Monday, April 15, 2024

Ivan Yuen, Harinder Singh and Mayar Hany gatecrash quarters in Macau

Ivan Yuen, Harinder Singh and Mayar Hany gate crashes quarters in Macau
By Alex Wan – Squash Mad Asian Bureau Editor


Today was a day of best performances as Ivan Yuen, Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu and Mayar Hany reached their first quarter finals of a $50k event. It was certainly a fitting day to do so for Yuen, who turned 26 today.

Ivan Yuen and Leo Au have been playing each other since junior days and both are good friends. This was going to go to the wire even on paper, and true to the hype, it did, as went on for a good 72 minutes with the Malaysian upstaging the higher ranked Leo Au in four close games.

The first game was neck to neck, Yuen opening a 2-point game several times to 8-6. Two long punishing rallies followed, of which both went Au’s way to draw level. They split the next pair of points before Yuen closed out 11-9.

In the second, it was reverse, as Au was leading marginally and eventually got to game ball at 10-7, which Yuen will save 2 before Au draws level at a game each. Yuen has been the dominant one so far, controlling the rallies most of the time while Au tries to be slowing it down on this dead court.

Leo Au chases down the ball in his match against Ivan Yuen

Third game and Yuen gets a good start to 3-0, but then blows it away losing 5 points in a row. He then gets to game point at 10-9 and a clear stroke was somewhat given as a let much to his disbelief. That decision somewhat got him pumped up and was evident in the way he was striking in the next few rallies that would win him the game for a 2-1 lead.

Playing on confidence and momentum by now, Yuen was in total control and closed out the match on his third game ball with a cross court backhand kill, to which he celebrated with a huge scream in the court.

“I think I played well today. I was also excited about my birthday and that I wanted to do well for myself. It’s my first quarters of a $50k event, so I’m really happy about it.

Leo and I have been playing each other for a long time, since our junior days, so I knew I had a chance and it was going to be tough. In the beginning, I was trying to match him point for point and not making any mistakes. I could tell from the knock up he wanted to keep the ball dead and not so bouncy, so I had to keep the tempo up.

I don’t have anything special planned for today. I just hope to play well again and maybe get another upset tomorrow – that’ll be really nice,” said Ivan Yuen, the world number 53.

On court next was an all-Hong Kong clash between Max Lee and Yip Tsz Fung, a repeat of the Hong Kong Nationals final, where Yip beat his more illustrious compatriot. Yip had also recently beaten Miguel Rodriguez at the Hong Kong Open and Max Lee had a dream run up to the semis of the same event, so both players are on a high.

As one would expect, playing with someone you train with each day is never going to be an easy one. It didn’t start out as close as we’d expect, with Lee romping home the first game for the loss of only 3 points. That got Yip’s engine running as he came back convincingly to take the next 11-6.

The third was certainly the game changer, with both players trading points and seem to always know where the ball will be each time after it leaves their opponent’s racket. But it was a game for Yip to lose as he let slip a 9-7 lead and lost 4 points in a row to go behind.

Max asserted his dominance in the fourth, led all the way and never looked back.

Max Lee got the better of compatriot Yip Tsz Fung this time

Later, he shared, “I was well prepared for today against Yip. He’s up and coming and had just beaten Miguel (Rodriguez) in Hong Kong, which surprised many, but not to me at all. Plus, he’s just won the World University Champs, so he’s been playing well. I lost to him the last time at the Hong Kong Nationals and since then he’s improved even more, so I knew I had to play my best. It’s never easy playing a team mate, this was a 5-50 game, and I am happy to come out the winner.

Tomorrow I play Ivan (Yuen), he’s just beaten Leo (Au) so he should be playing well. The last time we played at the HKFC International, I lost, so I have to be very careful again. I’ll just rest well today, eat well – maybe not too many Portuguese egg tarts, and play my best tomorrow.”

In another upset of the day, Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu took out 6th seed Nicolas Mueller of Switzerland in four games 11-8, 10-12, 12-10, 11-8 in just under 50 minutes. It did not come without drama as both times in the second and third game, the Indian had led 10-8 only to allow Mueller to draw level. While he lost the first of the two, he did not allow the same to happen. That could’ve been a major game changer, to go 2-1 down having had a pair of game balls for both.

Only a month ago, the pair met in the Hong Kong Open, with the Swiss winning. It was sweet revenge for Singh Sandhu as it would be his first win over Mueller since their junior days and this would be his biggest result on the PSA World Tour.

