Monday, September 25, 2023

Dipika sets her sights high…’I want to be world No.1′

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After her biggest win on the WSA World Tour in Macau last month, where she beat Australia’s former world No. 1 Rachael Grinham in the final,Dipika Pallikal is now targeting tougher events and bigger scalps thanks to the new confidence and maturity in her game.

“That week was exciting as I went there after a good event in America. I knew I had a chance,” Dipika, who had beaten No. 11 Australian Kasey Brown in the Carol Weymuller Open Gold 50 event in New York last month, told the Times of India on Thursday. “Then, beating Natalie Grinham in the Macau semis gave me extra confidence as I have always looked up to her. I surprised myself playing good squash that week and I felt all my summer training fell into place,” said Dipika, after a promotional event here.

The 22-year-old Chennai lass, who has won seven Tour titles, said she planned to participate in bigger tournaments to reach her goal of being world No. 1.

“My plan for next year was to start with smaller tournaments. But having won a $25,000 event, my aim is to stay in the same bracket before moving to $50,000 and World Series events. A lot, including my training regime, changed. My coach Sarah Fitz-Gerald said, ‘my squash has become more mature’ and I hope it’s the beginning of a lot of good things.”

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The striking squash star said sessions with sports psychologist Ken Way helped iron out a few issues which had prevented her from reaching her full potential. “I started with Ken because I was getting close to all the top people but was unable to beat them. There were instances when I lost 9-11 in the final game. Sarah felt I needed a sports psychologist to talk to in between tournaments. I began working with Ken before the British Open. He too played a big role in making me a mature sportsperson.”

Dipika, currently ranked No. 12 jumping five places last month, said she hoped to break into the top-10 before the end of the year. “We have an event in Hong Kong in December and if I do well I can make the top-10. My prime focus has been to win without thinking about rankings. However, I do want to climb to be world No. 1 someday.”

Dipika, who shuttles between her hometown of Chennai and training centre in Melbourne, said she worked for three months this summer to reach peak fitness and the results were paying off. “It was a little squash and running every morning and gymming every alternate day. The self-belief I got from knowing I can stay on court for over two hours helped me mature as a player.”

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