The top seeds enjoyed a largely alarm-free first round at the Chennai Open squash championships here on Thursday, a day that saw the Indian presence dwindle to just one — men's fourth seed Saurav Ghosal.
Ghosal showed off both his retrieving skills and the rare gift of keeping things simple in a straight-games win over compatriot Harinder Pal Sandhu, who alternated between bursts of wristy improvisation and clunky unforced errors.
The No. 1 women's seed Nicol David beat Dipika Pallikal 11-6, 11-9, 11-5 in a centre-court match of dizzying pace.
David forced Pallikal to chase from corner to corner, subjecting the qualifier's insides to a routine akin to the tumble-dry process in a washing machine. To her credit, Pallikal stayed in every point doggedly, extending rallies well beyond what the Malaysian may have expected.
The 18-year-old Pallikal surprised David with flashes of clever shot-making, and on occasion had the World number one off-balance — if only for microseconds.
David, lithe and low-slung, demonstrated an unearthly ability to change direction, and somehow make controlled contact with balls that had seemed out of reach an instant before.
She won the first two games without quite shifting into top gear, before raising her game in the third — winning seven straight points after trailing 0-4 initially — and took the match 11-6, 11-9, 11-5.
Meanwhile, Joshna Chinappa lost in four games to seventh-seeded Australian Kasey Brown, in a match punctuated by disputed let calls. While neither player settled into any sort of rhythm, Brown perhaps accommodated her discomfort better, and tailored her game accordingly.
Chinappa did well to win the first game after trailing 2-6, but thereafter lapsed into frequent peppering of the tin. Brown kept things tight at her end, and streaked winners past Chinappa each time she was tardy in recovering her position at the T and eventually won 8-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-5.
Two seeds exit
The only major upsets of the day saw men's fifth seed Stephen Coppinger and women's fourth seed Madeleine Perry lose in straight games to Englishman Laurance Delasaux and New Zealander Jaclyn Hawecks respectively.
The results (first round, Indians unless specified):
PSA Men's International: Alan Clyne (Sco) bt Ritwik Bhattacharya 11-7, 11-3, 8-11, 11-9; Mohd. Ali Anwar Reda (Egy) bt Ramit Tandon 11-4, 11-7, 11-4; Yann Perrin (Fra) bt Muhammad Asyraf Azan (Mas) 11-6, 6-11, 11-9, 11-6; Saurav Ghosal bt Harinder Pal Sandhu 11-7, 11-6, 11-7; Chris Simpson (Sco) bt Siddharth Suchde 14-12, 3-11, 12-10, 8-11, 11-7; Jonathan Kemp (Eng) bt Kristian Frost Olessen (Den) 11-8, 11-4, 11-4; Laurance Delasaux (Eng) bt Stephen Coppinger (RSA) 11-7, 13-11, 11-6; Ong Beng Hee (Mas) bt Ivan Yuen (Mas) 11-6, 3-11, 11-8, 3-11, 11-3.
WISPA Women's International: Nicol David (Mas) bt Dipika Pallikal 11-6, 11-9, 11-5; Samantha Teran (Mex) bt Donna Urquhart (Aus) 11-3, 3-11, 11-3, 11-4; Jaclyn Haweks (NZL) bt Madeline Perry (Irl) 11-8, 11-4, 11-9; Kasey Brown (Aus) bt Joshna Chinappa 8-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-5; Camille Serme (Fra) bt Rebecca Chiu (HKG) 11-3, 11-8, 11-4; Rachel Grinham (Aus) bt Delia Arnold (Mas) 11-6, 11-6, 9-11, 11-6; Laura Massaro (Eng) bt Low Wee Wern 11-2, 8-11, 3-11, 11-5, 11-7; Jenny Duncalf (Eng) bt Annie Au (HKG) 8-11, 11-7, 11-0, 11-2.