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Pallikal targets medal at CWG, Asian Games

Squash player Deepika Pallikal has got off to a great start in 2014 with an appearance in the final of a Gold Band event, the Texas Open.

Written by Chinmay Brahme |
April 17, 2014 1:53:51 am

Squash player Deepika Pallikal has got off to a great start in 2014 with an appearance in the final of a Gold Band event, the Texas Open. Pallikal played a number of five setters including one against World No. 8 Madeline Perry. Not willing to rest on her laurels, Pallikal has a number of goals for the year including winning a medal at the Commonwealth and Asian Games. And while her singles’ career is going from strength to strength, Pallikal says she will be training in doubles shortly to prepare for the team events at the Asian and Commonwealth Games.

How satisfying was it to get to the final of a Gold band event? Also, was this the biggest final of your career? 

It was in many ways satisfying to reach the final of the Gold event. Firstly it was a morale booster, secondly by way of points to up my ranking it plays a big part and thirdly to play and win in front of my coach who traveled all the way from Australia to be my side brought me great satisfaction. Yes it terms of monetary benefit and the nature of the tournament this was my biggest final.

In Macau, you defeated the formidable Grinham sisters, how much have those victories helped you in approaching match-ups against higher ranked opponents?

To beat the Grinham sisters in Macau, in the same tournament and on consecutive days was like a dream come true. It helped me believe that truly nothing is impossible and though there would be up and downs, with the God given talent and a will to succeed, victory will be yours.

You beat Madeline Perry in the semis, how did you approach that match? Was there anything special you did, considering you were hardly troubled during your victory?

Beating Madeline Perry was a difficult one. At 37, she has tons of experience and she is a player that none can push aside. But with Sarah (Fitz-Gerald) my coach in my corner and the lessons she gave me before the match, just helped me up my game and exploit her weaknesses.

In the final, you took the second game, asserted yourself repeatedly but perhaps failed to find a consistent rhythym. How do you analyze your performance in the final against Nour el Sherbini?

My game and Sherbini’s game are so much alike. It was just a question of who played well on that day. I probabaly had longer hours on court, playing two five-setters the day before and I was just a wee bit mentally and physically tired. The third game was very close, and that was quite the decider. If I had pulled off that game maybe things would have been different. But that is sport, you win some you lose some,but the one who stays on top is the one with the best attitude.

Your opponent, Nour El Sherbini, is a very young player, but someone moving rapidly up the ranks. Where do you think you went wrong against her? What was a turning point in the final? Do you think El Sherbini surprised you with her energy?

Yes, Sherbini is a fast rising star with a lot of energy and exuburence.. But also, she is very injury prone and has had a major knee surgery when she was just 16. She was out with an ankle injury too a year back. Staying injury free by having a right mix of tournaments is also important in an athelete’s career.

How do you look at 2014, what are your goals with the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games coming up?

It is the year of the Commonwealth and Asian Games and to bring a medal home, would be great not only for India but for the game of squash in India. So a total push from now and training as a team for doubles, women where I team up with Joshana (Chinappa) and mixed doubles where I team with Saurav (Ghosal) would be the key.

In your interactions with your coach, Sarah Fitz-Gerald, you said that it was mostly about keeping your game simple, your angles tight. Have you been trying out any new tactics? Have you brought in any tactical/technical variations into your game?

Sarah is not only one of the greatest squash players the world has produced, being five times world champion but she is an astute tactician. She keeps training and imparting knowledge in very simple fashion but demands perfection at all times. Her game sense is so perfect and I believe that if I could be half as good as her.I could soon bring more glory for myself and for India.

When we last spoke, you mentioned that Ken May was helping you with the mental aspect of your game. Are you still working with him? You said that he helped you close out matches against higher-ranked opponents, what are some of the other things you have worked with him on?

I have not been in touch with Ken Way of late as time zones don’t match too much and find that when I need his help its either midnight or too early as he is based in UK.

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