Singapore 2017

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Singapore Open 2017
05-10 Dec, Singapore, $5k

10-Dec, Final:
Masterclass from Tandon to take the title
Alex Wan reports

The final of the Singapore Squash Open 2017 turned out to be a sombre affair as India’s Ramit Tandon was in a league of his own this afternoon and totally outplayed James Huang of Taiwan in straight games.

While it may have looked one sided, it was still clearly a feast for the capacity Sunday afternoon crowd, who got treated to a feast of trickery from Tandon. The world number 88 Tandon came firing right from the start and never allowed Huang to settle, winning the first game 11-3 very quickly.

In the second Huang seem to have settled much better, matching Tandon for most parts of the rallies especially in the first half. But it was still Tandon who was far more controlling and dictating the pace of the rallies. His front court game was very evidently troubling Huang, who on many occasions was left wondering where the next shot would be going.

Tandon edged ahead a little 4-2 and 6-4, before breaking away to 8-5 and eventually winning it 11-6, with the last two points being tins from the Taiwanese number one. The third was clearly a one-sided affair, with Tandon now playing more confidently than ever in the match, executing his shots with conviction and racing to a 6-0 lead.

He’d drop another two points from the tin, before three backhand drives that died in the back ended the match after 32 minutes, 11-3, 11-6, 11-3.

The newly crowned Singapore Squash Open 2017 champion said after: “I’m happy to get through today. Like I said, I’m not even moving 100% and my goal was only to complete the event, so this win is really a bonus. Today I was able to execute my game plan. I knew he is very fit and he moves a lot. I tried not to make as many mistakes and things just turned out my way.”

When asked of his next event, Tandon, a native of Kolkata but based out of New York now said, “I’m going back to India for a bit and I’ll see if I am well enough to play in Qatar next, if not it’ll be the Tournament of Champions in New York”.

Huang, however, was still happy with his tournament, having been disappointingly beaten in the quarter final stage last year as the second seed.

Huang said “Ramit (Tandon) was just far too good today. I haven’t been feeling as great all week and I feel a little tight. I knew he was a good player so I know what I was in for. I played well for part of the second game, but I was just not able to maintain that. I’m still happy to have made the final here and overall, I had a good tournament.

"It’s also special for me because I brought two of my students over and one of them, Ling, won third place in the women’s premier. It’s her first overseas event so it’s really quite an achievement.”

Singapore Open 2017
05-10 Dec, Singapore, $5k
Round One
07 Dec
08 Dec
09 Dec
10 Dec
[1] Henry Leung (Hkg)
11/8, 11/7, 11/9 (31m)
Ryan Pasqual (Mas)
[1] Henry Leung

11/5, 11/8, 11/6 (24m)

[7] Graham Miao
[1] Henry Leung

11/3, 11/6, 11/5 (22m)

[6] Ramit Tandon
[6] Ramit Tandon


11/3, 11/6, 11/3 (32m)


[5] James Huang

[7] Graham Miao (Hkg)
11/5, 11/7, 12/10 (38m)
Arnold Phat (Tha)
[6] Ramit Tandon (Ind)
11/8, 11/6, 11/5
[Q] Benedict Chan (Sin)
[6] Ramit Tandon

11/7, 11/8, 2/11, 10/12, 12/10 (56m)

[4] Elvinn Keo
[4] Elvinn Keo (Mas)
12/10, 11/8, 11/9 (31m)
[wc] Chua Man Chin (Sin)
[Q] Robert Garcia (Phi)
11/4, 4/11, 12/10, 5/11, 11/8 (69m)
[3] Valentino Bong (Mas)
[Q] Robert Garcia

11/7, 11/8, 11/7 (30m)

[8] Vivian Rhamanan
[Q] Robert Garcia

11/7, 11/8, 11/7 (30m)

[5] James Huang

Darren Rahul Pragasam (Mas)
11/3, 4/11, 13/11, 8/11, 11/9 (51m)
[8] Vivian Rhamanan (Sin)
[Q] Samuel Kang (Sin)
11/4, 11/5, 11/7 (39m)
[5] James huang (Tpe)
[5] James huang

11/6, 9/11, 11/8, 7/11, 11/2 (58m)

[2] Chris Lo
[Q] Mohd Farez Izwan (Mas)
5/11, 11/6, 11/2, 11/4 (31m)
[2] Chris Lo (Hkg)
Qualifying Finals:
Robert Garcia (Phi) 3-2 Muhammad Ezzri Nazri (Mas) 12-14, 12-10, 12-10, 7-11, 11-4 (63m)
Benedict Chan (Sin) 3-1 Kojiro Tan (Sin)                             11-9, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9 (41m)
Samuel Kang (Sin) 3-0 Timothy Leong (Sin)                                 11-7, 11-7, 11-8 (38m)

Mohd Farez Izwan (Mas) 3-1 Graham Melvin (Sco)              6-11, 11-3, 11-3, 11-5 (31m)

