It was a tough draw luck for Velavan Senthilkumar (IND) against former India champ and World No. 57 Harinderpal Singh Sandhu in today’s Main Draw. The up-and-comer made a spirited game, but Sandhu — always on form for a home crowd of juniors from the Indian Squash Academy, where he trains — barely broke a sweat. Sandhu could afford to be gracious, calling for a let on the game point of the second game after refs called it in his favour. He took the replay quickly with a lovely drop, and dominated the rest of the match, winning 11-6, 11-4, 11-7 in 30 minutes.
Asian Games gold medalist flies in at 5 am, wins at 5pm
Abdullah Al Muzayen (KUW), the man best remembered by most Indian squash fans as the player to steal gold from Saurav Ghosal in the Asian Games, came, saw, and moved one step closer to conquering today. Al Muzayen flew into town at five in the morning, only to play and win a grueling 5-game match against countryman Ammar Altamimi just 12 hours later. Altamimi did not make it easy. He pushed Al Muzayen far into extra points in the third game, which would ultimately prove the deciding game. Altamimi took the next, to level it 2-2, but couldn’t hold on. Both players were drooping by the last game, and Al Muzayen showed just that much more grit and took the match 9-11, 11-6, 16-14, 4-11, 11-8 in 60 minutes.
Men’s qualifiers upset 4th, 8th seeds
Youssef Soliman (EGY) upset fourth-seed Mohamed Elgawarhy (EGY) 3-1 in a 50-minute match. Soliman must have gained a sound feel for the court during yesterday’s qualifying rounds because after yielding the first game to the more experienced Elgawarhy, he shot back with three wins in quick succession to take a quarterfinal spot out from under his countryman. Elsewhere, Mohd Syafiq Kamal (MAS) upset 8th-seed Matias Tuomi in similar fashion. Tuomi pushed Kamal into extra points in the first game, and took the second with an early run of 7-3, but from here it was Kamal’s game, and he owned the play until taking the match 12-10, 7-11, 11-3, 11-4 in 37 minutes.
Luck out for Indian women
Indian hopes for a woman champion of the JSW Indian Squash Circuit Chennai died today, as all Indian women lost in the first round of the tournament’s Main Draw. Sachika Ingale (IND) stood the best chance, as the tournament’s 10th-seed, but faced a tough draw against 8th-seed Tong Tsz-Wing of Hong Kong. Ingale started each game strong, even taking a small lead in the third, but in typical fashion, was unable to hold it and turn it around once she fell behind. Tsz-Wing took the match 11-6, 11-4, 11-6 in 26 minutes. The remaining Indian women, Akanksha Salunkhe, Sunayna Kuruvilla, Apoorva AVS Samita, Ashita Pranaya Bhengra, and Janet Vidhi also lost decisively in today’s draw, though Kuruvilla and Bhengra managed to take one game off their opponents, Hong Kong’s Liu Tsz-Ling and Lee Ka Yi respectively.
No upsets in women’s tournament; top seeds pass into QF
Top-seed Milou van der Heijden (NED) sailed into tomorrow’s quarterfinal after winning 3-0 against Sadia Gul (PAK). Gul struggled to find her legs in the first game, appearing slow of the T and lagging just behind van der Heijden’s shots. The second saw Gul pick up her pace, send out a couple of nice kills past van der Heijden, and push her opponent into extra points. But Gul gave up her best chance at 11-11. From there, it was van der Heijden’s match, 11-, 13-11, 11-8 in 25 minutes.
Elsewhere, second-seed Nouran El Torky, of Egypt, entered the quarterfinal, too, pushing past Sammer Anjum of Pakistan in three quick games. El Torky’s trademark speed proved too much for Anjum, who, like her countrywoman, missed her best chance for a win late in the second game in extra points. El Torky won 11-7, 12-10, 11-6 in 24 minutes.