Saturday March 16, 2013
Squash: First home title for M'sian Ivan as he edges Egypt’s Ahmed in 5-set thriller
Reports by KNG ZHENG GUAN
KUALA LUMPUR: Top seed Ivan Yuen was forced to dig deep into his reserves before winning the men’s title at the NSC Series No. 1 squash championships at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
There was, however, no double joy for Malaysia as national junior Rachel Arnold’s fairy-tale run finally came to an end. She lost 11-9, 11-6, 5-11, 11-9 to Denmark’s Line Hansen in the women’s final.
Ivan produced a scintillating performance, coming from behind to beat Egypt’s Ahmed Abdel Fattah 10-12, 6-11, 11-5, 11-1, 11-8 in 66 minutes for his second Professional Squash Association (PSA) title.
The 23-year-old Ivan did not get off on the right foot and looked dead and buried early on as his 19-year-old opponent dominated the early proceedings.
But the Selangor-born Ivan clawed back to take the third set before levelling the tie by winning the fourth 11-1.
Fattah briefly led 5-2 in the deciding rubber, but former Asian Junior champion Ivan was unstoppable as he powered home 11-8 to emerge champion.
“It’s definitely not an easy match as I was under quite a bit of pressure. It didn’t help that my opponent was in control in the first two sets,” said Ivan.
“But I knew I had to step up the pace and tighten things at the back. I also tried not to think too much and just focused on getting one point at a time. This is my first home win as I won my previous title in Chennai. I’m really quite pleased.
“Although it’s a minor title, the win has boosted my confidence,” added Ivan who will participate in the CIMB KL Open from March 26-31.
Earlier, 16-year-old Rachel, a surprise finalist, found world No. 23 Hansen too tough to handle.
“I made a lot of mistakes and I was a little nervous in the opening stages,” said Rachel.
“But I had an amazing week. Maybe after this week, I might consider taking up squash full time,” added the Bukit Jalil Sports School student.
For Hansen, it was her 12th Women’s Squash Association (WSA) title.
She admitted that Rachel gave her a run for her money.
“She caught me off-guard with her serve so many times. No one has aced me at serve in a long time so it was a little weird,” said Hansen.
“I’ve seen Rachel play in the past, but she has really improved a lot this time. She’s really a tough opponent,” she added.