Ghosal ready to defend title at Chennai Open squash

July 2nd, 2008 - 6:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, July 2 (IANS) National squash champion Saurav Ghosal is hoping to successfully defend his title as the 16-player sixth ICL Chennai Open commences here Thursday. Given his Professional Squash Association (PSA) ranking of 55, Ghosal heads the seedings list, ahead of compatriot Ritwik Bhattacharya (57) in the $8,000 event that will be run concurrently with the women’s competition (WISPA), also offering equal prize money.

Both the events enjoy sizeable Indian presence with Joshna Chinnappa, ranked 37th, down two spots below her best of 35, seeded second in the women’s event behind Hong Kong’s Christina Mak, the highest ranked played in the tournament at 33.

Ghosal, the bronze medallist at the 2006 Doha Asian Games, feels he is up to the task of winning the title a second time given the form he is in, although his exit from the qualifying rounds at the Kuwait Open earlier this year indicates a difficult task for him at the Chennai Open.

A year ago, Ghosal was ranked 44, but is determined to secure precious points at the Chennai Open and improve his PSA ranking.

Coach Cyrus Poncha believed that the “compressed” draw could be an acid test for all the players. “You only need to win four matches to take the title, but you our out of the tournament if you lose just one match,” he said on the eve of the tournament.

Ghosal faces fellow-Indian Naresh Kumar and an comprehensive win should put the National champion in good heart.

In contrast, Bhattacharya has made a lot of ground in the past year, moving from 72 to the current 58 after overcoming a spate of injuries. He will be up against a qualifier in the first round.

The other Indians in the fray are Siddarth Suchde, Gaurav Nandrajog and Naresh Kumar (wild card). Four slots are to be filled up after the qualifying phase gets over.

The qualifying draw is filled up with the Indian team that is scheduled to take part in the World junior boys championship at Zurich later this month. The players are: Vikram Malhotra, Paramit Singh, Ravi Dixit, Karan Malik, Ramit Tandon and Aditya Jagtap.

On the distaff side, Joshna carries the Indian hopes after a string of strong performances this year that took her ranking to a career-high of 35 in May before she slipped to the present 37.

Having reached quarter-finals in three tournaments, semi-final that she conceded at Hangzhou and final in NSC Tour 12 and Vietnam Open, Joshna appears primed to win the crown here.

Joshna will be up against the more experienced Mak who has been on the tour for 12 years now, should the pair make it to the final as per the seedings. The two stand 1-1 in head-to-head clashes.

However, Joshna will have to contend with fourth seeded Annie Hu of Hong Kong in a possible semi-final clash. Here too, the two players are 1-1.

The women’s draw too is packed with junior Indian players for whom the Chennai Open is expected to provide exposure and experience ahead of the Asian junior championship in Korea later this year.

The seedings:
Men: 1. Saurav Ghosal (India, PSA ranking 55); 2. Ritwik Bhattacharya (India, 57); 3. Ryan Cuskelly (Australia, 61); 4. Mohammed Ali Anwar Reda (Egypt, 58); 5. Dick Lau (Hong Kong, 87); 6. Shamsul Islam Khan (Pakistan, 89); 7. Max Lee (Hong Kong, 107); Rob Sutherland (Wales, 95).

Women: 1. Christina Mak (Hong Kong, 33); Joshna Chinappa (India, 37); Orla Noom (Netherlands, 38); 4. Annie Hu (Hong Kong, 50); 5. Dipika Palliakal (India, 64); 6. Brigit Coufal (Austria, 95); 7. Anwesha Reddy (India, 169); 8. Shruthi Mishra (India, 235).

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