New Delhi: India`s young woman squash sensation Dipika Pallikal`s hopes of winning sixth WISPA title of her career went up in smoke when she lost her title clash against Natalie Grinham of the Netherlands in the Tournament of Champions in New York.
Pallikal, playing her ninth match in 10 days, looked too tired and foot-weary as she lost 4-11 3-11 3-11 in 25 minutes while playing the biggest match of her career in Venderbilt Hall at Grand Central Terminal, last night.
Pallikal had created a flutter when she became the first Indian ever to reach the summit clash of a Silver event after clinching a three-set thriller against New Zealand`s Jaclyn Hawkes in the semifinals on Wednesday.
The final match-up was billed as a test of experience versus youth as 33-year-old Grinham, four-time former World Open finalist, and 20-year-old Chennai sensation Pallikal were out there to stamp their supremacy over each other in the USD 27,000 WISPA silver event.
But second seed Grinham taught her opponent a lesson about court coverage and strength. A mother of 19-month-old son, Grinham caught the seventh seed young sensation off guard and off balance for most part of the match.
The title triumph was Grinham`s third and biggest of her achievements since giving a birth to a baby boy.
The former world No 2 seemed relentless in picking up every offensive effort that Pallikal threw at her.
"Dipika is quite handy with the racquet and she volleys quite well, so I made sure not to put the ball where she could easily reach it," said Grinham.
She used length and width to keep Pallikal out of the middle of court. Her cross-court drop from the front left wall proved especially effective.
"I just did not have any strngth left in my legs," said Pallikal, India`s top ranked female player.
Meanwhile, top seed and current world number two Nick Matthew won his first Tournament of Champions title defeating his long-time rival James Willstrop, current world number one and the second seed, 8-11 11-9 11-5 11-7 in 85 minutes.
It was a resounding victory for the 30-year-old Englishman who was in his fourth Tournament of Champions final and playing his first tournament after two months off the tour to recover from an injury.
"This win is right alongside the Worlds and Commonwealth Games gold medals as my best victories," said the Yorkshireman after winning the prestigious PSA World Series title.
Besides the trophy, Matthew also won back the world number one ranking which he had held for all of 2011, but slipped from the top when he had to take the injury hiatus from the tour.