Saurav Ghosal believes that his victory over World No.1 James Willstrop of England in the final of the Cleethorpes Invitational squash tournament will help him in his endeavour to break into the World’s top-10.

World No. 23 Ghoshal got the better off Willstrop 16-14, 13-11, 11-8 in Leeds last week and the India No.1 feels that he can make it into the elite group in a few months. “I’m 23rd in the World right now. I really want to make the top-20 quickly and move towards the top-10. I feel like I’m ready. My game seems to be coming together well and hopefully, I can continue the good work in the coming season,” Ghosal said from Leeds.

The 26-year-old from Kolkata came close to defeating the Yorkshireman several times during their previous 10 competitive meetings, but victory always eluded the Indian. The victory was all the more special for Ghosal because it came against his training partner for seven years.

“A win against the World No.1 is always special. I think it was a really good match and I’m really glad to have come out on top. However, I have to remember that this was an invitational event and I need to win some big matches on PSA tour.

“I have learnt so much from James. Everyday, I train with him and it makes me feel lucky. He has helped me a great deal over the years. So, it’s almost surreal. He had won this title seven times in the past,” he said.

Ghosal said his strategy against Willstrop, famous for his speed and accuracy, was to try and keep the ball as far away from his racquet as possible. “He is so accurate and precise when he’s on the ball. It was like trying and keeping the ball away from him.”

Drawing inspiration

When Ghosal begins his campaign at the Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur next week, he would draw inspiration from his victory at the Cleethorpes Invitational. “It gives me great confidence going into the new season. I now know that I can truly compete with the best over long periods of time and win at the end of it,” he said.

After the Malaysian Open, the first PSA event of the season, Ghosal will be seen in action at the British Grand Prix, U.S. Open and Santiago Open over the next six weeks.

Asked about the retirements of former Asian squash champion Azlan Iskandar and Frenchman Thierry Lincou, the first continental European to top the men’s World squash rankings, Ghosal said the sport will become poorer without them. “It is always a sad day when top players retire. Both Lincou and Azlan have brought a lot to the game over the years and I’m sure the tour will feel their absence. I, for one, will definitely miss them,” he said.

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