India stuns France, reach semis in World Junior Squash

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Chennai, Aug 6 (UNI) Fifth seed India stunned favourites France 2-1 to enter the semi-finals of the World Junior Squash Championships for the first time today.

In the quarter-finals which was being held at Zurich, the Indian trio of Vikram Malhotra, Aditya Jagtap and Ravi Dixit played some commendable squash to author a major upset, against all odds at the Vitish Squash Club.

Vikram started well but went down 9-1, 4-9, 0-9, 1-9 to Gregoire Marche.

But Aditya Jagtap restored parity by defeating Lucas Vauzelle 9-6, 9-2, 9-5.

Ravi Dixit, displaying tremendous fighting spirit, came back from two games down to dispose off Petrucci Antoine Camille 8-10, 2-9, 9-7, 9-1, 9-2 in a contest that went to the wire to complete a historic day for India, which had entered the team event semfinals in a world event for the first time.

Vikram came up with all guns blazing as he treated his higher ranked opponent Marche with scant respect. Unleashing a series of winners, Vikram won the first game, but he squandered a 4-0 lead in the second and lost the next two games.

Aditya, despite losing to Lucas in the European event last year, appeared a confident lot. He made his French rival run all over the court, hitting winners on either flank to restore parity.

The decider was a cliff hanger. Ravi started off nervously against Antoine-Camille Petrucci and was soon 0-2 down in the first and 2-5 down in the third.

At this point he staged a most remarkable comeback. If he was only retrieving in the first two games, he attacked at will from the third game onwards. As Petrucci started slowing down, Ravi capitalised on it. Thereafter, it was a mere formality as Ravi trooped out the deserving winner, enabling India to enter the semis for the first time in its history.

India face second seed Pakistan in the semi-finals while top seed and defending champions Egypt meet England in the other match.

India's previous best ever performance was the fifth place in 2002.

Results: Quarterfinals: Vikram Malhotra lost to Gregoire Marche 9-1, 4-9, 0-9, 1-9; Aditya Jagtap bt Lucas Vauzelle 9-6, 9-2, 9-5; Ravi Dixit bt Petrucci Antoine Camille 8-10, 2-9, 9-7, 9-1, 9-2.

(ED : PICK UP SUITABLY FROM EARLIER SERIES).

UNI GV PY BST1612

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