The top three stars of Indian squash – Saurav Ghosal, Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal – got off to a thunderous start at the 73rd Senior National Squash Championships as the main draw began at this premier domestic tournament held at the Otters Club in Bandra, Mumbai on Thursday.
Top seed and 14-time women’s champion Chinappa, who broke into the top 10 this month, was in impeccable form as she brushed aside the challenge of Machuma Begam Choudhury 11-3, 11-0, 11-0. The World No. 10 will next meet the 9/16th seed Ananya Dabke who was the runner-up last year in the G13 category at the Sub-junior Nationals.
Joshna’s biggest rival and India’s No. 2 player Pallikal too made a strong start after playing for the first time since 2011. The second seed, who won the title in 2011, breezed past Nitu Sharma 11-0, 11-1, 11-0.
On Friday, she will be up against Avani Nagar.
Ghosal makes his much-awaited comeback
On the men’s side, the defending champion Saurav Ghosal made his much-awaited return to competition after being out of action since April due to a foot injury. The 29-year-old, who is representing Tamil Nadu, beat Uttar Pradesh player Ranjit Singh 11-3, 11-5, 11-8.
The 10-time winner will next face Vijay Kumar for a place in the semi-finals.
Others who made a fine start included the former men’s champion Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu, Swiss Open winner Mahesh Mangaonkar and rising stars Kush Kumar and Velavan Senthilkumar.
Sandhu had the toughest job out of the four. He had the top-seeded qualifier and the very experienced Gaurav Nandrajog as his first round opponent and expectedly, the match turned out to be an extremely tight one.
The World No. 84 did have the last laugh, carving out a tough 11-3, 11-6, 8-11, 4-11, 11-1 win for a place in the last-eight.