Squash World Cup: Watanabe keen to play against Joshna

Tsukue flew into the lead with a 7-1 victory and never looked like letting it slip, taking game two 7-4 and game three 7-1. 
India's Saurav Ghosal (R) in action against South Africa’s Dewald van Niekerk during the WSF World Cup 2023, held at Express Avenue in Chennai on Wednesday. (Photo | Ashwin Prasath, EPS)
India's Saurav Ghosal (R) in action against South Africa’s Dewald van Niekerk during the WSF World Cup 2023, held at Express Avenue in Chennai on Wednesday. (Photo | Ashwin Prasath, EPS)

CHENNAI:  Japan is one of the few nations from Asia that excels in all racquet sports. Squash is no different as Japan continued to impress and progress in the tournament, as they came from behind to beat Hong Kong 3-1 in the Squash World Cup being played at the all-glass court in Chennai's Express Avenue Mall on Wednesday.

In the opening match, Toby Tse got the better of Akari Midorikawa to give Hong Kong the lead. The match was anticipated to be a close one with the pair sharing a 1-1 head-to-head record after playing twice in the same month last year. Tse made the brighter start to the match and looked confident as she took the first game 7-5, only for Midorikawa to hit back with a 7-3 win. From here, the play became a see-saw battle, which Tse dealt better with as she notched up a pair of 7-4 wins to give her side the lead. In the second match, Ryunsuke Tsukue of Japan quickly wiped out Hong Kong's lead with Japanese No 1 wasting no time in going after Andes Ling. Tsukue flew into the lead with a 7-1 victory and never looked like letting it slip, taking game two 7-4 and game three 7-1. 

In the third game, Satomi Watanabe initially looked to be cruising past Heylie Fung, with the powerful World No.18 blasting into a 2-0 lead with comfortable 7-2, 7-1 wins. Fung of Hong Kong was in her element in the third game and hit her targets better, which was rewarded with a 7-5 win for the 20-year-old before an improved Watanabe closed things out in the fourth with a 7-2 victory. In the final match, Tomotaka Endo played much better than what he did on Tuesday and romped home with a 3-0 victory over Chung Yat Long.

Japan will face hosts and No 2 seed India on Thursday in the final tie of the pool stage.

“I think I started well and got my pace and my rhythm and then in the third game she changed things a little bit and at the same time, I lost my concentration in the middle of the game, which wasn’t great for me. But then in the fourth, I regrouped and got my concentration and to finish it 7-2 gives me a little bit of confidence,” said Watanabe after the win, adding, “I really love this atmosphere and the huge shopping mall with this glass court. I was just having fun.”  

On playing against Joshna Chinappa (her opponent on Thursday), Watanabe said, “I haven’t actually shared a court with her yet so I’m really looking forward to playing against Joshna, but all I can do is give my best and enjoy the match,” added Watanabe.

India blank SA

Although the scoreboard may show that India defeated South Africa 4-0, it was a hard-fought win for the team. Saurav Ghosal beat Dewald van Niekerk 7-6, 7-4, 7-1, rest of the players Joshna Chinappa, Abhay Singh, Tanvi Khanna were stretched and won their respective matches 3-1.

Results:
Pool A: Egypt beat Colombia 4-0; Malaysia beat Australia 3-1
Pool B: Japan beat Hong Kong 3-1; India beat South Africa 4-0

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The New Indian Express
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