Going for gold: Joshna fires India past Malaysia
Jakarta, August 31
Nicol David is a legend of the sport, an eight-time world champion, and winner of seven gold in squash in the Asian Games. She had beaten India’s Dipika Pallikal in the semifinals here on her way to winning her fifth singles gold in the Asian Games.
Today, Nicol faced India’s other star, Joshna Chinappa, in the team event. Nicol, 35, had lost to Joshna only once before in professional squash events — at the El Gouna International in Egypt this April. Before that, Nicol had run up a 5-0 record against Joshna. Joshna, 32 next month, fought hard to eke out a 10-12 9-11 11-6 12-10 9-11 win to hand India a 1-0 lead. Dipika Pallikal Karthik then beat Low Wee Wern to give India a winning 2-0 lead, for a place in the final against Hong Kong.
In 2010, Nicol had beaten Joshna 11-4 11-2 11-3 in the semifinals of the team event, and India had lost 0-2 to end up with bronze. This time, tables were turned and the Indian women entered the Asiad final for the second time in a row.
Joshna, world No. 16, fought hard and the match against Nicol went down to the wire. Joshna had a match ball on 10-9 in the fourth game but Nicol fought back to take the next three points, levelling the match at 2-2.
The crowd support was heavily in favour of Malaysia but the gritty Joshna overcame that. In the fifth game, she converted the match ball on 10-9 for the biggest win of her Asiad career. “I was very upset yesterday… I did not play the way I was supposed to play. Spoke to my parents and coach and that helped. Today, I just wanted to be myself,” said Joshna. “Nicol is such a champion. She always plays a fair game and today was no different.”
Nicol was gracious in defeat. “Joshna played really well. It was a very good match and I could not play my A game,” she said.
World No. 19 Dipika then beat former world No. 5 Low Wee Wern 11-2 11-9 11-7 to seal the tie for India. The Indian’s brute power was too much for Wee, who is on a comeback trail after a 20-month injury lay-off.
“The plan was definitely to rattle her with my power,” Dipika said later. “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.”
India had lost to Hong Kong 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 said.