Robert Garcia’s maiden appearance in a tour event semi-final and gallant run at the Singapore Squash Open 2017 was halted today by Chinese Taipei’s James Huang. The 31-year old Filipino had already played over 160 minutes of squash coming into the match this evening, and once again, there was no sign of any physical effects that might suggest so.
James Huang started off very well to take the first two games with some dominating play, dictating most of the parts of the two games and was rewarded with both the games, 11-8 and then 11-6. But the never say die Robert Garcia was a highly determined one in the third, breaking away from 4-4 to 7-4, before dropping a point and then winning a streak of four points to pull back.
The fourth was a highly-charged game – Garcia having pulled one back came in with lots of hope and Huang determined not to let his two-game lead go to waste. Things were point for point for most parts of the game up to 7-7. Huang then manages to pull ahead by two points to 9-7 but Garcia played amazingly to take the next four points to hold game ball at 10-9. In a dramatic finish to the next pulsating rally, James Huang hit a spectacular reflex shot over the back while making a turn to win the point and draw level at 10-10. That drew a rare clench of fist from Huang who then played the next two rallies with conviction and thus booking his place in the final with a 11-8, 11-6, 5-11, 12-10 win after 50 minutes.
James Huang said later, “I had a good start today and he got better and better as the match went on. He also began to go for his shots and I lost a little focus in the third and fourth game. It definitely wasn’t my best squash in those two games.”
“It’s good that I have my students and my friends from Hong Kong here to support from the outside. I’m happy to make my first final of the season and especially so in Singapore, because last year I came here as the second seed and I twisted my ankle and lost in the quarters. I was very disappointed.”
In the other semi-final, Indian world number 88 upset the form books to upstage top seed Henry Leung of Hong Kong. That is an amazing feat having come into the tournament from Qatar where he retired injured with a twisted ankle. Playing to a near full capacity crowd, Tandon provided a masterclass display as he coolly outplayed the top seed in just 22 minutes.
“I’m playing better and better as the tournament comes along. I had hardly any preparation coming here after hurting myself in Qatar. I have to thank Elvinn (Keo) for the tough match yesterday. I feel a lot more confident today after that match and I went for my shots a lot more. Things just started flowing well for me and while the score is a simple 3-0, it was nowhere near easy. Henry (Leung) is a young and good player and I needed to be precise. Like yesterday, I’m going to enjoy tonight and start again tomorrow,” said Tandon who will be gunning for his second title of the season after winning the SYS Open in New York in May this year.
Ramit Tandon (IND bt Henry Leung (HKG) 11-3, 11-6, 11-5 (22m)
James Huang (TPE) bt Robert Garcia (PHI) 11-8, 11-6, 5-11, 12-10 (50m)
Article by Alex Wan