Dipika Emerges Champion in Orange County

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Indian star Dipika Pallikal won her third WISPA title this week at the Tour 8 Orange County Open in California. 

The top seed was the hot favourite for the title and didn’t disappoint, coming through the tournament without dropping a game in all four matches, although it was far from easy.

The first round began with quick wins for top seeds Pallikal and USA’s second seed Latasha Khan. There were further comfortable wins for Dutch sixth seed Milou Van Der Heijden and Japanese number one and eighth seed Misaki Kobayashi. Third seed Manuela Manetta held off a major threat from Egyptian qualifier Salma Hany. The Italian number one took the first two games on tie breaks before Hany fought back to level the match. Manetta’s experience came through in the decider and she ran away with it to move into the quarter final.

Recent Dread Series Open champion Siyoli Waters was also made to work hard, taking four games to beat Mexican qualifier Diana Elise Garcia. Fourth seed Miranda Ranieri and seventh seed Thaisa Serafini couldn’t make it eight seeds through to the quarter finals as both fell, albeit in contrasting styles. South American number one Serafini fought for an hour before eventually losing to Canada’s Stephanie Edmison. Ranieri had no answer to the accuracy and speed of Egyptian qualifier Yathreb Adel and lost out in under twenty minutes.

The quarter finals saw another pair of straight game wins for top seeds Pallikal and Khan. Khan was never in trouble against Van Der Heijden and maintained a comfortable lead in all three games. Pallikal also looked in full control against Waters, but the South African wasn’t easy to shake off and she kept the top seed on court for fourty minutes. Manuela Manetta was again caught up in a battle, this time with Kobayashi. Manuetta took the first game but it was Kobayashi who went on to edge the match in four games. Fifteen year old Adel completed the last four line up with an easy win over surprise quarter finalised Edmison.

The crowd at the Sports Club were looking forward to a final between the top seed Pallikal and American favourite Khan. Only one of these players managed to make it through though. Pallikal recorded her third straight game win of the tournament against Kobayashi. The Japanese player didn’t give in easily and had opportunities throughout the match, especially in the second game where she held game ball but it was Pallikal’s attacking play that saw her move into the final. Adel continued her sensational run through the draw, this time coming from a game down to beat the seven time US Champion in four tight games and claim a place in her second tour final. The age gap between the two players was an incredible twenty three years.

Pallikal had all the pressure on her going into the final, especially playing a fifteen year old qualifier in her biggest final. The top seed however held her nerve in a gruelling straight game victory over Adel that lasted exactly one hour. The rallies were long and the pace was fast and Adel held her ground well. The fifteen year old had a chance to level the match in the second but came up just short. A great final for the first Orange County Open.

Pallikal claimed her first title of the year and edges closer to a place in the World’s top twenty. Adel will look to carry on her good form next week at the Southwest Open in Phoenix, Arizona.

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