“I came very close (to beating Nicolas) in Hong Kong last month, having led 2-1 as well, so that played in my head too today. I had to keep my focus 100% at every rally, then refocus and again and again. Just had to do that consistently throughout the match. I managed to keep my cool throughout and I’m into my first $50k quarters,” said a happy Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu.

Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu exacts revenge on Nicolas Muller after losing in Hong Kong last month

Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu’s opponent tomorrow will be room mate Saurav Ghosal, who took out qualifier Elvinn Keo of Malaysia in straight games. The first halves of each game was competitive, but the much higher ranked Indian was too much for Keo, who fizzled out in similar fashion in all three games.

“I moved pretty well I think and he’s a player that goes for a lot (of winners) and credit to him, he had some really good ones out there. I just had to keep it simple and tight.

I think it’s the first time two Indians are in the quarters of a $50k event. It’s amazing, and I’m really happy for Harinder. He’s my best friend and it’s always a challenge playing him. I just have to do the things I’m capable of as he’s also playing well. It’ll be fun!” said Ghosal.

Top seed Marwan Elshorbagy and 4th seed Daryl Selby were both stretched by their opening round opponents and forced to come back from a game down. Elshorbagy took 58 minutes to see off Australia’s Rex Hedrick 6-11, 12-10, 11-6, 11-7 while Selby, playing the last match of the evening, won 5-11, 11-5, 11-4, 12-10 in 67 minutes against Joel Makin of Wales, whom he also beat last week in Nantes.

“I think I started a little slow today and lost a little concentration. I got into it much better in the second game, but I’m happy with the way the match went. I feel I needed something like this to get me going in the tournament. All credit to Rex too as he played very well today. He surprised me with quite a few shots in there,” said Elshorbagy.

Meanwhile, Daryl Selby paid tribute to his opponent, “I knew it’ll be tough as Joel’s ranking is certainly not a reflection of his capabilities. He’ll probably be beating some top players in time to come. I struggled with my length a bit at the start. But I’m happy with the way I played after that.”

Daryl Selby overcame a first game loss to check into the quarters

Alan Clyne, the Scottish number one, too had a tough opening day, coming back from 2-1 down to oust Joshua Masters in five games over 59 minutes.

Clyne said, “I thought I did well to come back (from 2-1 down). Josh was taking everything short so I had to hang in there. He got a bit tired in the end I think, and I’m happy with the win.”

Nafiizwan Adnan of Malaysia, the surprise semi-finalist in last year’s event had the easiest afternoon, taking out local wildcard Steven Liu in under 20 minutes, 11-6, 11-4, 11-6.


Mayar Hany gets biggest win

In the women’s, Egypt’s Mayar Hany turned the tables over her compatriot Heba El Torky to mark her first quarter final appearance. Ranked at 37 and 15 places below, the lanky Mayar Hany made full use of her explosive style of play to unsettle El Torky, whom she lost to in the Egyptian Nationals in April.

Having won a close first game 11-9, Hany slumped to a 2-11 loss in the next game, after a series of quick errors saw her go 0-6 down. She squeezed through the next game, taking it on the tie break 13-11 and followed that up with an 11-7 game to send her through.

19-year old Egyptian Mayar Hany powers into the last eight

“This is my first time in a $50k quarters so it feels amazing to win today. I didn’t think I could to be honest, but as the match went on, I felt better about it. I only played Heba last week and I lost 3-2, so this is a good result for me. I’m not sure who I’ll play tomorrow, but right now, I just want to settle and feel happy about my results for today,” Mayar Hany said.

Local wildcard in the women’s event, Ivy Liu, had earlier started the day for the women’s event when she faced Malaysia’s Delia Arnold. Having drawn Annie Au in the last two years, this was certainly a fresh change for the 25-year old. However, she was no match for Arnold, who is ranked more than 90 places above. A quick fire 15 minutes in straight games and Arnold was in the next round.

The bubbly Liu was certainly not disappointed despite the loss, adding, “It’s nice not to play Annie Au again (like the last two years). I think I played the best that I could, but there were just a little too many mistakes. Overall, it’s a good experience for me as always playing people much higher ranked.”

Local wildcard Ivy Liu returns a shot to Delia Arnold

Only a year ago, Joelle King was using her last pegged ranking after coming back from injury and today, she was on court as the top seed. She started her campaign here in Macau with an 11-4, 11-9, 11-8 win over South Africa’s Siyoli Waters.

