Saurav Confident of Winning India's First Medal in Squash

By Bharat Sharma

New Delhi, Sep 24 (IANS) Unfazed by the controversies surrounding the Commonwealth Games, squash star Saurav Ghoshal is confident of winning India's first ever medal in the sport.

Saurav's recent good showing at the British Open has lifted his morale and he sees himself amongst the medal winners during the Oct 3-14 Games.

"I lost to world No.12 David Palmer of Australia in the quarterfinals in England. It was a closely fought match and it gave me the self-belief that I can pull off wins against the best in the business. I will take that performance in my stride and it will help me in the Games," Saurav told IANS.

The World No.26 has been training hard and says the coaching stint in England has done wonders for his game.

"I am training as hard as I can. For most part of the year, I am practising in Leeds. Staying for that long there means regularly playing with top European players. And since all the major squash playing nations are part of the Commonwealth, the overseas experience will come in handy in Delhi," Saurav said.

The favourites to win medals in the singles category will be the players from England and Australia.

The star attractions in the event will be the English trio of Nick Matthew, James Willstrop and Peter Barker, ranked two, six and seven in the world.

The Australians, with the likes of David Palmer and Cameron Pilley in their ranks, are likely to make the road tougher for the Englishmen.

Saurav is aware of the competition he faces in Delhi and that is why he is banking more on the mixed doubles event for a podium finish.

The Kolkata lad has teamed up with women's world no. 33 Dipika Pallikal in the mixed doubles and are seeded fourth.

"I am realistic when I way that I have more chances of winning a medal in mixed doubles rather than the singles event. Dipika and I have played well in the recent times and are good friends off the court," he said.

Saurav have decided to give the men's doubles event a miss.

"I want to give my best shot in singles and mixed doubles. The scheduling of the matches is such that I could not see myself competing in three events."

Saurav is likely to meet third seed Barker of England in the pre-quarterfinals of the singles event.

"It is a tough draw but I have been playing well recently. I am physically fitter than what I was six months ago. I will try to cause an upset."

Saurav said the home crowd support will be a motivating factor in all his matches.

Squash has 15 medals at stake, featuring singles (men and women), doubles (men and women) and mixed doubles.

The event is scheduled from Oct 4-13 at the Siri Fort Sports Complex.



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