Reigning National champion Velavan Senthilkumar sailed into the quarterfinals of the Pittsburgh Open squash, a prestigious USD 75,800 PSA World Tour Silver event, with an 11-6, 5-11, 11-5, 11-8 win over home favourite and No.8 seed Faraz Khan in a thrilling encounter.
This is the first PSA outing of the year for the 25-year-old Tamil Nadu player, ranked 63 in the world, after a breakout 2023 that saw him win four PSA titles in his first full year as pro.
Senthilkumar took an impressive early lead over the American, and cruised to an 11-6 first-game win. Khan regrouped, showing the World No.63 his strength as he levelled the match at 1-1.
The Indian reacted, storming to a 10-5 lead and Khan struck the tin on his return to put the 25-year-old within a game of his maiden Silver-event quarter-final.
The American pulled ahead in the fourth game as he took a 6-1 lead, but Senthilkumar upped his game, playing quick and accurate squash to level the game at 8-8. The Indian continued his late resurgence and won the fourth game 11-8 to secure the match, ending with a mistake from Khan on the match ball.
“It was really good. First of all, Faraz is a really good player. I’ve seen him play recently and he’s been having some really good results so going into the match I was a bit nervous, but at the same time really excited to be here competing. I was just there, enjoying my squash and enjoying myself,” Senthilkumar was quoted by tournament’s website.
The Indian ace will meet Egyptian world No 21 Youssef Ibrahim in the quarterfinals.
On achieving his maiden Silver-event quarter-final, he said: “I’m really happy, it’s something that I’ve always pushed for, and I’m always going to keep pushing for it as much as I can.”
“I’m excited to have this opportunity, I’m really happy to be here, and compete another day, and playing (Youssef Ibrahim) is going to be fun, and I’m really looking forward to it.”
In the opening round, Senthilkumar beat Japanese Ryunosuke Tsukue 11-2, 7-11, 11-6, 11-8.