India’s Dipika Pallikal (right) goes for a shot in her Penang-CIMB Women’s World Squash Championship second-round match against England’s Lisa Aitken. Dipika won 11-2, 11-6, 11-5.
GEORGE TOWN: This year is expected to be tiring but significant for India’s Dipika Pallikal.
The 22-year-old, who became the first Indian woman squash player to break into the world top 10, booked her place in the last 16 of the Penang-CIMB Women’s World Squash Championship on Wednesday with a 11-2, 11-6, 11-5 win over England’s Lisa Aitken.
Dipika, the 10th seed in Penang, has set a long list of targets for the year.
“As a player from an Asian country, I have a busy and tiring schedule this year. Besides two world championships and other individual events, I also have the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, World Team and Asian Team tournaments to look forward to,” said Dipika.
“There are many competitions, but I am not complaining because I love representing India and it is a different feeling when I am playing for my country in the team events.”
She is also confident of India breaking Malaysia and Hong Kong’s stranglehold in the women’s team events in Asia.
“With Joshna (Chinappa, the world No. 19) and myself both in the top 20 bracket, we have a fair chance on a given day of taking on and beating Malaysia and Hong Kong.
“Unlike in the past when you already knew which country would win before the tournament, it is good for Asian squash to have more competitive countries in the fray.”
Dipika and Joshna led India to fifth position, the country’s highest-ever finish, during the 2012 World Team Championship in France.
On a personal front, Dipika is targeting a swift return to the top 10 rankings after two brief stints at No. 10 in late 2012 and last month. She is currently 11th in the world.
Dipika, who has seven WSA Tour titles under her belt, will next take on third seed Raneem El Weleily in the last 16 on Thursday.
“Raneem and I have bumped into each other in the second round a lot in the past six months. The world championship is the highest platform for a squash player and both of us want to win here.
“Hopefully, I can continue playing some of my best squash to create an upset over her.”
Dipika created a storm in India earlier this year when she refused to participate in her country’s national championship unless there was equal prize money for the men and women winners. She got her way when the organisers relented to her demand.
“It was just one comment I made to an Indian reporter about the disparity in prize money, and the issue got blown out of proportion. In the end, I guess it was for the good of the game because the organisers eventually gave out equal prize money.
“I have good friends among the (Indian) men players. I demanded equality not because of hatred, but because the women trained and played equally hard as the men and deserve the same rewards.”