There seems to be a connection between Asian Games and India’s no 1 player in men’s squash, Saurav Ghosal, who has been a flag-bearer for the sport in India alongside women’s players Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal Karthik.
The 32-year old will make his fourth consecutive appearance at the multi-games event tomorrow time from now in Jakarta. From being the youngest member of the side in 2006 to now being the senior-most member, surely the 12th-ranked Saurav has come a long way.
Saurav made his first Asian Games appearance back in 2006 at Doha, grabbing a bronze medal in men’s singles event. The next time, in Guangzhou 2010, he again settled for a bronze in the same category besides a bronze in the team category.
The previous games edition, Incheon 2014, saw Saurav changing the colour of the medal by grabbing a gold in the team event but settling for a silver in the singles event. He was leading 2-0 in the men’s singles final but then lost out to Abdullah Al-Muzayen of Kuwait.
— The Bridge (@TheBridge_IN) August 14, 2018
First picking a squash racket in his hand at the age of nine, Saurav moved out of his hometown in Kolkata to join the ICL Squash Academy in Chennai to hone his skills under the coaching of retired Major Maniam and Cyrus Poncha. In the time of going to the Asian Games, Saurav trained with David Palmer at Cornell University in the USA and also with his coach Malcolm Willstrop, father of former World No.1 James Willstrop, in Leeds.
Saurav’s career started off in May 2002 when he won the U-17 German Open title beating England’s Chris Simpson and after two months he won the Dutch Open. However, the big turning point came when he won the U-19 British Open title in 2004, defeating Adel El Said of Egypt in the final at Sheffield, England and also becoming the first Indian to win the coveted title.
Saurav then got his first major success at senior level when he won his first PSA World Tour title at the Otters Open in August 2006. In 2013, he became the first Indian squash player to reach the quarterfinals of the World Championship at Manchester, England where he lost to Ramy Ashour.
In 2015, Ghosal finally grabbed his hands at a PSA title when he won the Kolkata International title in September 2015 when he beat former World No.1 Marwan El Shorbagy in the final.
But what followed the highs of 2015 was followed by lows. Saurav was diagnosed with a career-threatening ankle injury after bowing out in the second round of British Open in March 2016, because of which he pulled out of Asian Championship. He strongly came back in July in time for the national championship in Mumbai and prevailed over others to win the title.
This year has been a smooth ride for Saurav. He started off by winning the Indian Open and the CCI International PSA Tour titles. In the Commonwealth Games this year, it was a mixed result for him. He shockingly crashed out in the second round of the men’s singles event and grabbed a sliver with Dipika in mixed doubles category which was marred by some controversial refereeing in the final that left both players with feelings of being robbed of a gold medal.
Saurav has been a synonymous name in a sport which has been largely considered for the affordable elite class in India. Fit and raring to go, Saurav will aim for nothing less than a gold medal in the singles category which has eluded him for long.