Dipika Pallikal loses in TOC final

New Delhi: Dipika Pallikal, who was playing her ninth match in 10 days, lost to Natalie Grinham in the final of Tournament of Champions squash event in New York on Thursday.

The top-ranked Indian lost in straight games to the 33-year-old World No. 8. In the match, which lasted for just 25 minutes, the squash mom Natalie Grinham beat Dipika Pallikal 11-4,11-3,11-3 and showed her class in terms of court coverage and strength.

The 33-year-old, who has played under the Dutch flag since marrying fellow squash player Tommy Berden, kept her 20-year-old opponent off guard and off balance and the match victory for Grinham was never in doubt.

“Dipika is quite handy with the racquet and she volleys quite well, so I made sure not to put the ball where she could easily reach it,” said Grinham, who was relentless in picking up every offensive effort that Pallikal threw at her. The former world #2 also used length and width to keep her opponent out of the middle of court. Grinham’s crosscourt drop from the front left wall proved especially effective.

“I just didn’t have any strength left in my legs,” said Dipika.

Meanwhile, Top seed and current world #2 Nick Matthew won his first J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions title defeating his long- time rival James WiIlstrop, current world #1 and the second seed, 8-11,11-9,11-5,11-7, before a jam packed crowd that was glued to their seats in Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Terminal for the entire 85 minutes of match play.

It was an especially jubilant victory for the 30-year-old Englishman who was in his fourth Tournament of Champions final and playing his first tournament after two months off the tour to recover from an injury. “This win is right alongside the Worlds and Commonwealth Games gold medals as my best victories,” said the tired Yorkshireman after the match.

Besides the trophy, Matthew also won back the world #1 ranking which he had held for all of 2011, but slipped from his grasp when he had to take the injury hiatus from the tour.

Men’s Final Results [1] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt. [2] James Willstrop (ENG) 8-11, 11-9, 1-5, 11-7 85 mins 
Women’s Final Results [2] Natalie Grinham (NED) bt. [7] Dipika Pallikal (IND) 11-4,11-3,11-3 25 mins.