India’s top squash player Dipika Pallikal pulled off a major upset in the $5,000 Australian Squash Open, defeating sixth seed Camille Serme 3-1 to storm into the quarterfinals of the event here on Friday.
Pallikal, seeded 11th in the tournament, had to toil hard before scripting a come-from-behind victory against Serme at the National Convention Centre. The 20-year-old from Chennai defeated the French woman 3-11 11-9 11-9 11-6 to book her berth in the last-eight stage.
Playing against Serme, Pallikal showed great skill and grit to beat her more experienced opponent. Quick off the blocks, Serme took the first game in no time but the Indian came back strongly and clinched a closely-fought second set. Continuing her good form, Pallikal took the third set with an identical score line and dominated her opponent in the fourth set.
Speaking on her performance post the match, Pallikal said, “I walked into the Australian Open really nervous as I had spent the summer training really hard with Rithwik (Bhattacharya) in Bombay, where we had worked very hard on different aspects of my game.”
“After working so hard, you tend to put more pressure on yourself to perform, but with this win I feel more confident. Though I lost the first set, I realized that my strength is my straight game and continued to play just that,” she said.
Pallikal will face 19-year old American Amanda Sobhy, who secured her spot in the quarterfinals post a massive upset, beating World No 3 Jenny Duncalf.
Looking forward to her next match, Pallikal said, “Amanda is having a great run at the tournament and will be a tough opponent; tomorrow is going to be a tough day and I have to be at my best.”