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Dipika Pallikal leaves painful past behind, awaits CWG debut

New Delhi: Dipika Pallikal had long back taken the chill pill for the fever that forced her out of the the home Commonwealth Games and fours years on, India's top squash player is looking ahead to the Games in Glasgow, where she is aiming for medals in all three categories.

Pallikal, the first Indian to break into the world top-10, feels she has a shot at a medal in all events -- singles, doubles and mixed doubles -- despite stiff competition from Australia, England, New Zealand and Malaysia.

Dipika Pallikal
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"It is hard to believe that it will be my first Commonwealth Games. Though I have a long way to go, it already feels that I have been on the road forever," 22-year-old Pallikal told PTI ahead of her departure to Glasgow today. Delhi was catastrophic for Pallikal, who pulled out of the home event, having failed to recover from a bout of fever. She finds it "surreal" to be making her CWG debut eight years after turning pro.

"It was painful to be at the Games Village and not going on to compete. Hopefully, things will fall in place this time and I am able to help India win its first ever medal in the Games. "I think I have a chance in all three events but I don't think about how far I can go and put pressure on myself. In singles, I will have to beat at least four good players to win a medal," said the Chennai-born player.

The World No.10, who is seeded sixth at CWG, will have to pull something special out of the bag for a singles podium finish in the presence of Malaysian World No.1 Nicol David, her seventh-ranked compatriot Low Wee Wern, England's reigning world champion Laura Massaro, her teammate Alison Waters and fourth-ranked Joelle King from New Zealand.

The medal chances are brighter in the women's doubles alongside Joshana Chinappa and in the mixed category with Saurav Ghosal. The victories with Chinappa and Ghosal at last month's tri-nation tournament in Malaysia has only added to Pallikal's confidence.

"I think we have a good chance in doubles. All of us have been practising together for the past few weeks and it has gone on well. It is a very special feeling to represent India and we don't get to do that often on a platform like the Commonwealth Games. The whole squad is fully motivated to give their best," said Pallikal. The year so far has been mixed bag for her with the highlight being the final appearance at the WSA Texas Open in April.

"My performance could have surely been better. It is tough being in the top-10 and I need to stay confident and keep doing what I am doing to climb up the ladder," said the player coached by five-time world champion Sarah Fitz-Gerald. She opens her singles campaign against the winner of the qualifier between Charlotte Knaggs of Trinidad and Tobago, and Sri Lankan Naduni Gunawardane.

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