HKFC International, Hong Kong (23-29 May’16)

13327376_10154248491951151_8479161327208047206_nIndia’s national champion Joshna Chinappa was on the threshold of winning her 12th professional title at the HKFC International in Hong Kong but fell at the final hurdle to the top seed Joelle King of New Zealand. All she won were encomiums from her famed rival after putting up a grand fight in the aftermath of two energy sapping five-setters in the earlier two rounds. If statistics were anything to go by then Joelle’s win (11-9, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9) was in keeping with her huge ascendancy over the Indian since they first met in the March of 2009. Joshna won then but in the seven meetings thereafter, the New Zealander had the final say. Joshna could not correct that statistics eventhough she ran four close games. However the Indian did enough to gain notice where Dipika Pallikal could not go beyond quarters. On the other hand Mahesh Mangaonkar fell in the first round to eventual title-winner Nafizwan Adnan of Malaysia 2-11, 12-14, 7-11.

Joshna and Dipika had earlier started brightly. Seeded three Joshna beat Salma Hany ibrahim (Egypt) 11-8, 11-7, 6-11, 11-8 and Dipika Karthik (seed 6) beat qualifier Low Wee Wern (Mal) 11-1, 11-1, 11-3. However in the next round, where Joelle King ousted Dipika 11-8, 11-6, 11-8, Joshna wore down experienced campaigner and seventh seed Rachel Grinham of Australia 15-13, 11-6, 6-11, 9-11, 11-4. That long fight followed another in the semi-final for Joshna against Annie Au of Hong Kong. Only a few days earlier Joshna had the measure of Annie in straight games in the Asian championship in Chinese Taipei but this time in front of the home crowd, the Hong Kong player, the second seed put up a stiff one-hour fight before losing out 8-11, 11-9, 13-11,7-11, 11-9.

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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