Joshna Chinappa today scripted history by becoming the first Indian to clinch the Asian Squash title with a thrilling win over compatriot Dipika Pallikal Karthik in the women’s final.
In the men’s final, however, Saurav Ghosal went down fighting against No.1 seed Max Lee to finish second best.
In a clash between two players, who train together at the Indian Squash Academy here, Chinappa held off a fighting Pallikal 13-15, 12-10, 11-13, 11-4, 11-4 in 78 minutes to win probably her biggest title.
The first game saw the two Indians go toe-to-toe as they mixed aggression with strong defence. Pallikal squeezed out the opener as her rival faltered at the end.
The second game was another long one and went to the extra points again as neither gave away an inch. However, in a reversal of fortunes, Chinappa saved a game point to level the match.
The third game was another close affair as the Indians sought to forge ahead. It was even-stevens as both the players had to work hard to win every point. Pallikal saved two game points to take a crucial lead.(PTI)
Chinappa, however, wasn’t shaken after falling behind and came out all guns blazing to ran away with the fourth game as Pallikal made too many errors for her own comfort.
At the start of the decider, Pallikal suffered a mild injury scare as she slipped and fell on the court. But Chinappa kept her cool and stormed to a big lead.
Pallikal fought back, but only briefly as the world No.14 Chinappa sealed a memorable triumph in front of a cheering crowd.
Earlier, Ghosal faded after a bright start, which saw him win the opening game, dropping just five points, to go down 11-5, 4- 11, 8-11, 7-11 in 61 minutes against Lee, ranked 17 in the world.
The Indian, cheered by a holiday crowd at the Express Avenue mall, was quickly off the blocks and hit some delectable shots to take the opening game.
Undeterred by the loss of the first game, Lee roared back and ran away to win the second to level the match.
The third game was a long one as both gave nothing away. Ghosal played well but his rival always had the answers to whatever was thrown at him. He hit some superb winners of his own to take the third game and gain an edge.
The fourth game appeared to be heading to a rout as Lee surged to a 8-2 lead before Ghosal fought back. He saved two championship points before handing the no.1 seed his maiden Asian title.