Saurav Ghosal has a history of losing to top ranked opponents after dominating the initial exchanges. For a while on Friday, it looked as if his first round match in the Punj Lloyd PSA Masters was going the same way.
But the 23-year-old, who had been harping on the importance of home support, registered the biggest win of his career by beating 15th seed Cameron Pilley of Australia 11-8, 11-2, 10-12, 11-8 in one hour and 17 minutes.
Ghosal looked like he would run through his more experienced opponent when he pocketed the first two games and took a 5-1 lead in the third before a flurry of unforced errors allowed the Australian to stage a comeback.
The Indian began missing his backhand drops and chips and though he managed to recover and even saved one game ball, he could not save the game.
Unlike earlier occasions, Ghosal hung on and kept pace with his lanky opponent, curbing his attacking instincts and playing a percentage game. It was Pilley who blinked, making two consecutive errors as the Indian took six points in a row to take a 9-5 lead. He missed a sitter on the first match ball but by then the match was already in his pocket.
Ghosal was happy he did not throw it away. “I had taken the lead but then either relaxed or relented under pressure,” said the world number 32, who trains in Leeds, England.
“When I allowed him to come back in the third game, my first thought was ‘Oh God, what have I done’. But I am happy I stuck it out with him and registered my biggest win on the tour so far.”
The national champion will now face four-time World Open winner and defending champion Amr Shabana of Egypt, who defeated Frenchman Mathew Castagnet 11-5, 11-9, 11-5.