Ghosal beats Weller, to meet higher-ranked Shabana next

Updated: Dec 15, 2010, 19:29 PM IST

New Delhi: Local favourite Saurav Ghosal
survived some early challenge before edging past English
qualifier Adrian Weller in straight games in the opening
round of the ongoing Punj Lloyd PSA Masters squash tournament
here on Wednesday.

World ranked 22, Ghosal defeated Weller 11-7, 12-10, 11-6
in 45 minutes to move into the pre-quarterfinals of the USD
1,92,5000 event at the Siri Fort Sports Complex here.

Ghosal, the lone surviving Indian in the men`s event, has
an uphill task at hand as he will be meeting third seed and
world ranked sixth Amr Shabana of Egypt in the last-16
tomorrow.

Shabana made short work of unseeded Steve Coppinger of
South Africa 11-7, 11-6, 11-4 in 29 minutes in his opening round
encounter.

The other Indians in fray in the men`s section --
Harinder Pal Sandhu, Sandeep Jangra and Siddharth Suchde --
crashed out of the event yesterday.

Among other seeded players, ninth seed Daryl Selby and
fifth seed Peter Barker of England also advanced to the
pre-quarters of the six-day-long event.

In the match between Ghosal and inexperienced Weller, the
Indian was stretched to the maximum in the first game, lasting
around 17 minutes.

It was a close first game with fortunes fluctuating from
one end to the other but Ghosal kept his calm and waited for
mistakes from his opponent, which Weller committed towards the
end moments.

Down 0-1, Weller came out with more purpose in the second
game and gave Ghosal a tough time with long rallies, which
left the Indian mentally and physically drained.

Both the players showed great athleticism and there were
moments when Weller looked on course to level the scoreline
but Ghosal raised his game when it mattered and made it 2-0 by
a slender of a margin.

The third game was no different as both the players were
locked at 5-5 initially but Ghosal proved his supremacy over
the Englishman and used his famed footwork to perfection to
notch up the hard-fought victory.

"He (Weller) played really well, almost neck-and-neck.
Only after winning the first two games I felt little bit
relaxed. He is a good upcoming player and that showed in his
game," Ghosal said after the match.

The Guangzhou Asian Games bronze medallist said he will
have to raise his level of play to register an upset win over
Shabana in the next round.

"Shabana is a great player. Hopefully, I can play well
against him tomorrow. I just need to focus on my strengths to
create an upset. I have to really raise my level as everyone
on the circuit knows about his ability," said the Kolkata-born
player about Shabana against whom he lost 2-3 in the
pre-quarters of the same event last year.

Ghosal`s coach and second seed Englishman James
Willstrop`s father, Malcolm Willstrop, said the Indian applied
more European approach to his game today which eventually
resulted in his win.

"He used more European approach today. Ghosal was quite
calm all throughout the match and that worked in his favour.
He is a very clever guy and knows when to raise his game.
Overall, it was a good performance," said Malcolm.

On his encounter against Ghosal tomorrow, Shabana said,
"He is a very tough player and I am expecting a good match.
The crowd will also be behind him. But I hope to carry on my
today`s performance in the later stages of the tournament."

In the morning session earlier in the day, Selby defeated
unseeded countrymate Joey Barrington 11-6, 12-10, 11-9 while
Barker got the better of another unseeded Omar Abdeel Aziz of
Egypt 12-10, 8-11, 11-6, 11-2.

The USD 36,500 women`s event, WISPA Masters, will begin
from tomorrow with top international female players, including
top seed Jeeny Duncalf of England, second seed Australian
Kasey Brown, fourth seed Jaclyn Hawkes of New Zealand vying
for the trophy.

India`s Aparajitha Balamurukam and Anaka Alankamony have
secured their places in the main draw of the women`s event.

While Aparajitha got a bye over Pakistan`s Saima Shoukat
in her final qualifying match, Anaka defeated compatriot
Anwesha Reddy 11-3, 11-6, 12-10 in straight games to make it to
the main draw.

Aparajitha will meet third seed Camille Serme of France,
while Anaka will face sixth seed Malaysian Low Wee Wern in the
first round.

Indian challenge in the women`s event will be spearheaded
by country`s top ranked player Dipika Pallikal and Joshna
Chinappa.

PTI