No Nicol in squash final
By Looi Sue-Chern
March 22, 2014
Malaysia suffered another blow today when Penang squash darling Datuk Nicol David failed to make the final in the Penang-CIMB 29th Women’s World Championship.
The world number one and seven-time world champion lost a nail-biting game at the Subterranean Penang International Convention and Exhibition (SPICE) Arena in Bayan Baru to unseeded player Nour El Sherbini of Egypt 11-4, 9-11, 6-11, 11-2, 9-11 in a gruelling 61-minute match.
After winning the first game, David lost the next two before coming back with a vengeance in the fourth game.
The home crowd was solidly behind David as she trailed behind her taller and younger opponent. Each point she scored earned her thundering applause and cheers as she made her comeback.
However, it was not enough to send her to the final tomorrow. David, the undisputed world number one since 2006, was seeking to win her eighth world championship right here in her home state of Penang.
David said her focus was off and that El Sherbini had been on a roll since the beginning of the championship and had played one of the best squash today.
“She was more assertive. She was attacking well without making mistakes. She played really good squash.
“She is a trooper and a top player, a true champion. She deserves the win today,” she said.
David, who was composed when speaking to the media, said it was obviously disappointing and it is never nice to lose at home.
“I have learned a lot from this game and now it is back to the drawing board to put it all together for the next game,” she said.
David, who will play in the British Open next in May, thanked the crowd for their support and urged everyone not to miss the final tomorrow at 4.00pm between El Sherbini and world number two Laura Massaro, 30, of England.
Meanwhile, an elated El Sherbini said she never expected to make it to the semis let alone beat David, whom she had lost to three times previously.
“I did not think I would make it pass the first round but my game improved along the way.
“I went in there without thinking about anything. I just played and I lost the first game. I don’t know what changed after that,” she said.
El Sherbini said unlike David, she was not under pressure even when her coach said she could win.
On meeting Massaro, she said she would just play on, adding that she has nothing to lose.
El Sherbini has been a giant-killer in the championship. The teen, ranked number 27th in the world, had put up quite a show at the championship, surprising all including herself for advancing to the semis by beating world number five Joelle King of New Zealand 11-9, 8-11, 13-11, 11-6.
Prior to that, El Sherbini knocked out world number four Alison Waters 11-3, 11-9, 7-11, 11-3 win in 41 minutes to make it to the last eight of the championship, and 12th seed Kasey Brown of Australia in the first round before that.
Massaro defeated world number three Raneem El Weleily, 25, of Egypt in the semi-finals 11-9, 11-7, 6-11, 11-7 in 48 minutes.
In an immediate response after the game, she said the game was “mentally tough” with El Weleily.
“We both had tough matches yesterday but I think I felt a little better today,” she said.
On losing the third game to El Weleily after winning the first two, she said she only had to push on to win the fourth game and not let it go to a fifth game.
The world championship, held for the first time in Penang, had already seen much excitement over the last few days since it opened on Tuesday.
All of the WSA’s top 10 players from around the world were in town competing in the championship although some of them bowed out early.
The event saw records broken by Egyptians El Sherbini and El Weleily in the quarterfinals yesterday. With both securing wins, Egypt now has a record of having two players in the semi-finals for the first time.
El Sherbini, 18, is also now the youngest semi-finalist in the championships’ history, breaking David’s record. The Malaysian squash queen was 20 when she made the semis 11 years ago.
Penangites also saw their other Penang girl, world number seven Low Wee Wern, 23, take her game as far as the quarter finals until she lost to Massaro.
The championship started with much fanfare on its opening day with side events organised to entertain the crowd. There were live band performances, a torch run with cyclists and marathon runners and a fireworks display.
The event will close tomorrow with the final game. Before that, the crowd will be entertained with performances by former F1 driver Alex Yoong, freestyle footballers and an aerial act. – March 22, 2014