Saurav Ghosal became the first Indian to enter the Asian Games final, beating 2006 champion Ong Beng Hee while Dipika Pallikal secured the country its maiden women’s singles medal, a bronze, after losing the semifinal to world number one Nicol David.
Top seed and World No.16 Ghosal lived up to his billing, outplaying 35th-ranked Beng Hee of Malaysia 11-9 11-4 11-5 in 45 minutes on the glass court of Yeorumul Squash Courts.
The two players have beaten each other once on the PSA professional tour but Ghosal had lost to Beng Hee in the team semifinal of the Asian Championships in June.
Ghosal was too good for his 34-year-old Malaysian opponent, who had won gold in the 2002 Busan and 2006 Doha edition besides getting a bronze in Guangzhou four years ago.
It is certain now that the Indian will return home with a different medal colour after settling for back-to-back bronze in the last two editions.
He has already said that it is his best chance of winning a memorable gold. The final will be played tomorrow and Ghosal awaits the winner of the semifinal between Max Lee of Hong Kong and Abdullah Almezayen of Kuwait.
Earlier, World No.12 Pallikal could not better the colour of her assured bronze, losing to David in the women’s singles semifinals.
The 23-year-old Indian was outplayed 4-11 4-11 5-11 by David, who took merely 25 minutes to storm into the final. The top-seeded Malaysian came into the match as the overwhelming favourite, having won four titles in five attempts since the sport was introduced in the 1998 Bangkok Games.
And David was in top form from the word go as well, hardly giving a chance to Pallikal, who had played a draining semifinal match against compatriot Joshana Chinappa.
India had won three medals (all bronze) out of four categories at Guangzhou 2010 and this time they look good for medals in all four categories including the team championships.