve had one at Richmond and that was good.

“It should be a very tough tournament.”

During the opening round, the tournament’s number one seed will face Queensland qualifier Christina Pavlov, before bracing herself for a potential fourth round showdown with New Zealand star Jan Khan.

Before Siti Zalina tackles Pavlov, however, she will have to wait for the opening rounds of the men’s and women’s triples, which commence tomorrow.

In the men’s triples, the New Zealand combination of Andrew Todd, Ali Forsyth and Gary Lawson have been installed as the tournament’s number one seeds, while World Championship silver medalists Kelsey Cottrell, Julie Keegan and Claire Duke will carry the mantle in the women’s equivalent.

In the blue ribbon men’s singles, reigning Commonwealth Games gold medalist Kelvin Kerkow tops the seedings, with newly crowned World Champion Safuan Said on the next line of betting.

The ABN AMRO Australian Open, which will be held in Melbourne from February 17 to 23, is the most prestigious event on the Bowls Australia calendar and continues to go from strength to strength.

With $120,000 up for grabs, it is the nation’s most lucrative bowls event and will feature singles, pairs and triples for both men and women.

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