Joshna Chinappa India's highlight at the Australian Open
A week after capturing her 10th professional title at the Victorian Open, Chinappa was once again the best Indian performer at the Australian Open held in Melbourne. The 28-year-old reached the quarter-finals where she lost to top seed Annie Au.
The other Indians at this event were Sachika Ingale, Mahesh Mangaonkar, Harinderpal Sandhu and Kush Kumar.
Here’s a look back at the performances of the Indian squash players at last week’s Australian Open:
Chinappa started the Australian Open armed with the Victorian Open title from the previous week, once again exuding the poise and calmness that had been missing from her game recently.
She thrashed Alexia Clonda of Estonia 11-6, 11-6, 11-3 in the first round and then followed it up with a 5-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-8 victory over 12th seed Megan Craig.
The sixth-seeded Chinappa then stumbled against the top seed Annie Au 7-11, 4-11, 8-11 in the quarters. But tiredness may have played a big part in that loss. The Indian squash ace had been on a six-match winning streak and fatigue definitely set in which robbed her of her usual sharpness. Also, World No. 11 Au had been on a roll, winning her last two tournaments. The burgeoning confidence of the Hong Kong player certainly helped her a lot in securing the three-game win.
Nevertheless, it has been a favourable campaign Down Under for India’s reigning National champion. The recent deep runs in back-to-back tournaments would bolster Joshana’s belief and mental strength even further and aid her in her next few tournaments.
Sachika is still only 20. Every match is a learning experience for the 94th ranked player, and will benefit her in the long run. At the $27k Melbourne event, Ingale went down in a close three-game contest against the ninth seed Siyoli Waters in her opening match. The 10-12, 8-11, 9-11 score suggests Ingale was close and she needs more experience to cross the finish line.
Matches going the distance have become a bane for the 2014 Men’s Indian national champion. At the 2015 Nationals too, Harinderpal let Saurav Ghosal come back from a 0-2 down situation.
Unfortunately for Sandhu, the problem came back to haunt him as his challenge ended in yet another long, five-game marathon – 4-11, 11-7, 4-11, 15-13, 9-11 to the second-seeded Nafiizwan Adnan of Malaysia in Round 2.
Let us hope Sandhu can find a solution to this recurring issue soon.
Earlier, the 26-year-old had begun with an 11-8, 6-11, 11-3, 11-9 triumph over wildcard Josh Larkin in the first round.
Mahesh has been on the rebound after a few indifferent results this season. After making the Victorian Open semis a week before, the 21-year-old secured another win at the Australian Open against qualifier Rhys Dowling 11-4, 9-11, 11-0, 11-9.
Endurance is still one area Mangaonkar needs to work hard at. He put up a brilliant effort in Round 2 but unfortunately could not sustain the lead and succumbed in five gruelling games. Mahesh went down to the in-form Steve Finitsis of Australia 11-7, 11-4, 9-11, 9-11, 7-11.
19-year-old Kumar is rising quickly, ready to make his presence felt on the big stage. Quite deservedly, the youngster even received a mention in a recent PSA Tour article which singled him out as one of its most promising squash talents.
Kush, who conquered the Tasmanian Open just three weeks back, won two rounds of qualifying at the Australian Open before going down to eighth seed Rex Hedrick 11-9, 3-11, 6-11, 3-11 in Round 1.
Let us hope the Indian squash players can build on these performances and rectify their mistakes for even better results.