Ivan Yuen (left) returning a shot to India's Harinderpal Sandhu in the final of the NSC Series No. 1 championships. Ivan won 6-11, 13-11, 10-12, 11-1, 11-5.
BUKIT JALIL: National No. 4 squash player Ivan Yuen can thank his never-say-die attitude for coming through a hard-fought five-set thriller against India’s Harinderpal Sandhu in the final of the NSC Series No. 1 championships at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil.
The Selangor-born Ivan downed Harinderpal 6-11, 13-11, 10-12, 11-1, 11-5 on Thursday to claim his first title of the year.
Ivan got off to a slow start and duly lost the first set. That got him thinking and he changed his strategy – attacking Harinderpal aggressively in the second.
“After the first set, I told myself to be more aggressive. I felt like I needed to shift a gear up as we both know each other’s game quite well, having played quite often in our junior days. Luckily, I found my stride in the second set and managed to win it,” said Ivan.
The third set looked to be heading Ivan’s way when he took a commanding eight-point lead. Harinderpal, however, staged a fightback to win the set.
Ivan managed to regain his composure and win the fourth and fifth sets to seal victory.
“My mind was blank in the third set and I couldn’t respond to his shots. I made the mistake of being over-confident. I was furious with myself for blowing the third set. Going into the fourth, I told myself ‘it’s do-or-die now’,” said Ivan, the world No. 68.
Ivan will now be looking to carry his winning momentum into the next tournament. He will be taking part in the El Gouna International in Egypt from April 10-18 and the Hong Kong Football Club tournament from May 19-24.
“I’m happy to win this title ... and to do it against a talented player like Harinderpal is even better. Now, I’ll have to train harder for the coming tournaments but this title will be a big boost for my confidence,” said Ivan.
Harinderpal, who seemed to lose his confidence in the fourth and fifth set, could not produce a comeback.
“I lost my concentration – it was very hard getting back up and I think I was too focused on finishing the game off early. You tend to lose sight of your game plan when you put all your concentration into winning and not your game plan,” said the 24-year-old.