Playing her final tournament of the year, India's top-ranked female squash player Dipika Pallikal succumbed to third seed Kasey Brown in the quarterfinals of the PSA Squash Masters on Friday. Pallikal tried everything in her repertoire to resist the Australian's power shots but eventually went down 5-11, 5-11, 11-7, 11-7, 5-11 in a closely-fought match that lasted for close to an hour.
On the Centre Court at the Siri Fort Sports Complex, Pallikal chased and picked up balls relentlessly through four games before giving up in the final, having clawed her way back after losing the first two games.
After making a comeback to leave the crowd cheering and clapping, Pallikal lost steam, 0-7 down in the final game in just 10 minutes. "I blacked out in the final game," she conceded. Pallikal said she took time to get used to the glass court. "I was playing my first match and so the switch from a normal court took some time."
The Chennai girl will be aiming to break into the top 20 in the WISPA rankings in 2011. "I'm only 19 but I do not want to wait for a few more years to get to the top," Pallikal said. The world no. 29 feels she needs to be fitter and more focused to reach the top.
Pallikal said winning two WISPA titles on her first year on the senior circuit, along with the Asian Junior U-19 Championship, were some highs of the season. "Those, and breaking into the top 30 as well," she said.
World no. 7 Brown praised the Indian.
"She's improved tremendously since the last time I played her. At this rate, she'll soon break into the ranks of the top players." The Australian will stay back after the event to visit the Red Fort and the Taj Mahal.
"During the Commonwealth Games in October, it wasn't possible to travel around a lot due to the security. This time, I'm planning to soak up a bit of a culture before I leave," said the golden-haired athlete.