Garcia break local hearts in Singapore
By Alex Wan- Squash Mad Asian Bureau Editor
Philippines’ giant killing qualifier Robert Garcia continued his gallant run here in Singapore after seeing off local hero Vivian Rhamanan in straight games. Even though Garcia had played two five setters in the last two days, there was no effects of the physical torment showing tonight as he moved freely on court despite the many times Rhamanan was controlling the rallies. Even with the home crowd behind him, Rhamanan could not find an answer to the flair of the lanky Filipino, who ended the match 11-7, 11-8, 11-7 in 30 minutes.
“I am very happy to make the semis here. I have played him three times this year, so I knew what I had to do to beat him. When I saw him in my quarter, I was quite happy with the draw. I am still sore from the last few days but I have a good team around me here cheering, and that motivates me to fight harder. In there, the mental strength is greater than the physical, and that is what pulls me through,” said Robert Garcia after qualifying for the last four.
James Huang also upset the books as he took out second seed Chris Lo of Hong Kong. The Chinese Taipei veteran, who is known for his speed on court, won 11-6, 9-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-2 in 58 minutes. Huang later said :
“Happy to win! I knew it wasn’t going to be very tough. In the second and fourth, I lost a little focus in the beginning and I had to come back each time. We know each other very well because I used to train with them in Hong Kong. But he plays a little different now. Maybe it’s the effect of the new coach and it took me some time to get used to his new style.”
“I played Robert (Garcia) in March this year in Hong Kong and I won 3-0. But I’ve been watching him and he’s improved a lot now, so I’d expect another tough game. I’ll be sure to get myself ready.”
In the most dramatic match of the day, India’s Ramit Tandon came back from the brink of defeat to see off fourth seeded crowd favourite Elvinn Keo in just under an hour. Tandon, who only a week ago retired injured at the Qatar Circuit fell behind 0-2 to the skilful Malaysian, who practically gave away the third game. Keo came back firing in the fourth and was in total control, eventually pulling away to match ball at 10-7. However, he failed to convert any of them and instead lost the next 5 points, with the last one a harsh no let, to be forced into playing the decider.
Like the fourth, he started off very confidently and the harsh call at the end of the fourth seem to have fired him up as he went to 5-0 with some blistering shot-making he is known for. But Tandon wasn’t to be written off as he slowly edged himself back into the game and eventually walking out a deserving 7-11, 8-11, 11-2, 12-10, 12-10 winner in just under an hour.
“I was lucky. That’s all I got to say. I wasn’t even playing as well as I can. After hurting my ankle in Qatar last week, it’s in the back of my head and I am still afraid to push myself mentally. But as I pulled back closer after falling behind, things got better and I just tried harder. Right now, I’m just going to focus on my recovery for tomorrow and enjoy my win,” Ramit Tandon said after his win.
In the last match of the evening, top seed Henry Leung saw off Shanghai-based Graham Miao comfortable in 24 minutes.
Henry Leung (HKG) but Graham Miao (HKG) 11-5, 11-8, 11-6 (24m)
Ramit Tandon (IND bt Elvinn Keo (MAS) 11-7, 11-8, 2-11, 10-12, 12-10 (56m)
Robert Garcia (PHI) bt Vivian Rhamanan (SIN) 11-7, 11-8, 11-7 (30m)
James Huang (TPE) bt Chris Lo (HKG) 11-6, 9-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-2 (58m)
Pictures by Singapore Squash