World No.19 Dipika Pallikal suffered a heartbreaking loss in a nail-biting five-game thriller to the sixth-ranked Camille Serme of France in the opening round of the Hong Kong Open 2016 on Wednesday. The Indian national champion went down 4-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-6, 6-11 in 52 minutes at this joint PSA World Series event.
India No.1 men’s player Saurav Ghosal too bowed out in his opener, losing to the former World No. 1 Ramy Ashour of Egypt, 7-11, 6-11, 10-12 in 47 minutes.
This was Saurav’s first PSA match since April as an ankle injury kept him out for two-and-a-half months. In July, he returned to competitive play to capture a record 11th title at the National Squash Championships. After that, he also teamed up with Pallikal to bring home the silver medal in mixed doubles from the WSF World International Doubles in Australia.
As for Dipika, she had been in impeccable form coming into this tournament. She began the new season with a bang by capturing her second Nationals title before going on to reach back-to-back finals at the Victorian Open and the Australian Open, winning the latter.
Carrying on that confidence to the World Doubles, she played a crucial role in delivering two out of the three medals that India clinched at that event. It was thus no surprise that the 24-year-old gave a hard time to the World No.6 in Hong Kong. After losing the first two games, the Indian waged a battle to take the match into the decider where she ultimately ran out of steam.
Joshna Chinappa the last Indian standing
Earlier on Tuesday, the only other Indian player in the draw – Joshna Chinappa – won her first round match comfortably. The World No.12 dismissed 19-year-old Egyptian qualifier Nadine Shahin, 12-10, 11-3, 11-6 in 26 minutes to advance to the second round.
The Chennai girl will next play the eighth seed and World No. 7 Omneya Abdel Kawy of Egypt on Thursday for a place in the quarter-finals.
Meanwhile, defending women’s champion Nicol David was put to a stern test in her first round by the 28th rankedTesni Evans, a qualifier at this event. Eventually, the former World No.1 edged past the Welsh player, 11-8, 8-11, 11-4, 5-11, 11-5 in 68 minutes for her 56th consecutive win at this tournament.