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Saurav Ghosal can take a lot of positives from his final run at Abierto Colombiano

219   //    12 Aug 2015, 13:28 IST
Saurav Ghosal had a brilliant run in Abierto Colombiano despite finishing second in the tournament

India’s No. 1 Saurav Ghosal had a lot to be positive about even though he failed to cross the last hurdle at the $50k Abierto Colombiano against Mexican qualifier Alfredo Avila last Saturday. The final played in Bogota, the Colombian capital was the biggest that the Indian has reached this season.

And it didn’t come easily for the World No. 19. He had to take out the top seed and the World No. 4 Miguel Rodriguez in an enthralling semi-final that re-inforced the fact that Saurav is one of the best that India has ever produced.

Here’s a look at Saurav Ghosal’s performances at the Abierto Colombiano –

First round – The sixth-seeded Saurav Ghosal started with a convincing 11-3, 11-1, 11-3 win over Colombian wildcard Sebastian Laguna.

Quarter-finals – The Kolkata lad then used his experience to get past the reigning World Junior Champion Diego Elias. The 18-year-old Peruvian arrived in the Colombian capital with a rich vein of form after having also clinched the silver medal at the PanAm Games. The confident teenager even took the first game 11-8 but the calm and patient Saurav manoeuvred the match from there, winning 8-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-3 to advance to the semis.

Semi-finals – It was a classic contest that surely would live as one of the most dramatic matches of the year. Saurav was up against the defending champion and home favourite Miguel Rodriguez. The fourth-ranked player had the entire crowd rooting for him, but that did not deter Saurav.

The Indian squash ace grabbed the first two games 11-8, 12-10 and an upset was on the cards. But the Colombian No. 1 refused to wilt away. He stormed back to take the next two games 11-7, 11-4 and enforced a decider as the World No. 19 made a few unforced errors.

In a highly entertaining fifth game, it was Rodriguez who inched ahead and was within sniffing distance of a victory after holding three match balls at 10-7. But the unflappable Saurav put up a thunderous show of resilience and self-belief from there. Thriving under pressure, he brought out his best to take the next five points and snatch victory 11-8, 12-10, 7-11, 4-11, 12-10 in 1 hour 41 minutes.  

Saurav was naturally elated after the triumph and called it a special match – “It is a great win to beat Miguel in Colombia and I guess it required a special match and performance to beat him.”

Final – Ghosal, unfortunately, had nothing left in the tank after the marathon semi-final win which left him drained out both physically and emotionally. He still did manage to clinch the second game 11-8 versus Alfredo Avila.

The Mexican, however, was brimming with confidence after reaching the final from the qualifying rounds. The World No. 54 was sharp and accurate in his shots and completed the upset 11-9, 8-11, 11-4, 11-8 victory over Saurav to win his biggest PSA title.

The thrilling victory over Miguel Rodriguez proves that Saurav Ghosal is getting closer to being the world’s best. The equanimity and determination in high-pressure situations are showing once again. Right before this tournament, he came back from two games down against compatriot Harinder Pal Sandhu in the final of the National Championships. And he displayed enough glimpses of that resolute attitude even in Colombia.

Besides, this is his second consecutive final at the PSA level after going down to the top-seeded Max Lee at the HKFC International in May.

The positives are abundant. If Saurav can maintain his focus and consistency in the next few tournaments, he should be knocking on the doors of the top 10 pretty soon.

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A freelance journalist based in Kolkata who is a diehard Rafael Nadal fan. She is also extremely passionate about India’s progress in sports and hopes to throw light on India’s unsung sports heroes through her articles. When not screaming her lungs out in support of her favourite sports stars, she can be seen reading, watching movies or immersed in planning her next travel destination!
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