Saurav Ghosal gave adequate proof of his gaining stature in the international hierarchy before going down fighting against the World No. 3 Karim Darwish of Egypt in the semifinals of the $35000 PSA Kolkata International tournament at the Calcutta Racket Club here on Saturday.

Ghosal, who went a rung higher in this month's ranking to be placed 23rd in the world, produced an inspired game and matched the top-seeded Egyptian in every aspect of the game for a greater part of the contest. But Darwish looked more assured in winning the crucial points to emerge triumphant in the end.

Darwish will now face compatriot and second seed Omar Mosaad, who made short work of countryman Karim Abdel Gawad in the other semifinal, in the title clash on Sunday.

Absorbing contest

The first semifinal saw an absorbing contest where the Indian tried to measure up to his famed opponent. The first game saw Ghosal making a good comeback as he recovered from a shaky start to level the score at 5-5 and then matched his opponent point to point to keep the scored tied till 9-9. But the Egyptian nudged ahead in the crucial moment wining a ‘stroke', which gave him a 10-9 lead, before he finished off the game with low forehand smash.

Ghosal came back stronger in the second game making sharp cross-court placements and altering his returns with a mix of smashes and sliced drops on the wall. The Indian also impressed with his shot selections that caught the World No. 3 on the wrong foot more often than not. Producing a sequence of spectacular winners, Ghosal ran up a 9-4 lead before winning the second game 11-5.

Gritty display

With the game scores levelled, Darwish tried harder in the third game but the Indian, who weathered a nasty fall while trying to go for a return, refused to give up and kept a hot chase on the former. Having drawn level at 9-9, the Indian made a couple of unforced errors hitting his returns successively on the tin to give Darwish the third game 11-9 and also the psychological advantage.

The Egyptian never looked back hereafter and won the fourth game easily at 11-4 to wrap up the win in 54 minutes.

“I am beginning to feel that I can stay up with these guys,” Ghosal said after losing the battle to Darwish, who is also the former World No. 1. Darwish, who beat Ghosal 3-0 in similar tournament in Kuala Lumpur couple of weeks ago, complimented the fighting spirit of his opponent and said that he did not expect to win the fourth game so easily.

Second seeded Mosaad completed his win against 19-year-old Gawad in just 28 minutes making it the quickest completed match of the main draw. Gawad, who had upset third-seeded Ong Beng Hee of Malaysia, failed to counter the power and accuracy of Mosaad.

The results (semifinals):

Karim Darwish (Egy) bt Saurav Ghosal (Ind) 11-9, 5-11, 11-9, 11-4; Omar Mosaad (Egy) bt Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) 11-6, 11-4, 11-4.

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