CHENNAI: By Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu’s own admission, the last year and-a-half have not been good, plagued by injuries. But 2017 has brought with it fresh hopes. And perhaps, a fresh start. The Chandigarh player’s triumph at the $5,000 Malaysian Tour PSA event last week has been vindication for all his hard work.
“I’ve been unlucky with injuries over the last 18 months, and it’s been difficult. I played just a couple of events, and it was frustrating to be on the sidelines, and also watch my world rankings fall outside the top 100. But this year has been good so far, and I’m ecstatic that I could finally clinch a title in Malaysia,” Harinder told Express.
The title in Kuala Lumpur was the sixth of his career, and couldn’t have come at a better time. For after recovering from a Grade I tear in his back disc, in previous four events this year, Harinder had made it to quarterfinals thrice, including the Asian Squash Championship in Chennai last month. “This win has been a confidence-booster. Losing in the quarterfinals or semifinals was starting to annoy a bit, so it was good to make the final and also clinch a win. Hopefully, it’s a sign of better things for me,” he noted.
Incidentally, en route his title win, Harinder beat good friend Ravi Dixit, who made news last year for a Facebook post that garnered a lot of attention. The two used to practise together at the Indian Squash Academy in Chennai. “Yes, it was a good battle, facing Ravi in Malaysia. We’ve remained friends despite him leaving the ISA, and when we play events together, we spend lots of time with each other. We share rooms, go out for food and travel together. I don’t know what exactly went on during that time he was in the news, as I wasn’t in the country, but we do keep in touch,” said the 28-year-old.
Harinder is in the Philippines preparing for the Nissan Open to be held from May 18 to 21, qualifiers for which got underway on Tuesday. Ranked No 89 in the world, he is targetting a leap into the top 50 by year-end. “After this event, I’ll go back home and work on strength and conditioning on my back, as I haven’t been able to do it as much as I would’ve liked. After that, it’s all about making sure to perform to the levels I’m capable of and break into the top 50 in the world rankings,” he concluded.