PETALING JAYA: Ivan Yuen continues to get better as he gets older.
The 31-year-old showed he was made of sterner stuff when he outlasted all his younger opponents to emerge as the men’s champion in the SRAM PSA 5 at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil.
Yesterday, he battled for 60 minutes to beat 22-year-old rising star Darren Rahul Pragasam 11-9, 4-11, 7-11, 11-7, 11-2 in the final to pocket US$6,000 (RM25,000).
And the marathon match came just a day after he was involved in an absorbing 77-minute semi-final match against Ong Sai Hung, who is also 22.
In the final, Ivan drew first blood by winning the opener 11-9 but lost the next two sets 4-11, 7-11 as Darren upped the tempo.
But Ivan used his vast experience to make a remarkable comeback to take the fourth set 11-7 and crushed Darren 11-2 in the deciding set.
It is Ivan’s second PSA challenger series title this year.
He had earlier won the SRAM PSA 1 by defeating Mohd Syafiq Kamal 16-14, 9-11,11-3,11-5 in the final.
In the women’s final, top seed Aifa Azman lived up to her favourite’s tag by beating third seed Chan Yiwen 11-4, 6-11, 15-13, 11-4 in a 30-minute final.
Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) director Mejar (Rtd) S. Maniam was pleased with the effort and standard shown by all the players despite having only a month to train before the tournament.
“A year ago, Ivan would have beaten some of these players easily, but he had to fight hard against Sai Hung and Darren in the semi-final and final, respectively,” said Maniam.
“It shows that these athletes are progressing and will not make it easy for the top players.
In the women’s event, Maniam said Noor Ainaa Amani Ampandi, who lost to Aifa in the semi-finals, had showed the most improvement.
“Our next event is the SRAM PSA 6 this month, and we expect the matches to be closely contested too.”
Men: Ivan Yuen bt Darren Rahul Pragasam 11-9, 4-11, 7-11, 11-7, 11-2
Women: Aifa Azman bt Chan Yiwen 11-4, 6-11, 15-13, 11-4