New Delhi: India has never won a medal in squash at the Commonwealth Games, and despite the rise of players such as Saurav Ghosal, Joshna Chinappa and Deepika Pallikal, the Delhi Games may not change that statistic. And that’s because some of the world’s top players will be competing at the Games—England has four top 10 players in their men’s team, while six of the world’s top 10 women will be in action too. India’s best hopes lie with the doubles team of Chinappa and Pallikal, who have recently performed well against higher ranked opponents.
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Squash is among the most recent additions to the Commonwealth Games’ repertoire of disciplines and was introduced only in 1998. The game, like most racquet sports, follows the singles and doubles format, and is open to both men and women. Though similar in spirit to most racquet and ball games, which reward nimble-footedness over speed, it doesn’t command the television ratings of tennis or badminton. As far as the Commonwealth Games go, Australia and England are the stars of the sport with 22 and 19 medals, respectively.
WATCH OUT FOR
Nick Matthew, England
The 30-year-old became the first world No. 1 men’s squash player from England in the last six years in June after winning the Super Series event in Egypt. In his first competition as the top-ranked player, he won the Australian Open, the first British player to do so in 30 years. It was also his fifth straight Professional Squash Association (PSA) tour win, and his eighth appearance in the final out of the nine PSA events he played in 2010. It’s this kind of consistent domination that makes Matthew one of the world’s best squash players at the moment, though he has slipped to No. 2 in the world rankings heading into the Commonwealth Games.
Nicol David, Malaysia
The 27-year-old Malaysian, who has won the World Open four times, is currently the world’s No. 1 women’s squash player, and the first Asian woman to reach that spot.
Jenny Duncalf, England
The 28-year-old English champion was born in the Netherlands. Ranked No. 2 in the world, she won the British National Championship in 2007 and 2009.
Saurav Ghosal, India
Among India’s brightest hopes at the Commonwealth Games, the 25-year-old Harvard graduate is the highest ranked Indian player in the world (26). He won the bronze medal at the 2006 Asian Games.
Kasey Brown, Australia
The 25-year-old Australian won the Australian Open title in 2006, and is currently ranked No. 8 in the world.