The top trio of Indian squash – Saurav Ghosal, Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal – had a smooth sailing on Friday as they advanced to the semi-finals of the 73rd Senior National Squash Championships at the Otters Club in Bandra, Mumbai.
The top-seeded Ghosal, who is seeking his 11th title, easily dismissed Vijay Kumar 11-8, 11-2, 11-6. He next faces the ¾ th seeded Vikram Malhotra, who won a marathon over the young ace Kush Kumar.
The 73rd ranked Malhotra, who had won three titles since November, needed five gruelling games to outlast the 20-year-old Kumar, 11-5, 8-11, 10-12, 11-9, 11-7.
In the other quarter-finals of the day, former champion Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu beat Ravi Dixit 11-6, 11-7, 11-3 to set up a meeting with familiar rival Mahesh Mangaonkar. The second-seeded Mangaonkar too was equally impressive as he beat rising star Velavan Senthilkumar 11-4, 11-6, 11-6.
Joshna and Dipika inch closer to the much-awaited final clash
On the women’s side, the top-seeded Chinappa made short work of Jui Kalgutkar 11-5, 11-6, 11-4 to book a berth in the last-four stage. The World No. 10, a 14-time champion at the Nationals, is only two wins short of matching Bhuvneshwari Kumari’s record of 16 titles.
Chinappa has promising talent Akanksha Salunkhe up next. The Goa girl, who is the reigning U-17 Sub-junior National champion, edged past Urwashi Joshi 12-10, 11-9, 11-5 in the quarter-finals.
Second seed and 2011 winner Dipika Pallikal Karthik brushed aside Lakshya Ragavendran 11-3, 11-4, 11-4 and will now face the World No. 81 Sachika Ingale for a place in Sunday’s summit clash. Ingale showed tremendous grit and resilience to carve out a five-game win over Aishwarya Bhattacharya in the pre-quarters and then come back for an easy 11-5, 11-4, 11-8 win over rising talent Adya Advani.