CHENNAI: Egypt’s Karim Ali Fathi and Harinder Pal Sandhu of India will lock horns in the final of the JSW-PSA Challenger men’s squashtournament. In the WSA women’s section, India’s Dipika Pallikal will meet Misaki Kobayashi of Japan in the summit clash.
On Tuesday, Fathi quelled Ravi Dixit’s valiant challenge to beat him 11-7, 11-6, 15-13 in an hour-long semifinal tussle. Fathi, although made to earn his points, wasn’t seriously threatened until the commencement of the third game.
The 21-year-old was sitting on a two-game advantage at that point. Dixit approached the game with intent, establishing a rhythm that contrasted the top seed’s.
The Indian’s soft touches nullified Fathi’s brutal hitting and he went on to take an 8-5 lead.
Dixit employed the nick shot and the drop to telling effect on more than one occasion. Fathi was even seen applauding Dixit’s deft drop shot.
The man from Cairo, however, pushed his opponent into playing longer points, and battled his way back into the game.
Holding his nerve
Soon after, Fathi secured the lead, but failed to close out the match. Dixit, too, found finishing the game elusive, and elongated rallies ensued.
Both players favoured the backhand and played out volleys, waiting for the opponent to blink.
Ultimately, it was Fathi who held his nerve.
In the other men’s last-four encounter, second-seeded Sandhu made light work of Hossam Nasser. Sandhu produced a polished, dominant display that rendered the contest one-sided right from the outset.
The 25-year-old troubled the Egyptian with some forceful shots. Sandhu required no more than 27 minutes to put the contest to bed.
Later in the evening, top seed Dipika fended off some spirited opposition from Siyoli Waters in the women’s semifinal. While she had a relatively easy first game, Waters stretched the Indian star in the next couple of games, even winning the second.
But, Dipika remained unflustered and eventually prevailed.
Earlier, Kobayashi posted a fairly straight-forward win over Birgit Coufal of Austria in the other semifinal.
The results (semifinals): Men: Karim Ali Fathi (Egy) bt Ravi Dixit 11-7, 11-6, 15-13; Harinder Pal Sandhu bt Hossam Nasser (Egy) 11-7, 11-4, 11-4.
Women: Misaki Kobayashi (Jpn) bt Birgit Coufal (Aut) 11-6, 11-4, 11-5; Dipika Pallikal bt Siyoli Waters (RSA) 11-4, 10-12, 11-8, 11-5.