Ivan Yuen (front) in a file photo. He will meet Ahmad Alsaraj of Jordan in the semi-finals of the NSC Series No. 1 championships.
KUALA LUMPUR: It was hard work but national No. 4 Ivan Yuen did just enough to stay in the title hunt in the NSC Series No. 1 championships at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil.
In Tuesday morning’s second round, Ivan had to battle back from an opening set loss to beat Pakistan’s Muhammad Shoaib Hassan 9-11, 11-3, 11-3, 10-12, 11-3.
Later in the evening, Ivan was more clinical. The 23-year-old, ranked No. 68 in the world, stepped up his game to beat India’s Ravi Dixit 13-11, 11-6, 11-8 to reach the semi-finals.
“I felt sluggish in the morning session and wasn’t moving so well. My opponent took advantage of it,” said top seed and defending champion Ivan.
“I put up a much better performance in the quarter-finals. I got my head into the game and was moving a lot better and reading the game better.
“Now, there’s no pressure on me in the semi-finals. I’ll just go in there fully prepared and giving it my best shot.”
The Selangor-born player, a Business Administration student at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), will meet Ahmad Alsaraj of Jordan in the semi-finals.
Alsaraj, who ended Malaysia’s Ng Eain Yow’s run in the second round, was stretched to the limit by Egyptian Ahmed Hussein before winning 11-9, 5-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-7 in the quarter-finals.
Valentino Bon Jovi Bong failed to make it to the semi-finals when he lost 9-11, 4-11, 9-11 to second seed Harinderpal Sandhu of India.
“I didn’t play well at all. My legs were too stiff. The long match in the morning definitely affected my performance,” said Valentino who laboured to an 11-13, 11-2, 11-3, 11-9 second round win over sixth seed and compatriot Mohd Addeen Idrakie.
Harinderpal will play Egyptian Ahmed Atef in the other semi-final. Atef sent Wong Chi Him of Hong Kong out of the quarter-finals with an easy 11-6, 11-6, 11-4 win.