India’s Dipika Pallikal recorded a straight sets win over American Amanda Sobhy at the Australian Squash Open to become the first Indian to enter the semi-finals of a Gold Series event.
Following her win over sixth seeded Frenchwoman Camille Serme, Dipika played brilliantly in her quarter-final against Amanda, who had earlier caused an upset beating World No 3 Jenny Duncalf in the pre-quarters here at the National Convention Centre.
The Indian, in her third appearance here, stamped her authority over the 19-year-old Amanda with a 11-5, 11-7, 12-10 win. “Yesterday, I started slow. But today I paid special attention to warming up well before the match. I started well and in the first two sets, was 6-0 and 6-1 up against Amanda,” said Dipika after her victory.
“I knew that she played very well in the front area, so I stuck to my game plan and pinned her to the back corners.”
Proud of her protege, squash legend Sarah Fitzgerald said: “Dipika’s win today is important for her confidence and belief that she can go one step further. She played aggressive and smart squash today and did not let her opponent get into the match.”
Dipika reached her career-best ranking of World No 14 in February under the training Fitzgerald, which made her the highest ranked Indian squash player ever.
“Three years ago, I entered Australian Open as a qualifier and made it to the main draws and last year I lost in the first round. So coming here this year as the 11th seed and entering the semifinals feels very special,” said the 20-year-old.
Dipika will next face World No 4 Laura Massaro from England for a place in the final.
“It is going to be a good match tomorrow. Last time I played against Laura it was a very close match and I lost three sets to two, but it is a new day tomorrow. She is the World No 4 and a very experienced player, so it will be a tough match and I am looking forward to it.”