Squash stars Ghosal, Joshna eye 2014 CWG, Asian Games medals

Mumbai: Indian squash stars Saurav Ghosal, Joshna Chinappa, along with top-100 player Harinder Pal Sandhu, are all set to go into the New Year with an eye fixed on two big multi-sporting events, the Commonwealth and Asian Games, in 2014.

"We have two big events coming up in 2014, the Commonwealth Games (in Glasgow, Scotland) and the Asian Games (in Incheon, South Korea). I want to play in both and win medals," Ghosal, who is here to take part as the defending men`s champion in the 38th Bombay Gymkhana Maharashtra State Open Senior Championship that commenced here on wednseday, said.

World no. 15 Ghosal won an individual bronze as well as the men`s team bronze in the 2010 Asian Games held at Guangzhou, China, where the women`s squad, too, finished in third place.

"I played in 13 PSA (Professional Squash Association) events this year and I played pretty well and my ranking has gone up to 15. Making the last eight at the Worlds (the first from India) was the high point of my season. The focus now is to make the quarters and the semis on a consistent basis."

The 27-year-old Bengal player, who has moved back to India and specifically to his home city Kolkata after 12 years, lost in the quarterfinals to world no. 1 Ramy Ashour in Manchester, England, in the world championship.

The bespectacled player said at present the country is going through a golden period in the racquet game as it has a host of top rated players, including two women`s players -- Joshna and world no. 12 Dipika Pallikal.

"No one has gone as far as I did (in the worlds). Dipika and Joshna have done things that no other women players had done before. We also have Harry (Harinder) and Mahesh (Mangaonkar). We all have a few more years (in the game)," he said.

World no. 26 Joshna, who has come back to top flight squash after suffering a career-threatening knee injury last year that needed surgery, said her aim was to get into the top 20 in a few months and improve her ranking to get a favourable draw in the CWG (July 23-August 3) and Asian Games (September 19-October 4).

"I want to get into the top 20 in a few months and then
15, 10...The improved rankings would help to get a favourable draw in the Commonwealth and Asian Games," said Joshna.

The 26-year-old from Chennai said she was pleased to have ended this year on a high note, making the quarterfinals of the Hong Kong Open earlier this month, where she lost in four games to fourth seeded English rival Allison Waters.

Joshna said she and her Chennai-mate Dipika stood a good chance to win a women's doubles medal in the Glasgow CWG as they jell very well as a team.

"We have a very good chance of winning a doubles medal in CWG. We combine well. She has her strengths and I have mine. We were in with a chance in the last games (at Delhi in 2010) before Dipika fell ill two days before."

She said CWG looked tougher than the Asian Games as there would be a lot many top players from Australia, England, New Zealand.

"But both are tough events," she added.

Harinder Pal Sandhu, ranked 80th in the world and a member of the Asian Games men's squad that clinched bronze in 2010, recalled how all the squash players felt very sad when the game did not get into the Olympics earlier this year and lost out to the age-old discipline of wrestling.

"It was a big blow for squash. We were all in Kuala Lumpur when the voting took place," he said.

Ghosal said squash deserved to be in the Games, but said now that it has not happened the sport needed to do so well in future so that the International Olympic Committee is eager to include it.

"World Squash Federation had spent a lot of money in bidding to enter the Olympics. So did the other sports which wanted to get in. The bidding process needs to be changed as a lot of money goes down the drain," he said.