Chennai: Talented Joshna Chinappa put paid to the aspirations of compatriot Dipika Pallikal, scoring a thrilling 3-2 win over the highly-ranked Indian in the semifinal of WISPA Challenger Squash championship.
World number 32 Joshna beat Dipika, ranked 23, 6-11, 11-9, 11-6, 6-11, 11-6 in a marathon 60-minute game.
Top seed Australian Donna Urquhart rallied after dropping the first game to defeat third seed Lisa Camilleri, also of Australia, 8-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-6.
Both Joshna and Dipika, knowing their strengths well, were playing cautiously in the beginning and waited for their chances to gain points.
In the first game, Dipika took five points in a row from a 3-all position, before Joshna made it 4-8 and then scored two winners with her front court play.
After a couple of hand outs, Dipika went on to serve and clinched the vital lead 1-0.
Joshna, heading towards winning her sixth WISPA title, second in her home country, was at her best in the second. Though, Joshna trailed (3-5), she kept her cool in exhibiting variety and improved her shot selections.
But, Dipika, did not give in easily, and matched her senior mate in levelling the score twice (6-6 and 9-9) with telling returns.
However, Joshna, the more experienced player on the circuit, had little difficulty in clinching the next two points for the game.
The third also went on similar lines of the first game and the rivals were going neck and neck. At times, Dipika was rather casual in her approach and lost concentration midway in the game. Joshna excelled with her boasts and front court play and from 5-3, she steadily scored to lead 10-6 before winning the game for a 2-1 score.
In the fourth game, Dipika consistently attacked and had Joshna pinned to the back court. She led 3-0 initially and then went ahead, serving for the game at 10-4. Here, Dipika was perhaps under pressure and this helped Joshna save two game points before losing the game at 6-11.
In the decider, both matched each other with their drops and play to the glass walls. However, Joshna outwitted Dipika number of times to take her score to 7-3 and then 8-4. Joshna had to exert every sinew to quell her before going on to win.
"I had prepared for the match mentally because Dipika has been playing well in the circuit. In fact, she had defeated higher ranked players with whom I had struggled. Today also, Dipika played well but I did not give her any opportunity to play shots, which is her strong point. I needed to go for winners early enough before being dragged on rallies, which I was able to succeeded," an elated Joshna said.
Joshna said she has shown improvement in her game compared to 2008 and 2009 seasons. "The fact that I was able to beat Dipika today was that I knew that she tends to error if I maintained my consistency. She is a tough rival and at times her strokes are brilliant. I hope to maintain my form for winning the title tomorrow."