Seven Indians — five men and four women — advanced to the second qualifying round of the PSA and WISPA events at the Chennai Open squash championships here on Tuesday.
World No. 174 Gaurav Nandrajog produced day one's most notable result, upsetting Malaysian Kamran Khan, ranked 48 places above him.
Among the women, Dipika Pallikal had it easy against Frenchwoman Coline Aumard, winning 11-2, 11-8, 11-8. With Aumard committing frequent unforced errors, anguished groans following each clang of ball against tin, Pallikal wasn't really pushed.
The 18-year-old, ranked 49 in the world, didn't have to pull too many weapons out of her kitbag, but every now and then brought off adroit drop shots that died a whimpering death far out of Aumard's reach.
All the other Indian winners — Siddharth Suchde, Vikas Jangra, Ritwik Bhattacharya, Harinder Pal Sandhu and Anaka Alankamony — beat lower-ranked compatriots.
With four matches proceeding concurrently, the Indian Squash Academy echoed to a cacophony of racket-strings, balls, walls, squeaky soles and the near-robotic drone of four sets of match officials announcing scores.
Cut off from this by a pair of earphones, women's third seed Rachael Grinham scribbled absorbedly into what appeared at first a slim notepad.
Closer examination revealed that the Queenslander wasn't compiling the strengths and weaknesses of potential first round opponents, but was instead solving Japanese Picture Puzzles.
“I tend to spend most of my free time during tournaments doing this sort of thing – solving puzzles, or relaxing by the pool,” said the 33-year-old former World No.1 . “I try not to tire myself too much, so I don't sightsee too much. Unless I lose early, which has been happening a lot of late.”
That shouldn't happen here, considering her past performances in Chennai — Grinham won the Indian Open here in 1999 and 2000, and bagged two gold medals — the women's and the mixed doubles — at the 2004 World Doubles.
Meanwhile, fourth seed Alison Waters pulled out due to tendinitis in her leg. The Englishwoman's place in the main draw of the women's event went to 2002 Asian Games gold medallist Rebecca Chiu, the top seed in qualifying.
“This means I'll be quite fresh when the main draw starts,” said Chiu, who was initially scheduled to play on Wednesday following a bye in the first qualifying round. “I've got quite a good draw — I'm not playing any of the top four seeds first up.”
Chiu will face sixth seed Camille Serme in the main draw on Thursday.