Watch your back, Ivan

Comfortable victory: Ivan Yuen (left) returns a shot to Mohd Syafiq Mohd Kamal in the SRAM PSA 1 final on Sunday.

PETALING JAYA: Forgive him if he feels like Ivan the Terrible. For national No. 1 squash player Ivan Yuen, winning the SRAM PSA 1 comes with additional pressure.

The win will leave the 30-year-old veteran constantly looking over his shoulder as many youngsters are now gunning for his number one spot.

World No. 46 Ivan beat Mohd Syafiq Mohd Kamal – the world No. 79 – 16-14,9-11,11-3,11-8 to win the US$10,000 (RM41,360) SRAM PSA 1 competition on Sunday.

The professional tournament is the first event for the Malaysian squash players since March last year, as their calendar was disrupted because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

For Ivan, the tough fight Syafiq gave him in the final is a reminder that more young players will be eyeing his scalp in future tournaments.

The Kota Baru-born Syafiq showed great tenacity in the first two sets and that was an eye opener for Ivan. It was the sixth meeting between them, but Ivan has yet to lose to Syafiq.

“I know Syafiq well because we train together, and he gave me a tough game. It was a reminder that I can expect the same from some of the other young players who are out to gun me down, ” said Ivan.

“At my age, I need to have a better strategy and game plan during tournaments. I also need to analyse the game well.

“Plus, I have to recover, hydrate and eat well. The guys chasing me are young, and I need a longer time to recover.”

Ivan, however, said that it was a good feeling to get back into competition mode and looks forward to playing in more competitions.

“All of us are not at 100 per cent in terms of competition sharpness, but we all got to start somewhere and get back in shape. So, it’s good to start with a win.

“Now, I’ll get back to training and hopefully travel for tournaments in a month or two. We hope everything gets approved for us to travel for tournaments.”

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