Indiatimes interview with Ritwik

World number 41 Ritwik Bhattacharya on Tuesday denied he would be looking for revenge when he comes up against Sourav Ghosal in the 54th national squash championships beginning on Wednesday.
“No, not at all. Sourav is a high calibre player now, not a kid anymore. I have been on the international circuit for five years now. Hopefully my experience will stand me in good stead,” Bhattacharya said on the eve of the championships. And there is also Siddarth Suchde, who is also a very good player. So it is not going to be all about us,” added the defending champion.

Men’s squash in India has seen an interesting rivalry between the 27-year-old Bhattacharya and Ghosal who have featured in the last three finals. Bhattacharya won in 2003 and 2005 but Ghosal claimed the title in 2004, thereby preventing a hat-trick by his rival. Ghosal also has made rapid strides in recent months, and has closed in on Bhattacharya by reaching the top-50 in world rankings last month.

He certainly has the momentum, having shocked the top-seeded Bhattacharya with a sensational come from behind victory at the Otters Open in Mumbai last month. Joshna Chinnappa will be another star attraction in the Rs. 2.5 lakh prize money event which has a full draw of 128. The Pathankot-born Bhattacharya said the squash scene in India has dramatically changed in recent years.

Asked about Ghosal taking lesser time than he did to reach the top-50, he said, “when I started, I had to look upto players who were in 150-200 in rankings. There was no precedent (for me). It took me 3-1/2 years to reach this stage. I had to go by trial and error method, and it was lot of hard work. So, you can’t compare. The game has really grown now. Whereas these guys can play against us and learn, we had to go abroad to play the top ranked players. Similarly, the juniors who are coming up now can look upto me and Ghosal who are the national champions. When I was a junior, there was a big gap in being number one in India and no. 1 in the world. It took about two years for me to realise that and bridge that gap.”

Bhattacharya said he was not compromising on his international commitments to play in the national championships but he was “disappointed” with the winner’s cheques of Rs. 40,000 for men and Rs. 15,000 for women on offer. I have not skipped any international tournament to come and play here. I play here because there is a lot of prestige attached to being a national champion. It is also a criteria for getting the Arjuna Award. But I am disappointed that the winner’s prize is only Rs. 40,000. It should be at least Rs. 50,000,” said Bhattacharya who is supported by JCT, AIS and Prince. Bhattacharya will next be playing in Karachi (USD 25,000, Sep 24-29), Hong Kong (USD 120,000, Oct 16-22) and Qatar (USD 120,000, Nov 27-Dec 2). On the support from the government and the Squash Rackets Federation of India, he said, “almost nothing. They are doing whatever they can do but it is not ideal


About Cyrus Poncha
I was born and lived in Bombay before moving to Chennai in 2001 to coach the Indian national squash team....what a journey its been!!

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