Pallikal Powers To Kasey Conquest In New York

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RESULTS: Carol Weymuller Open, New York, USA

1st round:
[1] Nicol David (MAS) bt Donna Urquhart (AUS) 11-8, 11-5, 11-4
Dipika Pallikal (IND) bt [8] Kasey Brown (AUS) 6-11, 10-12, 13-11, 11-8, 11-9
[3] Raneem El Weleily (EGY) bt [Q] Line Hansen (DEN) 11-9, 11-3, 11-4
[5] Joelle King (NZL) bt Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) 11-7, 11-4, 11-8
[7] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) bt [Q] Victoria Lust (ENG) 11-5, 11-5, 11-4
Camille Serme (FRA) bt [4] Alison Waters (ENG) 11-7, 11-13, 11-4, 11-9
[6] Low Wee Wern (MAS) bt [Q] Nicolette Fernandes (GUY) 13-11, 11-7, 4-11, 11-3
[2] Laura Massaro (ENG) bt [Q] Aisling Blake (IRL) 11-4, 11-6, 11-7

Indian squash star Dipika Pallikal played one of the best games of her life in the opening round of the Carol Weymuller Open in New York when she recovered from two games down – and saved a match-ball in the third – to upset Australia’s No8 seed Kasey Brown and reach the quarter-finals of the Women’s Squash Association Gold 50 event celebrating its 40th anniversary at The Heights Casino in Brooklyn.

“It was the longest and most exciting match of the evening and the only five setter,” said Heights Casino Director of Squash Linda Elriani. “Kasey and Dipika were 4-1 in their head to heads in Kasey’s favour.”

Brown, the US-based world No11, started strongly and managed to contain underdog Pallikal’s shot selection – winning the first two games. In the third, Brown led 9-7 before reaching match-ball at 10-9 – but was unable to convert it as Pallikal, ranked six places lower, dug in to take the game 13-11.

Pallikal took the fourth to set up a decider. “The points were pretty much even all the way through the fifth until 9-9 and Kasey got a no let in the front backhand corner to take Dipika to 10-9 match ball,” Elriani continued. “Dipika took her chance on the first attempt and went through to take the match 3/2.”

A thrilled Pallikal said after her 6-11, 10-12, 13-11, 11-8, 11-9 victory: “I’m really, really, pleased to get through. When my mum told me I was in the main draw, I didn’t believe her as I was thinking that I was going to have to qualify.

“So I wanted to take advantage of being in the main draw. I came all the way to the USA for one tournament as I am playing in Macau, China, in a week’s time,” added the 22-year-old from Chennai.

“I had 3 months off tournaments this summer so I trained with Sarah Fitz-Gerald in Australia, trained with Ritwik (Bhattacharya) in Bombay and in Chennai with my fitness trainer Basu – and I think it made the difference. I’m really thankful to Sarah as she has put a lot of effort in for me and she’ll be really pleased that I won today!”

A disappointed Brown added: “I was 2/0 and had match ball in the third! I knew it was going to be tough and I think I went a little defensive in the third and fourth and in the end she was able to pull it out. She played well.”

Pallikal will go on to meet top seed Nicol David, the world number one form Malaysia who won the title in 2005. The 30-year-old from Penang – eager to make up for a shock quarter-final exit last year – despatched Australia’s Donna Urquhart 11-8, 11-5, 11-4.

Urquhart, returning to full strength after a foot injury, commented: “I feel a little bit disappointed with the way I played. I’m just happy to be back playing again. I was enjoying being on court and I wish I could have been on court longer. I feel keen and I feel like I’m starting over and working on getting back to where I was before I was injured.”

David, looking for a second successive WSA title after winning the Malaysian Open last month, was delighted to have survived the first hurdle: “It’s nice to have a good win in the first round. The first game with Donna she was volleying and reading the game well and I made a few errors. I think I just started to tighten up better at the end of the first and kept solid in the second and third.”

There was another significant upset later when France’s unseeded Camille Serme ousted fourth-seeded English opponent Alison Waters 11-7, 11-13, 11-4, 11-9 – a repeat of last month’s shock straight games Malaysian Open win by Serme over the world No4 from London.

“I’m very happy obviously!” said Serme, the world No10 from Creteil. “Twice I’ve beaten her in three weeks! First in KL and now here!

“I think that she played better here than in KL. The rallies were long and we were both a bit up and down in this match, but it was a good battle. Now I need to go on the bike and then stretch.”

A disconsolate Waters said: “It was close in the first and second. Camille played well. She was hitting her areas well and I wasn’t really in front much. I’m pretty disappointed.”

There was better English news later when second seed Laura Massaro successfully began her defence of the title with an 11-4, 11-6, 11-7 win over Irish qualifier Aisling Blake.

“It was tough going on late, it just felt like a really long day,” said Massaro, the world No2 from Preston who won the trophy last year for the first time after her second appearance in the final. “I’m obviously glad to come through in three. I thought Aisling was feeling the effects of her five setter yesterday. I was catching her out with a few boasts and I just have to be careful with that tomorrow.”

Massaro now faces Malaysia’s No6 seed Low Wee Wern who defeated Guyana qualifier Nicolette Fernandes 13-11, 11-7, 4-11, 11-3.

There were also impressive wins by former champions Raneem El Weleily and Jenny Duncalf. Third seed El Weleily, the 2011 champion, leads Egyptian interest in the quarter-finals after an 11-9, 11-3, 11-4 win over Danish qualifier Line Hansen.

Duncalf, the only two-time winner in the field, beat English compatriot Victoria Lust 11-5, 11-5, 11-4.

“Lusty looked good yesterday in her quali match so I wasn’t taking her lightly,” said 2009 and 2010 champion Duncalf. “Canada seems to be agreeing with her. I was happy I managed to control the ball in the hot conditions.

“I’m happy to be back in Brooklyn. It feels like home!”

Quarter-final line-up:
[1] Nicol David (MAS) v Dipika Pallikal (IND)
[3] Raneem El Weleily (EGY) v [5] Joelle King (NZL)
Camille Serme (FRA) v [7] Jenny Duncalf (ENG)
[2] Laura Massaro (ENG) v [6] Low Wee Wern (MAS)

Events

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