Joshna Chinappa stuns eight-time world champion Nicol David in El Gouna International
What’s the story?
Fresh from winning a women’s doubles silver medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games alongside Dipika Pallikal, India’s top squash queen Joshna Chinappa stunned the former World No. 1 and eight time world champion Nicol David to enter the quarter-finals of the El Gouna International in Egypt on Sunday.
The World No. 14 pulled off the 11-8, 11-8, 11-8 upset in 32 minutes, which was her first win over the legendary Malaysian in 15 meetings.
This was the first time the Indian reached the quarter-finals of any PSA World Series event since November 2015.
In case you didn’t know
Chinappa, a former World No. 10, has been in good form of late. She was the best performing Indian in singles at the recently-concluded Commonwealth Games, where she reached the quarter-finals.
She won the Asian Championships last year, besides finishing as the runner-up at the HKFC International in Hong Kong.
The heart of the matter
The 31-year-old Indian was determined to carry her form forward after a great show in Gold Coast. From the start, she never allowed her formidable opponent to build any rhythm. The 16th seeded Joshna led in each of the three games as she produced some delightful display through her array of backhand flicks.
In the first game, David levelled matters at 8-8 only to see the Indian grab the next three points. In the second, Joshna built a big lead of 7-3 before David got a flurry of points to trail 8-9 after which, the Indian closed out the game.
In the third, Chinappa raced away to a 7-1 lead but saw her huge advantage soon disappearing as the 34-year-old fought back and even saved two match balls. Joshna regained control soon after to complete the unbelievable win.
“I don’t know how I did it,” an incredulous Chinappa told the PSA website afterwards.
“A few of us are just back from the Commonwealth Games, not just me, and that’s one of the challenges of being a professional athlete.
“I knew I had a tough first round, then Nicol in the pre-quarters, so I had no pressure, and I just wanted to play freely and enjoy myself,” she added.
In her quest for a semi-final place, Chinappa faces another tough challenge in the form of the fourth seed and former World No. 1 Laura Massaro.
It is heartening to see that Joshna has been able to translate the confidence she gained from the Commonwealth Games into such a colossal win. Even though the schedule is tiring, let us hope this gives her a big boost and she can keep her giant-killing run going.