Saurav Ghosal was brilliant as he tamed Julian Ilingworth of the US with surprising ease at 12-10, 11-4, 11-2 in the first round of the $165,000 Punj Lloyd PSA Masters squash tournament at the Siri Fort Sports Complex here on Tuesday.
As it turned out, a lot depended on the first game, and Saurav was a class act as he turned the tide in his favour after a brief dip in the middle when he trailed 6-8, losing four points in a row.
Saurav did miss a couple of game points as well at 10-8, but came up with a telling backhand drop to secure his third gamepoint, and Illingworth buried a hurried backhand into the tin to lose the initiative.
A couple of smart drops and a few errors by Illingworth who looked to have switched ‘off' after such a good showing in the first game, saw Saurav lead 5-1, the later dictating the show thereafter without being challenged much. Saurav won the second and third games in 19 minutes.
Coach Malcolm Willstrop who has been guiding Saurav for the last few years back home in Leeds was pleased with the execution and reiterated his observation that the seven-time national champion was a potential top-10 player.
“It was a thoroughly high class performance, after a tight and tough first game.” remarked Malcolm Willstrop.
On his part, Saurav was thrilled with the straight-game triumph and said that it tasted particularly better after the loss to the same player in the World team championship earlier.
He said that he took a little impetus on winning the first game and the confidence and a strong start to the second game carried him through.
Jullian Illingworth was quite shattered to have lost tamely after all the trouble that he had taken to fly across the world.
He gave credit to Saurav but underlined that the Indian took advantage of his lack of focus and the clutch of errors in the second part of the game.
After a day's rest, Saurav will be up against the fifth-seeded Peter Barker of England who had beaten him in the Commonwealth Games at the same venue last year.
“Saurav has to engage Peter and play a good game. I have seen him against top players and he has given them a good game. He will give a good account of himself,” said Malcolm Willstrop.
Meanwhile, the top-seeded Ramy Ashour got off to a hesitant start after having missed the last two tournaments.
He recovered quickly and gave a delightful time for the sparse gathering with his brilliance in racing away with the next three games after dropping the first game to Mohd. Nafizwan Adnan of Malaysia.
“I was thinking too many things, and once I pushed away the demons, I could play well. He deserved the first game,” conceded Ashour.
First round: Alister Walker (Bot) bt Alan Clyne (Sco) 11-5, 11-6, 11-5; Simon Rosner (Ger) bt Omar Abdel Aziz (Egy) 11-7, 11-6, 11-4; Daryl Selby (Eng)bt Mohammed Abbas (Egy) 11-4, 11-7, 11-9.
Peter Barker (Eng) bt Olli Tuominen (Fin) 11-4, 11-4, 11-1; Saurav Ghosal bt Julian Illingworth (US) 12-10, 11-4, 11-2; Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt Mohd. Nafizwan Adnan (Mas) 9-11, 11-3, 11-4, 11-9.
Keywords: PSA Masters squash tournament