Abhishek Pradhan knocks out top seed Abhay Singh

Akshaya continues her dream run; Sunayna Kuruvilla marches on; Harinderpal injured

Playing in his first tournament since COVID-19 struck the country, Abhishek Pradhan made short work of top-seeded Abhay Singh 11-8, 11-6, 11-6 in just 24 minutes to progress to the semifinals of the HCL-SRFI Indian Tour squash tournament, a PSA Challenger Tour-10 event, at the ISA courts here on Tuesday.

However, it was smooth sailing for the top seed in the women’s section with Sunayna Kuruvilla overcoming Urwashi Joshi, the fifth seed, 17-15, 11-6, 11-3 in the quarterfinals.

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Harinderpal Singh Sandhu, the second seed, conceded complaining of groin pain, while trailing 4-9 in the first game against S. Velavan, in the men’s quarterfinals.

Abhishek, seeded sixth, was solid from the backcourt, seldom making any unforced errors. Though he didn’t come up with many drop shots, his double boasts fetched him quite a few points, especially in the third game. Abhay was not the player one knows about. He was subdued for the most part, lacking in intensity and fighting spirit.

“I was expecting a tougher battle, and in fact, the last time we met at the Maharashtra Open State closed Satellite tournament in 2018, I beat him in five games,” said Abhishek, who was found COVID-19 positive when he came to play in the PSA Challenger tournament here in March-April this year.

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Akshaya Sri continued her dream run, with an authoritative 11-9, 11-8, 11-2 win over Sachika Balvani, the third seed.

The results (quarterfinals): Men: S. Velavan bt Harinderpal Singh Sandhu 9-4 (concd.); Abhishek Agarwal bt Kanhav Nanavati 11-7, 11-5, 11-5; Rahul Baitha bt Aadit Zaveri 11-7, 11-6, 11-1; Abhishek Pradhan bt Abhay Singh 11-8, 11-6, 11-6.

Women: Sunayna Kuruvilla bt Urwashi Joshi 17-15, 11-6, 11-13, 11-5; Akshaya Sri bt Sachika Balvani 11-9, 11-8, 11-2; Aparajitha Balamurukan bt Abhisheka Shannon 13-11, 11-7, 11-7; Tanvi Khanna bt Janet Vidhi 11-4, 11-4, 11-6.

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