PSA Challenger 5 Imet Open, Bratislava, Slovakia (11-15 Dec’13)

Five-game victories over the event’s top two seeds led to Mahesh Mangaonkar becoming the first Indian winner of the PSA IMET Open, the PSA World Tour Challenger 5 squash event marking its sixth year at the Imet Squash Centrum in the Slovakia capital Bratislava.

The 19-year-old World No.98 from Mumbai made his breakthrough in the semi-finals where he downed two-time champion Jan Koukal, the top seed from the Czech Republic expected to make his fourth final appearance in six years, 13-11, 11-8, 9-11, 7-11, 13-11 in 98 minutes.

Third seed Mangaonkar then lined up against defending champion Greg Lobban, the No.2 seed from Scotland who was celebrating his third successive appearance in a Tour final. 

Despite his heroics less than 24 hours earlier, the Indian teenager was still able to call upon reserves to recover from losing the first game to take a 2/1 lead.

Edinburgh-based Lobban, ranked 82 in the world, dug deep to take the fourth to force a fifth game decider. 

But Mangaonkar refused to give up, reclaiming the advantage to close out the match 7-11, 11-8, 11-4, 6-11, 11-7 after 77 minutes to take the title.

“The turning point of this final was in the second set, where I started to move properly on the court,” said the jubilant champion after the second Tour title triumph of his career.

“I was happy to win the third, rested a bit in fourth and fought back in fifth. Squash is also a mental game and I gave it all I had in the final set.”

RESULTS: PSA Challenger 5 Imet Open, Bratislava, Slovakia

1st round:
[3] Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) bt Tristan Eysele (ENG) 11-4, 11-2, 11-3 (23m)

2nd round:
[3] Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) bt Jonas Daehler (SUI) 7-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-3, 11-6 (66m)

Quarter-finals:

[3] Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) bt Christophe Andre (FRA) 11-3, 11-4, 13-11 (40m)

Semi-finals:
[3] Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) bt [1] Jan Koukal (CZE) 13-11, 11-8, 9-11, 7-11, 13-11 (98m)
[2] Greg Lobban (SCO) bt [4] Reiko Peter (SUI) 11-6, 11-7, 5-11, 11-4 (57m)

Final:
[3] Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) bt [2] Greg Lobban (SCO) 7-11, 11-8, 11-4, 6-11, 11-7 (77m)

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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