“I haven’t played Siyoli for a while and it took me a while to gain focus in court today. I felt a little flat today and she being such an athletic player, she took full advantage of it. It’s the first game of the tournament and I’m just happy to get through in three,” said the Kiwi.

Emily Whitlock of England overcame hard hitting Egyptian teenager Hana Moataz in straight games and later said it was her age and experience that ultimately won her the match.

Age and experience won the day for Emily Whitlock

Australia’s 6th seed Donna Urquhart had a tougher afternoon in comparison, having been taken the distance by Hong Kong’s Liu Tsz-Ling. After splitting the first four games at 2-each, the fifth was somewhat one sided. A couple of mistakes from Liu seem to have rattled her confidence as Urquhart ran away with the game 11-2.

Having torn her calf in Hong Kong, Urquhart was wary of that, “I was trying to get better in time for this. I felt confident about it holding up but I was still worried about it. I tried not to think about it but it was hard not to. I’m just relieved to have got through. I knew Tsz Ling was too good a player to have an easy match, I knew I had fire in my hands. “

Annie Au and Joey Chan of Hong Kong were both tested in their opening rounds but came through, and will play each other tomorrow. The left handed Annie Au won a tough 4-game battle against France’s Coline Aumard in 47 minutes, while Chan saw off the challenge of Egypt’s Nada Abbas who surprised Chan.

A little traffic problem in the Coline Aumard (right) and Annie Au match

“I was surprised at how hard she hits the ball. I’ve never seen her play so I’m not used to her style, and it took a while to get used to. She’s still a junior and the power in her shots is a surprise. I’m happy I was able to overall control the match and dominate the T. The second game was crucial as that was the time she stopped playing much lengths and pretty much attacked everything that she could,” said Chan.

Eight seeded Dane Line Hansen meanwhile, won against American Olivia Blatchford in 44 minutes.

“We’re close in ranking and we’ve had many close matches, so I knew we had another in hand. I think I played alright and the first game was crucial. Because I knew it’ll be close, there was no pressure on me going on court thinking I’d win, I didn’t feel the need to. It’s always nice playing Olivia as she’s a fair player and we have good games,” said Hansen, who will play training partner here and top seed Joelle King in the quarters tomorrow.

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Results (First Round):

Ivan Yuen (Mas) bt Leo Au (Hkg) 11-9, 9-11, 11-9, 11-7 (72m)
Max Lee (Hkg) bt Yip Tsz Fung (Hkg) 11-3, 6-11, 11-9, 11-6 (41m)
Alan Clyne (Sco) bt Joshua Masters (Eng) 11-13, 11-3, 7-11, 11-6, 11-3 (59m)
Marwan Elshorbagy (Egy) bt Rex Hedrick (Aus) 6-11, 12-10, 11-6, 11-7 (58m)
Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu (Ind) bt Nicolas Mueller (Sui) 11-8, 10-12, 12-10, 11-8 (41m)
Saurav Ghosal (Ind) bt Elvinn Keo (Mas) 11-7, 11-5, 11-7 (34m)
Nafiizwan Adnan bt Steve Liu (Mac) 11-6, 11-4, 11-6 (18m)
Daryl Selby (Eng) bt Joel Makin (Wal) 5-11, 11-5, 11-4, 12-10 (67m)

Delia Arnold (Mas) bt Ivy Liu (Mac) 11-2, 11-5, 11-3 (15m)
Mayar Hany (Egy) bt Heba El Torky (Egy) 11-9, 2-11, 13-11, 11-7 (42m)
Donna Urquhart (Aus) bt Liu Tsz Ling (Hkg) 11-8, 8-11, 11-3, 11-13, 11-2 (51m)
Emily Whitlock (Eng) bt Hana Moataz (Egy) 11-4, 11-7, 11-6 (30m)
Joelle King (Nzl) bt Siyoli Waters (Rsa) 11-4, 11-9, 11-8 (32m)
Line Hansen (Den) bt Olivia Blatchford (Usa) 12-10, 11-7, 5-11, 11-5 (44m)
Joey Chan (Hkg) bt Nada Abbas (Egy) 11-5, 11-9, 9-11, 11-4 (39m)
Annie Au (Hkg) bt Coline Aumard (Fra) 11-8, 10-12, 11-7, 11-9 (47m)

Pictures by  Macau Squash Association


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