Round One:
Muhammad Ezzri Nazri (Mas) 3-0 Rayden Tan (Sin)             11-5, 11-1, 11-2 (21m)
Benedict Chan (Sin) 3-0 David Pelino (Phi)                       11-6, 12-10, 11-8 (32m)
Kojiro Tan (Sin) 3-0 Lachlan Coxsedge (Aus)                    13-11, 11-8, 11-8 (29m)
Samuel Kang (Sin) 3-1 Gurshan Singh (Mas)      11-7, 11-2, 7-11, 9-11, 11-7 (57m)
Timothy Leong (Sin) 3-1 Reymark Begornia (Phi)       9-11, 11-5, 18-16, 11-6 (58m)
Mohd Farez Izwan (Mas) bt Julian Joshua (Mas)              8-11, 11-3, 6-7 rtd (19m)
Graham Melvin (Sco) 3-2 Shahzad Khan (Pak) 10-12, 11-3, 10-12, 11-7, 11-5 (42m)
09-Dec, Semis
Garcia's run ends as Tandon topples top seed
Alex Wan reports

Robert Garcia’s maiden appearance in a tour event semi-final and gallant run at the Singapore Squash Open 2017 was halted today by Chinese Taipei’s James Huang.

The 31-year old Filipino had already played over 160 minutes of squash coming into the match this evening, and once again, there was no sign of any physical effects that might suggest so.

Huang started off very well to take the first two games with some dominating play, dictating most of the parts of the two games and was rewarded with both the games, 11-8 and then 11-6. But the never say die Robert Garcia was a highly determined one in the third, breaking away from 4-4 to 7-4, before dropping a point and then winning a streak of four points to pull back.

The fourth was a highly-charged game – Garcia having pulled one back came in with lots of hope and Huang determined not to let his two-game lead go to waste. Things were point for point for most parts of the game up to 7-7. Huang then manages to pull ahead by two points to 9-7 but Garcia played amazingly to take the next four points to hold game ball at 10-9.

In a dramatic finish to the next pulsating rally, James Huang hit a spectacular reflex shot over the back while making a turn to win the point and draw level at 10-10. That drew a rare clench of fist from Huang who then played the next two rallies with conviction and thus booking his place in the final with a 11-8, 11-6, 5-11, 12-10 win after 50 minutes.

Huang said later, “I had a good start today and he got better and better as the match went on. He also began to go for his shots and I lost a little focus in the third and fourth game. It definitely wasn’t my best squash in those two games.”

“It’s good that I have my student and my friends from Hong Kong here to support from the outside. I’m happy
to make my first final of the season and especially so in Singapore, because last year I came here as the second
seed and I twisted my ankle and lost in the quarters. I was very disappointed.”

In the other semi-final, Indian world number 88 Ramit Tandon  upset the form books to upstage top seed Henry Leung of Hong Kong. That is an amazing feat having come into the tournament from Qatar where he retired injured with a twisted ankle. Playing to a near full capacity crowd, Tandon provided a masterclass display as he coolly outplayed the top seed in just 22 minutes.

“I’m playing better and better as the tournament comes along. I had hardly any preparation coming here after hurting myself in Qatar. I have to thank Elvinn (Keo) for the tough match yesterday. I feel a lot more confident today after that match and I went for my shots a lot more.

"Things just started flowing well for me and while the score is a simple 3-0, it was nowhere near easy. Henry is a young and good player and I needed to be precise. Like yesterday, I’m going to enjoy tonight and start again tomorrow,” said Tandon who will be gunning for his second title of the season after winning the SYS Open in New York in May this year.

08-Dec, Quarters:
Garcia continues killing run
and Huang upsets Lo

Alex Wan Reports

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 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.

07-Dec, Round One:
Rhamaman the sole Singapore survivor
Alex Wan Reports

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, 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 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 in a PSA main draw.

Qualifying Finals:
Chan and Kang double home interest
Alex Wan Reports

Singapore doubled their representation in the main draw of the Singapore Squash Open 2017 when Benedict Chan and Samuel Kang beat their fellow compatriots.

In doing so, history is created as this is the highest ever number of Singaporean players in the main draw of a professional PSA event.

SEA Games gold medallist Chan was first of them to check in when he battled through four games to beat his younger compatriot, Kojiro Tan, in 41 minutes. His win marks the first time he would be making into the main draw of a PSA event.

While it was rather friendly, it surely was also competitive as Chan would confirm later :

“It was friendly in there, but definitely competitive. We play each other at training all the time so we know each other’s game very well. Of course, I’m happy to make the main draw, which is my first. When the draw came out, I knew I’d have a chance. With four of us Singaporeans in the main draw, it’s a good indicator that the sport is heading towards the right direction here.”

Last year’s wild card, Kang, will make it two consecutive appearances in the main draw tomorrow after taking out Timothy Leong in straight games.

The pair, who are playing their first competitive match against each other, gave the crowd a good display with some top level squash. But it was the experience of Kang which played the important points better in each of the games.

