India's top-ranked squash player Saurav Ghosal stormed into the record books on Monday when he became the first Indian male to crack into the elite list of top-10 players in the world. He moved two places above from his earlier ranking of 12 to and is currently the only Asian in the top-10.
Two Indian women — Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal Karthik — had earlier reached the top-10 in the world rankings but failed to consolidate.
A quarterfinal finish in the 2018-2019 PSA World Championships in Chicago, USA for the first time in his career and the same stage finish at the prestigious Grasshopper Cup in Zurich, Switzerland, in March was instrumental in lifting Ghosal's rankings.
He had reached a then career-high of 11 in October 2018. He slipped a place after the Qatar Classic and Hong Kong Open where he was knocked out in the third and second rounds respectively.
Training with David Palmer, who has produced many top-10 players, since June 2018 proved to be a masterstroke for Ghosal. "It all started last summer when I began training with David. I felt my game was more secure, especially with him at the helm. I started backing up and reproducing a lot more of what I learnt in training. I got mentally stronger and secure. Throughout the season, wherever I was playing, I felt at home," Ghosal said.
He continued that the secret of success is good teamwork. He has been training with Malcolm Willstrop from the age of 18 and Damon Brown has been his physical trainer for six years now. "We built my ambition step by step. It didn't happen overnight. It has taken years, a lot of hard work and more importantly a lot of things that have come together and it was teamwork," he said.
The 32-year-old feels training out of India is the best way to scale up. "I think Indians have to move out to reach greater heights in the sport. We don't have top-10 players playing in India. Even in terms of coaching, the level of expertise isn't there in the country. Experience is something that you cannot substitute and we get that abroad," he opined.
Having achieved his target for the year, Ghosal is now eager to scale greater heights. "Reaching the top-10 was a goal this year. I am happy to have realised that goal. Every player wants to be World No. 1 and I am no different. I am not taking any timelines to get there but I want to take it as it comes. The cue is to get better and improve. If I need to change a few things to be there, I will," he said.
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