Saurav wins Otters PSA: Newspaper articles
Aug 15, 2006 Leave a comment
Times Of India: Another match against Ritwik Bhattacharya and the feeling in the air was that the result, barring minor hiccups, would be a forgone conclusion, considering the India No 1’s domination over Saurav Ghosal over the years. For the first two games in the PSA Otters Open Squash Tournament final, it seemed very much the case as World No 43 Ritwik jumped to a 2-0 lead and was inching closer to his seventh title win on the PSA Tour .
But interestingly, there was to be a twist in the tale. For all the talk about Ritwik walking away with it, there was something different about Saurav on Friday. It seemed he was destined to win the title. Last November, a possessed Ritwik had blasted past the India No 2 in the Senior Nationals. The roles were reversed this time. Cheered on by a boisterous crowd, a possessed Saurav staged a brilliant comeback. Fighting back from two games down, the World No 59 stunned Ritwik in a marathon five game match. It took him 75 minutes to win his maiden PSA Tour title 9-11 8-11 11-6 11-6 11-10 (2-0).
The duo are good friends and travelling partners on the PSA Tour and thus knew each others game inside out. So, it turned out to be a cat and mouse affair. In the end, it was a matter of who will blink first. Saurav did blink but not without a fight in the first two games. Down 5-9, Saurav clawed back to level 9-9 before Ritwik prevailed. But Ritwik’s downfall was expected as he had looked a wee bit rusty the whole week. Barring moments of brilliance, Ritwik’s game seemed too predictable and Saurav read it well. In the decider, Ritwik led 9-7 before enjoying two match balls at 10-8 and 10-9, but hit the tin on two occasions while Saurav earned a ‘stroke’ in between to surge to a crucial 11-10 advantage. Another ‘stroke’ and Ghosal had it in the bag. “It was a hard match especially coming back from two games down. I was not getting my shots in the first two games, while Ritwik hit the ball really well. The pressure is always there while playing Ritwik. But I hung in there and tried to get my rhythm,’’ said Saurav. Down but not out, Ritwik said, “I don’t think I could do anything different. Saurav played well, you have to hand it to him. I had earlier lost in five games to Manish Chotrani and Siddharth Suchde on the same court. I guess losing to Saurav was the only thing remaining.’’
Hindustan Times: The odds were hopelessly insurmountable, but in a surreal blaze of glory, the underdog surpassed them. Saurav Ghosal, after been two games down, went on to save two match balls in the fifth game and eventually won his first PSA title, defeating India no. 1 Ritwik Bhattacharya here at the Otters Club before a packed house that also had actor Aamir Khan and wife Kiran Rao. Ghosal won the draining 75-minute match 9-11 8-11 11-5 11-6 11-10 (2-0).
The India no. 2 remained unfazed by a few ‘dodgy refereeing calls’ and also a verbal exchange in the middle of the fifth game with Bhattacharya. While Ghosal sliced like a dream and made up most of his luck, Bhattacharya hit two tins and a stroke that allowed his opponent to draw level and then win the best-of-two extra-points. Interestingly, Bhattacharya had never lost his six previous PSA finals. On Sunday, his racquet grip was also hampered by a finger injury he suffered in the fourth game. The finger, on his right hand, started bleeding after a fall and the match had to be stalled briefly before he aided by an icepack and bandaging, got back into the court. The first game, which Ghosal lost, showed glimpses of what might follow later in the evening. Ghosal, who turned 20 recently, committed Bhattacharya to long rallies but was struggling to finish them off, even though his impeccable cross-court slicing kept him in business. He lost two-hard fought games and then started the turnaround. With the exception of one six-year-old who shouted “C’mon Ritwik” at every possible chance, the entire crowd was behind the slightly built Ghosal, quite the David in comparison to the Goliath Bhattacharya. Ghosal powered his way to a 5-0 lead and won the third game. The same happened in the fourth, as Ghosal had moved to a 7-4 lead when Bhattacharya lunged at a difficult ball, tumbled and hurt a finger.
The crowd now was madly cheering Ghosal on, with a massive turnaround and upset on cards. With the score at 5-5 in the fifth game, the players got into a brief argument over a call. Ghosal, much inexperienced in front of Bhattacharya, maintained his composure and saved two match balls to draw level at 10-10. And when the referee allowed him a stroke, Ghosal broke into a wild celebration.