Kang said after, “I think I played much better today than yesterday. I was able to play well throughout the match. It’s the we’re playing (each other competitively) and I am impressed with the way he played. There’s four of us in the main draw now, so it shows the sport is improving in Singapore. At least, we are pushing players in the region definitely. Hopefully, some of us will be able to pull off some upsets tomorrow.”

Qualifying top seed Robert Garcia of the Philippines was pushed to the limits by Malaysian youngster Muhammad Ezzri Nazri in the opening match of the day. The match was filled with drama as both players took turns to cramp in the fourth and fifth game. The lanky Filipino prevailed in the end to book his place into the main draw.

The first three games were extremely close, with both players matching each other point to point and all going to the tie-break. The Malaysian nudged ahead to take the first before Garcia took the next two in identical 12-10 scores. Garcia continued to dominate and was ahead for the first half of the fourth, leading up to 7-5 before the Malaysian won six points in a row to force the fifth, with Garcia cramping in the last point. While many would’ve put their money on Nazri at this point, but the Malaysian failed to capitalise on his opponent’s condition and played in a passive manner.

Garcia soldiered on and in fact nudged ahead from 3- 3 onwards. He dominated the Malaysian and at 8-4, his opponent cramped up and despite the match continuing after that, there was no doubt who would walk out the winner.

In the final match of the day, Malaysian youngster Mohd Farez Izwan turned around the first game deficit to win the following three games convincingly. Scot Graham Melvin started off with a fast pace, striking the ball with might and went ahead 11-6.

But the intensity of that game took its toll as his younger opponent stepped up to run away with the next three games comfortably.

Qualifying Round One:
Seeds tumble on opening day in Singapore
Alex Wan Reports

Four Singaporeans upset the form books today as they made past the opening qualifying round of the Singapore Squash Open 2017. That is a remarkable result after only one local went past the opening qualifying round the previous year.

Benedict Chan led the pack after scoring the first local victory at the Kallang Squash Centre. The 21-year old fought back twice in the second and third games to chalk up a 3-0  victory over Philippines’ David Pelino in just over half an hour.

Having won most of their previous encounters, Chan looked relaxed on court and came out with a  comfortable first game 11-6. However, things took a turn in the next game as he fell behind 2-7 but  manages to pull it together to squeeze the game 12-10. Things were similar in the third, with Pelino leading before Chan used his clearly more superior skills to carve out a 11-8 win.

“I’m happy to have gotten my first match out of the way. When I saw the draw, I knew I had a chance as I’ve placed David many times. I’ve lost to him once but I’ve won all the others. I lost a bit of focus halfway in the second and third games and gave away some cheap points. I told myself to focus and things were back on track after,” said Benedict Chan, after his victory.

Chan’s compatriot, Rayden Tan, was dealt a painful blow after a wrong step in the second game saw him forfeit the second game after being a game down. He came back after the injury break to play the third, but the effects were showing as he won his first point only after being 0-7 down. His opponent, Malaysia’s Ezzri Nazri walked out victorious after just 19 minutes on court.

SEA Games silver medallist Timothy Leong doubled the local interest when he came back gallantly from a game down to upset another and Filipino, Remark Begornia in an intense match in just under an hour.

Despite controlling most of the first game, he couldn’t close out the game. But the national junior assistant coach came back with a vengeance in the second game, carving out a huge 7-0 lead which he eventually closes out 11-5.

With a game each, there was everything to play for and both players displayed amazing athleticism to entertain the nearly full house crowd in the stands. It was close and both players had multiple chances to close out the game, but it was Leong who sneaked in the game eventually 18-16 and walked in a confident man in the fourth, which he won 11-6.

“I’m quite satisfied with my performance today and most of all, I kept my cool. I realized I was under a lot of pressure as it’s quite hard to get around him. I knew he was going to be a tough opponent as I saw him play at the SEA Games,” said Timothy Leong, who is playing his professional PSA event.

Kojiro Tan also made it to the qualifying finals after he saw off qualifying fourth seed Lachlan Coxedge of Australia in straight games. After struggling in the first game, where he had to come back from game ball down squeeze through 13-11. He led in both the second and the third and held on to them to guarantee Singapore another place in the main draw, as he will be playing compatriot Benedict Chan in the qualifying final tomorrow.

In the final match of the evening, local Samuel Kang and Malaysia’sGurshan Singh played the match of the day that went the full distance. After taking the first two games relatively comfortably, the tides turned around as Singh made a strong comeback to win the next two games to force the fifth. It was the Malaysian who looked more likely to clinch it, leading the first half of the fifth, before running out of steam as Kang steadily inched point by point to guarantee Singapore’s second additional spot on the main draw, which he will play Timothy Leong for it.

In an earlier all-Malaysian match, Mohammad Farez Izwan beat Julian Joshua Wong after the latter retired injured with a twisted ankle, and Scotland’s Melvin Graham ousted qualifying second seed Shahzad Khan 3-2.

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