‘More experienced’ Dipika focussed on task at hand

Dipika Pallikal looks set to face Malaysia’s squash great Nicol David in the semifinals, but is not looking too far ahead.

Squash star Dipika Pallikal with her cousin and team-mate Sunayna Kuruvilla at the Asian Games in Jakarta on Wednesday. Photo: Stan Rayan

As she sweated it out with Dipika Pallikal at the GBK squash courts here, one could notice Sunayna Kuruvilla soaking in plenty of lessons. For the 19-year-old Kochi-born Sunayna, who started her squash journey 10 years ago inspired by her cousin Dipika, it is her maiden Asian Games, her biggest stage.

Dipika, along with Joshna Chinappa, helped India to its maiden silver at the 2014 Asian Games but now the World No. 19 feels a lot has changed from Incheon. “I think we’ve all become older. Obviously, you’re a lot more experienced when you come here four years down the line,” Dipika told Sportstar here on Wednesday.

MORE FROM THE ASIAN GAMES

Dipika, the 2014 Asiad singles bronze medallist, has a very tough draw here. She looks set to lock horns with Malaysia’s squash great Nicol David — a multiple World champion — in the semifinal but she is not looking too far ahead. “Before Nicol, I obviously have quarters so I can’t think so far ahead in such events. I think each game is important and there is the pressure that comes with it. And Nicol is a player I’ve never beaten.”

Dipika feels Malaysia and Hong Kong could be the sides to watch in the team event which follows the singles. “But I think we are among the top three and on a given day, we could be as good as anyone else but we don’t want to think about it,” said the 26-year-old.

For Sunayna, though her squash story started with Dipika, Sourav has made a big impact on her.

HER BIG INSPIRATION

“Obviously, Dipika is the first one but Sourav has been the biggest person to inspire me, he has always been part of the family,” said Sunayna, the World No. 88. “He is such a hard worker, he has gone against all odds and he is the highest-ranked Indian and No. 12 in the world which is amazing.”