National Squash Championship: Urwashi sets up final clash against Joshna

Urwashi Joshi came up with her best game to defeat Aparajitha Balamurukan 11-6, 12-14, 6-11, 11-7, 11-6 in the women’s semifinals.

Joshna Chinappa plays a shot in her semifinal match against Sachika Banvani.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

Urwashi Joshi came up with her best game to defeat Aparajitha Balamurukan 11-6, 12-14, 6-11, 11-7, 11-6 in the women’s semifinals of the HCL 75th National Squash Championship at the HCL Hub here on Saturday.

On a cold evening, after the sun had set to provide the right kind of light for the outdoor glass court, Urwashi was able to step it up at the crunch.

"I was making a few errors midway. Once I corrected them, I was in control," said the second seeded Urwashi, quite happy to have pulled off a thriller.

A trainee of coaches Lakshman Singh and Kunwar Pal Singh in Mumbai, the three-time National junior champion Urwashi said that she was looking forward to a good final against top seed Joshna Chinappa, whom she had stretched to four games.

Joshna proved too hot for Sachika Banvani at the start, but the latter shrugged it off to give a robust fight, pulling off the third game, before the perennial champion affixed her touch of class, in closing out the contest.

In the men’s section, it was a dampener to match the cold conditions, as top seed Mahesh Mangaonkar bulldozed his training partner Abhishek Pradhan, conceding a 13 points in all in three games.

"I can play better. He is coming up now, and I was prepared," said Mahesh who won the third game at love and said that the idea was to execute in similar fashion in the whole match.

The other semifinal did not take off, as second seed and former champion Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu retired in the first game, trailing 2-9 against the energetic Vikram Malhotra, owing to a stiff lower back.

Vikram Malhotra, who trains in New York with former World No.1, coach Theirry Lincou of France, will be playing his second final after 2016. Vikram said that he was prepared for a good show this time.

"I have won nine Pro Tour titles, and four this season. I had beaten Mahesh in the PSA final last year in Scotland. He is playing well and am looking forward to good match," said Vikram, who was ranked a career best No.55.

"I wanted to have a good match today," said Vikram, a bit disappointed at not having a contest, and opted to hit the glass for some time after his opponent retired.

The results:

Men (semifinals): Mahesh Mangaonkar bt Abhishek Pradhan 11-7, 11-6, 11-0; Vikram Malhotra bt Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu 9-2 (conceded).

Women (semifinals): Joshna Chinappa bt Sachika Balvani 11-1, 11-9, 8-11, 11-7; Urwashi Joshi bt Aparajitha Balamurukan 11-6, 12-14, 6-11, 11-7, 11-6.

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