Dipika Pallikal’s return to the Indian Squash Nationals proved to be a joyous and memorable one. The second seed and World No. 19 came back from a game down to dethrone the 14-time champion and top seed Joshna Chinappa 4-11, 11-6, 11-2, 11-8 en route to capturing the 73rd Senior National Squash Championships at the Otters Club in Bandra, Mumbai on Sunday.
This is her second win at this prestigious tournament.
After clinching the title in 2011, Pallikal had stayed away from India’s premier domestic squash event, demanding equal prize money for women. With her plea being heard this year, the 24-year-old was back and how!
It was, however, the defending champion Chinappa who showed initial promise as she grabbed the opening game comfortably. But with incredible speed and pin-point accuracy, the determined Dipika found her footing from the second game which rattled her opponent.
The top seed did try her best to make a comeback and closed in on 7-8 in the fourth game but Dipika was careful not to give her Commonwealth Games gold-winning teammate any space for comfort after that and finished the win in 43 minutes.
The former World No. 10 had not won any major individual title since February 2015 and this triumph definitely came as a much-needed boost and relief.
“It was a relief for me. I had not won a title for a long time and Joshna has been playing really well, breaking into the top ten. It was a relief and somewhere mum and dad will be happy, “Pallikal said during the post-match press conference.
About her stand on equal prize money distribution, she said: “I have never played for money; if I wanted to, I would have played some other sport. It’s all about respect. I have been vocal about it. The prize money is equal in major tournaments in the world.”
Record 11th title for Ghosal
On the men's side, Saurav Ghosal too made a grand comeback from a foot injury to grab his record 11th title at the Nationals. In an absolutely enthralling finale, it was the World No. 17 who edged past his compatriot and 2014 winner Harinderpal Singh Sandhu 11-7, 7-11, 3-11, 11-8, 14-12 in an 88-minute marathon.
With this win, the Kolkata ace broke a tie with RK Narpat Singh who had won 10 titles between 1946 and 1955.