The upsets in the men’s open continued on day three of the 2019 Singapore Squash Open as Elvinn Keo once again got the better of second seed Robert Garcia in a tight encounter this evening. The 31-year old, who had recently beaten Robert in the SGSquash Circuit #5 final, once again repeated the feat but with much more difficulty. Joint-fifth seeds in the upper half of the draw, Malaysians Farez Izwan and Wee Ming Hock were also shown the door by their lower ranked opponents.
Elvinn, known for his superior shot-making abilities, started with a bang to reel off six points in a row. He nearly lost the big lead when he allowed Robert to do the same, going from 9-2 up to 9-8, before recomposing and finishing off the next two points for the lead.
The next two games were split between the pair, giving Elvinn an overall 2-1 lead. He looked set to cruise to a 3-1 win when he had a 5-point lead at 6-1. While he manages to halt the comeback in the first game, he wasn’t able to do so this time. Robert claimed the game to draw level with a 6-point spree.
With two games a-piece, it was now Robert who looked the more likely winner, having led 5-2 and later having two match balls at 10-8. With 13 years of experience on the PSA tour, the Penangite used all his experience to turn the tides around, taking four points in a row to book his semi-final place.
Elvinn’s opponent tomorrow will be Nafiizwan Adnan, who was given a tough time by Singapore’s very own Aaron Liang. Ranked just 387 in the world, Aaron certainly gave the former world number 26 a good run for his money. In fact, he would probably be disappointed for not being able to close out the match after taking a 2-1 lead.
Nafiizwan, who retired from the tour last year, was a shadow of his old self as he struggled in the front corners against the youthful Aaron. However, as he would confirm later, it was his sheer experience that pulled him through today.
Despite the loss, Aaron was very positive from his experience playing such an established player:
“It was a real honour to play Nafiizwan. I was able to move him around, expose his movement and make him tired. I managed to go 2-1 up, which I thought was an achievement already. But I wanted to win too badly, and he was able to capitalise on that and use his experience to cut me out. It was a good match and I really gave it all I had.”
“Aaron is a tough and good player. I think he has a good future if he keeps it up with his training and such performances like today. What pulled me through today is just my experience. Even when I was down, I am able to not put pressure on myself. And that just comes with experience”, the former world number 26 said on pulling through a tough one over Aaron today.
In the upper half of the draw, Korea’s Lee Seung Taek will battle out with Philippines Reymark Begornia in the semi-finals after both upset the form books to beat their higher seeded opponents. Seng Taek, who took out top seed Samuel Kang, beat young Malaysian Farez Izwan in four games. Reymark, the 2019 SEA Cup champion meanwhile, beat teenager Wee Ming Hock, who is ranked 86 places above him on the PSA rankings.
Singapore’s challenge continued in the women’s open as joint-third seed Au Yeong Wai Yhann won the all-Singapore match up against Sherilyn Yang. Sherilyn, who twice had 4-2 leads in the second and third games, failed to make them matter and lost in straight games.
“I’m pretty happy with how I played today – much better compared to yesterday. Today I was a lot more focused and I was really trying to take the opportunities I had and go for my shots. I made a couple of errors here and there but generally, I think I was pretty confident, so I am happy about it”, Wai Yhann said after overcoming teammate Sherilyn Yang in their quarter-final clash today.
“She’s definitely improved a lot. I remember a few months ago when she first came back for training, she could barely train for 30 minutes. But she’s now a lot stronger, fitter and playing a lot more aggressively. I think we are all preparing very well for the SEA Games ahead of us”, Wai Yhann added when asked what she thought of Sherilyn’s game today.
The win puts Wai Yhann up against Philippines top women player Jemyca Aribado, who made a great escape against Malaysian teenager Amirah Rosli. She had to come back from two games down and 3-5 in the decider. The world number 88 had to pay the price for her slow start to overcome the 18-year old from Kuala Lumpur ranked nearly 100 places below her.
“I had a slow start today, but I’m really glad to have pulled through. It’s not the first time I’ve played Amirah, so I knew it was going to be tough. I’m glad I have my team here to help me through today.
“I’m excited and at the same time, nervous for the SEA Games. There are many players who have been improving a lot, but I think I am ready for it”, answered Jemyca when asked if she was all set for the SEA Games back in her home country.
“To have such a close match against a top-100 player gives me a lot of confidence, because I’m still a junior. It’s nice to have that ahead of my next event, the KL Junior Open”, said Amirah Rosli, on losing despite leading 2-0.
Meanwhile, at the top of the draw, top seed Lai Wen Li did not have much trouble against compatriot Nazihah Hanis and won in straight games.
“It’s good to be playing back here again, having been here for the 1st and 2nd leg of the SGSquash Circuit. I think I played well in the first and second games but made quite a few errors in the third. Maybe I was too eager to finish off, but overall, I think I did well today”, said Lai Wen Li, who will play Aika Azman, who saw off Angie Ooi, next.
Lee Seung Taek [9/16] (KOR) bt Mohd Farez Iswan [5/8] (MAS) 3-1, 11-7, 11-13, 11-6, 11-8
Reymark Begornia [9/16] (PHI) bt Wee Ming Hock [5/8] (MAS) 3-1, 11-9, 14-12, 2-11, 11-7
Nafiizwan Adnan [3/4] (MAS) bt Aaron Liang [5/8] (SIN) 3-2, 12-14, 11-6, 10-12, 11-7, 11-9
Elvinn Keo [5/8] (MAS) bt Robert Garcia  (PHI) 3-2, 11-8, 7-11, 11-5, 8-11, 12-10
Lai Wen Li  (MAS) bt Nazihah Hanis [5/8] (MAS) 3-0, 11-6, 11-4, 11-9
Aika Azman [3/4] (MAS) bt Angie Ooi [5/8] (MAS) 3-1, 11-7, 11-6, 11-13, 11-8
Au Yeong Wai Yhann [3/4] (SIN) bt Sherilyn Yang (SIN) 3-0, 11-6, 11-6, 11-9
Jemyca Aribado  (PHI) bt Amirah Rosli [5/8] (MAS) 3-2, 8-11, 7-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-9
Lee Seung Taek [9/16] (KOR) vs Reymar Begornia [9/16] (PHI)
Nafiizwan Adnan [3/4] (MAS) vs Elvinn Keo [5/8] (MAS)
Lai Wen Li  (MAS) vs Aika Azman [3/4] (MAS)
Au Yeong Wai Yhann [3/4] (SIN) vs Jemyca Aribado  (PHI)
For a full set of results, fixtures and draws, please click here