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Rediff.com  » Sports » Macau Open win a stepping stone to World No 1, says Dipika Pallikal

Macau Open win a stepping stone to World No 1, says Dipika Pallikal

Last updated on: October 22, 2013 16:45 IST

Macau Open win a stepping stone to World No 1, says Dipika Pallikal

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Talk about Indian squash, and Dipika Pallikal is the first name that springs to mind.

The 22-year-old is in prime form this year. She beat former World No 1 Rachael Grinham of Australia to win the Macau Open on Sunday

Describing the title triumph at Macau Open -- the Women's Squash Association (WSA) silver band event -- as the "biggest win" of her career, Pallikal said it's a stepping stone in her quest to be World No 1.

"Yes for sure (the biggest win of my career). This is my first silver tournament win. So it does feel great. My aim is to get to world No. 1 and this is just a route to No. 1," she added.


Image: Dipika Pallikal


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The Chennai lass, who was conferred the Arjuna award, India's second highest sports accolade in 2012, said: "I played some really good squash the entire week to win the tournament. My wins in the semis and finals were important. And when I got through to the finals, I knew I had an opportunity to win it and did not want to let it go."

Pallikal got the better of Rachel 12-10, 5-11, 11-7, 11-9 in a hard-fought summit clash that lasted 42 minutes, while in the semi-final she overcame a 2-1 deficit to stave off a stiff challenge from top seed Natalie and win 11-9, 8-11, 8-11, 11-4, 11-9 in a marathon 68-minute encounter.

The 22-year-old credited her success to sports psychologist Ken May and said the improvement in her game has come as a result of self confidence and mental toughness.


Photographs: Courtesy: Dipika Pallikal/Twitter

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Macau Open win a stepping stone to World No 1, says Dipika Pallikal

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Rediff Sports Desk

"Ken May is an incredible guy. He trained Sarah (Fitz-Gerald) and now he's working with me. There was a lot of stuff we have to erase or go back in time to remove it. It's about making me a new person on court and it's slowly helping. He's an absolute phenomenal guy and I'm so happy that I have him on my team," she said.

The changes Pallikal recently brought to her game were on full display during her famous wins over the Grinham sisters. She did not hit winners too early and waited patiently for her chances to come.

She resorted to playing longer rallies, constructing points and picking her moments to go into the offensive -- a shift from her earlier performances on the circuit.


Photographs: Courtesy: Dipika Pallikal/Twitter

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Macau Open win a stepping stone to World No 1, says Dipika Pallikal

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Rediff Sports Desk

The world No 17 has five-time world champion Australian Sarah Fitz-Gerald to guide her towards the pinnacle of women's squash.

Ever since Sarah started coaching Pallikal in Melbourne, her whole game has taken a turn for the best.

"Sarah has always been the biggest influence I've ever had. We have worked on a lot of things and still working on them to keep improving. I think the thing which really helps is that she's been on the circuit herself and knows how everything works, so she shares all her experiences with me which helps a lot," she said.

With seven World squash tour titles, five tour finals, a career-best world ranking of 10, achieved late last year, what does she wants next?

"My next target is to get back into the top 10 and then move further up in the rankings," she replied.


Photographs: Courtesy: Dipika Pallikal/Twitter

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