England Quartet Through To Commonwealth Games Quarters In Delhi
5 Oct 2010
It was a good day for England on the all-glass showcourt at the Siri Fort Complex in Delhi today (Tuesday) when four of the country's top players eased into the quarter-finals of the Commonwealth Games Squash Championships after the first session of third round action in the Indian capital.
There was heartbreak however for the exuberant crowd willing on top-ranked Indian Saurav Ghosal. The 24-year-old from Kolkata, looking for his first career win over England's Peter Barker, saved two match balls against the third seed before taking the third game.
It was nip and tuck up to four-all in the fourth before Londoner Barker, the world No8, forged ahead to win 11-5, 11-9, 11-13, 11-5 in 76 minutes.
"It was very close in the fourth - but in the end he defended really well and just ended up winning more points," India's highest-ranked player of all-time told a crowd of waiting media afterwards.
"I tried to change things in the second game and open up the court a bit. That game was crucial - winning it would have been a massive help - after winning the third I would have been 2/1 up.
"Even though the crowd was shouting for me, Pete kept his head and stayed focussed in the fourth - he was really solid - he played well rather than me playing badly," explained the world No26.
When asked if this was perhaps the most important match of his life, Ghosal admitted: "It's right up there, alongside my British Junior Open and Asian Junior Open successes.
"I never like to let go until the final point - I don't like losing.
"I want to do well in the Mixed Doubles now and hope that Dipika (Pallikal) will be recovered in time. I hope we do well so that it will make a few more people happy," Ghosal concluded.
Barker had no illusions about the toughness of the game. "He's had some good results lately - I knew it would be tough," said the 27-year-old left-hander. "His best points are his touch and his speed."
England team-mate Nick Matthew followed Barker into the last eight after a victory over Aamir Atlas Khan - but, for the second day running, it took the event favourite four games to get past his opponent.
"He's a very difficult player - I've always found him hard," said the world No2 from Sheffield after his 10-12, 11-3, 11-5, 11-5 win in 50 minutes over the tenth-seeded Pakistani. Matthew is competing in his first event after an illness forced his withdrawal from a major Tour event in England last month.
"I've lost to him before - he plays a lot of winners and it's hard to get into a rhythm - which is what you're searching for in these early games.
"Maybe I was a little too passive in the first game," admitted the 30-year-old who is bidding to win his first Games medal.
"I'm pleased to get through, though I'm not into my top stride yet. But there's a long way to go."
When asked how important the Commonwealth Games was to him, Matthew said: "It's our biggest thing. The highlight of my non-playing career was sitting at home watching Peter Nicol win his first gold medal in 1998."
"Cameron is another player I've lost to a couple of times - he's one of the hardest hitters of the ball. I'll definitely need to take it up a level to beat him," added Matthew.
Second seed Jenny Duncalf and third seed Alison Waters claimed the first two England wins on the all-glass court. Duncalf, the world No2 from Harrogate, recovered from a game down to beat English compatriot Sarah Kippax, the tenth seed, 4-11, 11-3, 11-6, 11-2, while Londoner Waters defeated Stephanie Edmison 11-3, 11-3, 11-3 in her second successive straightforward win over an unseeded Canadian.
"I don't really know what happened in the first game - I remember that the first rally was pretty long," Duncalf recalled later. "But I tried to impose myself on the match from the second game and managed to turn things round.
"I'm seeded two so I'm certainly hoping to reach my seeding," responded the 27-year-old when asked about her chances in the event. "But I'm here to win - I don't want to be second best."
On the issue of playing a team-mate, Duncalf explained: "It's unfortunate we had to play each other. All of us in the team are genuinely good friends. You'd like everyone to do well, but these things happen.
"Being in the Games is really different - it's great, I love it. There's a great team spirit - we travelled in this morning with the badminton team, and we were each interested in what the others were doing. It's a really happy feeling."
Both English players will play New Zealanders for places in the semi-finals. Duncalf takes on Jaclyn Hawkes after the seventh seed from Auckland beat Malaysia's Low Wee Wern 11-7, 11-6, 5-11, 11-4, and Waters faces Joelle King, the 12th seed from Cambridge who caused the day's first upset by defeating Australia's No8 Donna Urquhart 11-6, 9-11, 11-8, 11-4.
"We've had some tough battles over the years - but I was confident," explained the jubilant 22-year-old afterwards. "This is my first Commonwealth Games and it's just awesome. It's fantastic just taking it all in - everything is better than we expected."
On her forthcoming clash with Waters, Joelle said: "I'll have to step up my game - she's not number four in the world for nothing. But I'll take positives form my game today and give it my best shot."
For more info, visit the WSF's dedicated Commonwealth Games site www.cwgsquash.com
Men's 3rd round:
 Nick Matthew (ENG) bt  Aamir Atlas Khan (PAK) 10-12, 11-3, 11-5, 11-5 (50m)
 Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt  Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 11-6, 11-7, 11-8 (46m)
 Peter Barker (ENG) bt  Saurav Ghosal (IND) 11-5, 11-9, 11-13, 11-5 (76m)
 Stewart Boswell (AUS) bt  Farhan Mehboob (PAK) 11-9, 11-6, 11-8 (47m)
More to follow ....
Women's 3rd round:
 Joelle King (NZL) bt  Donna Urquhart (AUS) 11-6, 9-11, 11-8, 11-4 (37m)
 Alison Waters (ENG) bt Stephanie Edmison (CAN) 11-3, 11-3, 11-3 (17m)
 Jaclyn Hawkes (NZL) bt  Low Wee Wern (MAS) 11-7, 11-6, 5-11, 11-4 (62m)
 Jenny Duncalf (ENG) bt  Sarah Kippax (ENG) 4-11, 11-3, 11-6, 11-2 (43m)
More to follow ....