Ghosal, Pallikal look to end year on a high
Hong Kong: India`s numero uno squash players, Saurav Ghosal and Dipika Pallikal, will be looking to end the year on a high when they compete against the world`s best in the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open, starting here from Tuesday.
The WSA World Series Gold event -- the last of the year -- gets underway with the main rounds at the Hong Kong Squash Centre tomorrow after two days of qualifying. It will then move to an all-glass court at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre for the semi-finals on December 7 and finals on December 8.
World No. 12 Pallikal has been seeded 14th in the women`s event and will open her campaign against unseeded Egyptian Nour El Tayeb. Pallikal, 22, recently got engaged to Indian cricketer Dinesh Karthik, 28, in Chennai and both have decided to tie the nuptial knot sometime in 2015.
Pallikal is in red-hot form -- winning the biggest title of her career in Macau Open, the Women`s Squash Association (WSA) Silver band event in October. She defeated former world No.1 Rachael Grinham of Australia in the final and also beaten World No. 11 Australian Kasey Brown in the Carol Weymuller Open Gold 50 event in New York.
Pallikal has seven World Squash tour titles and five tour finals to her credit. Her Chennai teammate and India`s No.2 woman player, Joshna Chinappa will also be seen in action at the USD 77,000 event. She will face tough opponent in World No.7 Natalie Grinham of The Netherlands in her tournament opener.
The reigning national champion Joshna, who achieved her highest-ever world ranking of 24 last month, recently won the third edition of the NSCI Squash Open in Mumbai.
The 27-year-old has taken giant strides after her comeback from a career threatening knee injury last year that saw her rankings plummet to 72. She was also conferred with the Arjuna Award this year. Malaysia`s world number one Nicol David is seeded to win her ninth successive trophy and will open her title defence against a qualifier.
In the men`s section, Ghosal, who yesterday rose to a career-high 15th in the men`s world rankings, will face a qualifier in his first round on Wednesday. Ghosal is coming into the tournament on the back of some impressive performances in the last two months which included his quarterfinal finish in the World Championship in Manchester - the first-ever by an Indian - and NSCI Squash Open title triumph.
The 27-year-old from Kolkata has made steady progress on the Tour, winning five titles from eight final appearances.
Other Indians in the fray -- Harinder Pal Sandhu and Mahesh Mangaonkar -- are competing in the qualifiers to make the main draw.
While Sandhu will take on England`s Adrian Waller in his qualifying final, Mangaonkar will lock horns against another Englishman, Joe Lee.