Gurshan Singh marches into semis in dramatic style
By Alex Wan – Squash Mad Asian Bureau Editor
SINGAPORE – Malaysia is assured of a finalist on Sunday after Gurshan Singh and Elvinn Keo both won their quarter final matches in contrasting fashion. While Elvinn Keo completely outplayed his Korean opponent, Gurshan Singh had to save game balls in every game before winning in 42 minutes.
Having had to battle through the qualifiers, Gurshan Singh showed no signs of fatigue as the 20 year old once again showcased some beautiful squash as he battled through three games against an equally talented Henry Leung.
Thrice, Leung had game ball opportunities but just failed to convert either of them. In the first game, Singh came back from 7-10 down to clinch five points in a row to take the lead. In the second, it was a similar situation as he saved two game balls from 8-10, then another at 10-11 before a stroke and a no let against Leung gave the Malaysian a two-game lead.
By the second half of the second game, there were far too many traffic problems, with both players getting into each other’s way. While the referee did try to control the situation, the level of consistency of decisions remain to be questioned. The interferences carried over into the third as both players continued to collide. It even got to a point where the coach from Hong Kong was vocally questioning the referees.
Once again, Leung who got to game ball first and Singh came back to level. The last couple of points was exciting but sadly, most ended as let decisions. Singh then got to his first match ball at 11-10, Leung saved and Singh would win the next 2 rallies to get into his first $5k semi-final.
Over in the other court, Elvinn Keo played a focused game to completely outplay his world ranked 239 opponent, Woo Chang Wook of Korea. While Woo is known to be a good retriever, the quality of Keo’s front court game was simply outstanding today.
“It looks easy from the outside, but I had put all my focus into the match. I am trying to play every match as if it’s a final and it shows today, I can be more in control if I want to. I’m happy to come out with this result and I am looking forward to playing Gurshan (Singh) tomorrow. He’s playing well and even though he’s my junior, I have lots of respect for him and hopefully, I’ll come even more prepared tomorrow,” said Elvinn Keo, who has climbed 6 places in the latest world rankings to 93.
Malaysian pair Addeen Idrakie and Valentino Bong faced each other for a place in the semi-finals in the top half of the draw. After taking the tight first game which could have gone either way, Idrakie looked to have gain a little more control in his game and took the second 11-9, before winning the third comfortably.
“I played well today and stuck to my game plan of trying to volley everything that I could. I have been training well lately and I am happy to come out with this result,” said Idrakie, who is currently studying in the University of Malaya pursuing a Sports Management degree.
In the final match of the evening, second seed James Huang battled it out with Hong Kong’s Tang Ming Hong, who at 23, is 8 years junior to the Taiwanese. The opening game was close, with both players trading blows before Tang closed it 11-9. The more experienced Huang squeezed in the second 12-10 and took the lead after getting the third 11-6. But in the end, after 74 minutes of court time, youth prevailed as the younger of the pair won the last two games, and a place in the semi-finals tomorrow against Addeen Idrakie.
A delighted Tang said later, “I was lucky to win the first. Maybe he wasn’t as warmed up yet and in the next two, you could see he played a lot better. I also made quite a few more mistakes then, but overall I’m satisfied with how I played today but I think I could do better, with less mistakes.”
QUARTER FINAL RESULTS:
Gurshan Singh (MAS) bt Henry Leung (HKG) 12-10, 13-11, 13-11 (42m)
Elvinn Keo (MAS) bt Woo Chang Wook (KOR) 11-4, 11-8, 11-6 (22m)
Addeen Idrakie (MAS) bt Valentino Bong (MAS) 12-10, 11-9, 11-5 (24m)
Tang Ming Hong (HKG) bt James Huang (TPE) 11-9, 10-12, 6-11, 11-8, 11-7 (74m)
Pictures by Singapore Squash Rackets Association