Garcia stuns Bong to gate crash into quarters
By Alex Wan – Squash Mad Asian Bureau Editor
Vivian Rhamanan survived a five-setter in the final match of the night to ensure local representation in the last eight after his fellow compatriots all lost out. He had to dig deep into his reserves to dictate the pace against his much younger opponent, and it was apparent through the match that the times he is able to force upon the slower pace, he would be in the driver’s seat.
The Singaporean veteran prevailed after 51 minutes, 11-3, 4-11, 13-11, 8-11, 11-9. The victory couldn’t have come at a better time after Rhamanan was beaten by Pragasm only a month ago in Australia.
“I’m definitely happy with the win. I lost to him 3-0 in Darwin (Australia), so I knew his strengths and weaknesses. I learned from that match and went in with a game plan to slow the game down and push everything to the back, be patient and wait for an opportunity to play my shots” said Rhamanan after.
Top seed Henry Leung cruised into the next round of the Singapore Squash Open 2017 after seeing off Malaysian Ryan Pasqual in straight games. He seemed slow to start but was nevertheless in control for most parts of the match.
After his 31-minute match, Leung said, “I’m quite satisfied with my game today, and definitely happy with the outcome. But this court takes some time getting used to and I’m sure I will play even better tomorrow. I feel that in comparison to other courts, it is less bouncy.”
Philippines’ Robert Garcia once again turned the tables over third seed Valentino Bong in an intense and drama filled first round encounter, with Bong playing the last few points with a cramp on his right leg.
Many in the crowd already knew of the rivalry between the pair and had expected nothing less than an explosive game. They did not disappoint and it was a feast for the crowd in the stands with both players making some unbelievable retrievals, especially in the front court.
“I’m definitely very happy with the win today. We always have very tough, intense and physical battles, and today was no different. I had a tough match yesterday, so that made it even harder today. But because it’s always very intense, it makes me push myself even more against him,” said Garcia who has now had more court time than any other player.
Singapore qualifier Benedict Chan fell to India’s Ramit Tandon in an entertaining match where both players tried to outsmart each other with their racket skills. Both players do not hit hard or engage in high intensity rallies much, but their flair made the match entertaining for the mostly local crowd in the stands. Tandon’s speed on court, however, was a notch above Chan’s, and that was what won him the match.
In the following match, Samuel Kang also lost out to the experienced James Huang of Chinese Taipei. While it was a straight games victory for Huang, the fifth seeded tour veteran was made to work in most of the rallies. Kang was equally as fast and agile, but Huang’s experience and choosing the right shots at the right time was clearly superior between the pair.
Second seed Chris Lo of Hong Kong overcame first game jitters to take out Malaysian qualifier Mohd Farez Izwan 3-1. The Malaysian came out firing in the first game, racing to 4-1 before Lo catches up to 5-6, after which Izwan nets five points in a row to take the lead.
The second was the most closely contested, which Lo won, who afterwards ran away with the following two games with a solid display of textbook squash that seem to push Izwan to go more for his shots, many of which found the tin.
Local wild card Chua Man Chin gave a good account of himself when he faced fourth seed Elvinn Keo of Malaysia. The 20-year matched the experienced Malaysian for most parts of the opening and third game, but was rarely in control.
“It was a good experience out there. I wasn’t expecting him to be playing at such a pace and he caught me by surprise. It took me a while to find my space and lengths, but I eventually got there. In the third game, I just ran out of steam from playing at the pace he set. It will be a learning experience for me to not get too absorbed into my opponent’s style of play, but rather to play my own game,” said Man Chin after his first appearance on a PSA main draw.
Henry Leung (HKG) bt Ryan Pasqual (MAS) 11-8, 11-7, 11-9 (31m)
Graham Miao (HKG) bt Arnold Phat (THA) 11-5, 11-7, 12-10 (28m)
Ramit Tandon (IND) bt Benedict Chan (SIN) 11-8, 11-6, 11-5 (25m)
James Huang (TPE) bt Samuel Kang (SIN) 11-4, 11-5, 11-7 (39m)
Robert Garcia (PHI) bt Valentino Bong (MAS) 11-4, 4-11, 12-10, 5-11, 11-8 (69m)
Chris Lo (HKG) bt Mohd Farez Izwan (MAS) 5-11, 11-6, 11-2, 11-4 (31m)
Elvinn Keo (MAS) bt Chua Man Chin (SIN) 12-10, 11-8, 11-9 (31m)
Vivian Rhamanan (SIN) bt Darren Rahul Pragasm (MAS) 11-3, 4-11, 13-11, 8-11, 11-9 (51m)
Pictures by Singapore Squash