Dipika Pallikal wins marathon battle with Jenny Duncalf to set up semi-final clash with Joshna Chinappa
By HOWARD HARDING – Squash Mad Correspondent
Indian squash hierarchy will be put to the test in the semi-finals of the Women’s Granite Open in Canada when the country’s top two players Dipika Pallikal and Joshana Chinappa meet for a place in the final of the WSA International 25 event marking its fourth year at the Granite Club in Toronto.
Seventh seed Chinappa produced the unexpected clash after upsetting second-seeded Australian Rachael Grinham 11-1, 11-8, 11-6 in 23 minutes.
The former world number one and world champion from Queensland was taken to five games in the opening round – just hours after landing in Toronto after a flight from Australia – and was clearly now feeling the effects.
“Playing Rachael is always hard,” said Chinappa, the world No.21 from Chennai. “I felt that she didn’t play her usual game today. I am quite glad to have won in three.”
Chinappa (pictured above being advised between games by South African number one Siyoli Waters) will now do battle with compatriot Pallikal – with whom she made history last year by winning India’s first squash gold medal in the Commonwealth Games with a sensational and unexpected triumph in the Women’s Doubles in Scotland.
The third seed, also from Chennai, was fully extended by England’s experienced Jenny Duncalf before beating the No.5 seed 11-8, 9-11, 11-6, 7-11, 13-11 in 75 minutes.
“Really happy to win,” said a delighted 23-year-old Pallikal later. “Jen played really well today. I knew I had to stick in there and play the rallies out.
“When I was match ball down, I told myself to play the rallies out and stay in there for as long as it takes. And that really helped. Happy to win!”
There will be English interest in the other semi-final where newly-crowned British National champion Sarah-Jane Perry takes on top seed Amanda Sobhy.
Perry, the fourth seed from Kenilworth, was taken to four games by Line Hansen before overcoming the unseeded Dane 11-5, 12-10, 9-11, 11-5.
“I started well but as the match went on Line found more and more shots,” explained 24-year-old Perry. “She was slotting anything I left loose!
“After she took the third, I knew I had to get back in front and try and control the pace. Thankfully it worked and I’m really pleased to be through to the semis.”
Sobhy, the 21-year-old world No.10 from the USA who has taken time off from her final year studies at Harvard University to defend her Granite title, beat Malaysia’s Delia Arnold 11-6, 11-3, 11-8.
“Happy to win in three today against Delia,” said Sobhy. “She’s a strong player and put the ball away if I gave her anything loose in the middle.
“Now I play SJ tomorrow. We have never played before so it should be a good match.”
Women’s Granite Open, Toronto, Canada
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) v  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)
 Joshana Chinappa (IND) v  Dipika Pallikal (IND)
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt Delia Arnold (MAS) 11-6, 11-3, 11-8 (25m)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt Line Hansen (DEN) 11-5, 12-10, 9-11, 11-5 (45m)
 Dipika Pallikal (IND) bt  Jenny Duncalf (ENG) 11-8, 9-11, 11-6, 7-11, 13-11 (75m)
 Joshana Chinappa (IND) bt  Rachael Grinham (AUS) 11-1, 11-8, 11-6 (23m)
Seeds take a tumble in Toronto
While defending champion and favourite Amanda Sobhy quickly progressed to the quarter-finals of the Women’s Granite Open in Canada, seeds Nicolette Fernandes and Joey Chan both crashed out of the first round of the WSA International 25 squash event marking its fourth year at the Granite Club in Toronto.
Sixth seed Fernandes, the world No.20 from Guyana, took the opening two games against Malaysian Delia Arnold. But the Kuala Lumpur-born world No.28 soon recovered the advantage, closing out the next three games to score an impressive 10-12, 9-11, 11-4, 11-7, 12-10 upset.
Arnold’s reward is a clash with world No.10 Sobhy, the 21-year-old from the USA who took time out from her studies at Harvard University to defend her Toronto title. Sobhy despatched New Zealand qualifier Amanda Landers-Murphy 12-10, 11-1, 11-2 in just 22 minutes.
“Happy to be back at the Granite Open,” said the young New Yorker. “When I saw it on the calendar, I knew I was going to miss that week of school because there was no way I was going to miss this event!”
It was Danish number one Line Hansen who caused the other upset, seeing off Joey Chan, the No.8 seed from Hong Kong, 11-9, 11-6, 4-11, 11-8.
Hansen, the world No.27 from Odense, will now face fourth seed Sarah-Jane Perry, the world No.16 from England competing in her first Tour event since winning the British National title last week against expectations.
“Joey has really good hands so I tried to give her as little time as possible,” said Hansen after her shock win. “I think it worked in big parts of the match. Really happy with the win and looking forward to playing the British Champion tomorrow, aka SJ!! By the way LOVE this event!!”
Perry was made to work hard to earn her place in the last eight, needing 55 minutes to beat Welsh qualifier Deon Saffery 11-13, 11-7, 11-6, 12-10.
“That was tough,” said 24-year-old Perry. “Deon was really up for it and played some great squash and made it very difficult for me.
“I love it here at Granite, so I am glad to be back but also looking forward to some rest before tomorrow’s match.”
Hopes of home success on day one looked strong when Canadian qualifier Samantha Cornett opened up a two-game lead over second seed Rachael Grinham.
But the experienced Australian, a former world number one and world champion, dug deep to claim a 9-11, 11-13, 13-11, 11-6, 11-6 victory in 55 minutes.
“I’m obviously happy to get through,” said Grinham, the world No.12 from Queensland who stepped off the plane from Australia only hours before the match! “Sam really played well in the first two. I just hung in there and got the third and then mentally the match swung my way.”
Grinham will now line up against seventh seed Joshana Chinappa, the Indian number two who joins Indian number one Dipika Pallikal in the quarter-finals.
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt [Q] Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL) 12-10, 11-1, 11-2 (22m)
Delia Arnold (MAS) bt  Nicolette Fernandes (GUY) 10-12, 9-11, 11-4, 11-7, 12-10
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt [Q] Deon Saffery (WAL) 11-13, 11-7, 11-6, 12-10 (55m)
Line Hansen (DEN) bt  Joey Chan (HKG) 11-9, 11-6, 4-11, 11-8
 Jenny Duncalf (ENG) bt [Q] Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) 7-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-7 (44m)
 Dipika Pallikal (IND) bt Tesni Evans (WAL) 8-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-7 (60m)
 Joshana Chinappa (IND) bt [WC] Nikki Todd (CAN) 11-8, 11-8, 11-6 (29m)
 Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt [Q] Samantha Cornett (CAN) 9-11, 11-13, 13-11, 11-6, 11-6 (55m)
Pictures courtesy of WSA