Jakarta: Joshna Chinappa upstaged eight-time World Champion Nicol David as the Indian women’s squash team outplayed defending champions Malaysia 2-0 to enter their second successive Asian Games final here Friday.
The Indian men, who also entered the mega event as defending champions, settled for bronze after a 0-2 loss to Hong Kong in the semifinals. Saurav Ghosal, who was not fully fit, and Harinder Pal Sandhu, lost to Max Lee and Leo Au, 0-3 and 1-3 respectively.
Joshna Chinappa, World No.16, had a point to prove after a crushing loss against familiar foe Annie Au in the final pool match against Hong Kong. The tie against Nicol went down to the wire and was full of long gruelling rallies. Joshna had a match ball on 10-9 in the fourth game but the Malaysian fought back to take the next three points, levelling the opening singles at 2-2.
The crowd support was heavily in favour of Malaysia but not enough to distract the gritty Indian. This time she converted the match ball on 10-9 to complete the biggest win of her Asian Games career.
“I was very upset yesterday (Thursday) as you must have seen. I did not play the way I was supposed to. Spoke to my parents and coach and that helped. Today, I just wanted to be myself. Nicol is such a champion, so really happy to have won,” said Joshna after a 12-10, 11-9, 6-11, 10-12, 11-9 victory.
World No.19 Dipika Pallikal Karthik too did not play to her potential Thursday against Joey Chan. But Friday in the second singles, she came out firing on all cylinders against former World No.5 Low Wee Wern. Dipika won 11-2, 11-9, 11-7 and her brute power proved too much for Low.
“The plan was definitely to rattle her with my power. Wee Wern has been a top player and has already won three tournaments after her comeback. Also, I had to do it for Joshna. She played such a great match to get us on the brink of a win,” said Pallikal.
India will play Hong Kong in the final, against whom they lost in the group stage. “Hong Kong are as tough to beat as Malaysia. They have a very solid team. But our confidence has got a major boost after today,” Dipika pointed out.