Saurav Ghosal and Dipika Pallikal, the two highest-ranked Indians in the world, are now in the best form of their life and they displayed their allround brilliance in ample measure in the senior National squash championships at the Indian Squash Academy here on Saturday.
Saurav didn't show any mercy to Harinder Pal Sandhu winning in 55 minutes 8-11, 11-6, 11-3, 11-1 to bag the men's title for the sixth successive time and seventh overall while Dipika defeated Anaka Alankamony 11-7, 8-11, 11-4, 11-7 for her maiden women's title.
Saurav was slow to get off the blocks, his movements looked restricted. On the other hand, Harinder was consistent and soon took a 6-4 lead in the first game. Though Saurav caught up later, he couldn't sustain the momentum. It was a completely different Saurav one saw in the next three games. Gone were the indecisiveness and the rustiness.
The top seed made Harinder run hard. Saurav wrong-footed Harinder either through a beautiful counter-up or tiring him out and then finishing off the point with a smash. Harinder did try his level best to be in the rally, but Saurav hardly gave him a chance.
“I stepped up my level a bit in the second, third and fourth games. I was more pro-active. I controlled the rallies and put him under constant pressure. He didn't have enough time to do much with the ball,” said Saurav. “It's a privilege to win the Nationals, but my main focus is to improve my international rankings,” he added.
The best of Anaka came in the second game where she proved equal to Dipika in the women's summit clash. Her placements caught the World No.17 napping.
But Dipika took a huge lead in the third game. Anaka wasn't finished yet as she kept pace with Dipika in the fourth. From 8-7, Dipika, however, took charge.
Dipika credited her rise in the World rankings to five-time World Open women's champion Sarah Fitz-Gerald. “She has been a huge influence on me. She has made a lot of changes in my mental outlook,” she said.
Saurav took home Rs.1 lakh while Dipika received Rs. 40,000. M. Vijayakumar, Member Secretary, Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu, gave away the prizes.
The results (finals):
Men: Saurav Ghosal (TN) bt Harinder Pal Sandhu (TN) 8-11, 11-6, 11-3, 11-1; Women: Dipika Pallikal (TN) bt Anaka Alankamony (TN) 11-7, 8-11, 11-4, 11-7.
Over 55: Major S. Maniam (TN) bt Col. L.K. Agnihotri (retd.) 11-8, 11-9, 15-13; Over 50: Viney Singh (Kar) bt Vaman Apte (Mah) 11-5, 11-5, 11-5; Over 45: Rohit Thanwani (Mah) bt Chetan Ladiwala (Mah) 11-6, 11-7, 12-10; Over 40: Manish Chotrani (Mah) bt Mohanish Sawant (Mah) 11-6, 16-14, 13-11; Professionals: A. Parthiban (TN) bt B. Balamurugan (TN) 11-8, 10-12, 11-6, 11-8; Over 35: Vikas Nayar (Chd) bt Cyrus Poncha (TN) 12-14, 11-4, 9-11, 11-7, 11-5.
Keywords: National squash championships