Nicol David meets Low Wee Wern in Philly
By HOWARD HARDING – Squash Mad Correspondent
Just two weeks after combining to help Malaysia win team gold in the Asian Games, Nicol David and Low Wee Wern will be on opposite sides of the squash court as they face off for a place in the semi-finals of the 2014 Women’s Delaware Investments US Open, the WSA World Series Platinum event at Drexel University in Philadelphia.
Sixth seed Wee Wern, now boasting a career-high world No5 ranking, recorded her fourth successive Tour win over Nicolette Fernandes when she beat the 16th seed from Guyana 11-8, 11-7, 5-11, 11-3 in just over an hour to reach the event’s last eight for the second year in a row.”I was really struggling at the start,” admitted Low (pictured above with Fernandes). “I just couldn’t see the ball or find any length. I was struggling through all the games really. She was playing well and putting a lot of pressure on me.”
Top seed David is bidding to win a record third successive title. The world No1 played out her 35th Tour match with veteran Australian Rachael Grinham – and earned a 14th successive win over the 2006 champion (since losing the British Open final in 2007) when she beat 37-year-old Grinham 11-1, 11-8, 11-3.
“I think it’s the Philly Cheesesteak!” David (pictured above with Grinham) jested when asked about her luck in Philadelphia. “It’s been great. I love coming back to Philly. I have so many great memories after winning two US Opens here. I just love this court and the crowd as well. You can just feel the vibe to the whole event, which just makes you want to play good squash.
“Rachael and I have played so many times, she’s so experienced and tricky – you have to have plans A, B and C ready against her! I knew I had to be totally focused, and I was really pleased with my performance today.”
David’s clash with fellow Penangite Low will be their first meeting since contesting the Asian Games individual final in September. “It’s always tough going up against your team-mate,” David continued. “It’s great for Malaysia for us both get to the quarter-finals. It’s nice to see Wee move up the rankings as well, so I’m looking forward to a good match, but it’s still the quarter-finals of the US Open so I’m going to put my focus in and get started strong.”
The other quarter-final decided from the first session of second round action will see a repeat of last week’s Carol Weymuller Open semi-final clash in New York between Egypt’s Raneem El Welily and England’s Alison Waters, the third and fifth seeds, respectively.
El Welily, the world No3 from Cairo, reduced the deficit of her 4-7 head-to-head record with compatriot Omneya Abdel Kawy by beating the 10th seed 11-8, 11-9, 11-6.
“I’m very happy with how I played,” said El Welily, the 2012 runner-up. “I was moving well – the physio team here are looking after me really well.”
Waters faced unseeded Egyptian Nouran Gohar, the 17-year-old prodigy to whom she lost in straight games in their only previous meeting, in the China Open just a year ago.
The Londoner saw a two-game lead cut back by the impressive Cairo teenager before she reasserted her authority in the decider to win 12-10, 11-8, 1-11, 15-17, 11-2 in 62 minutes.
“That was really tough,” admitted world No7 Waters. “For 17 years old her hitting is amazing and endless. I’m glad I managed to beat her now, in a couple of years it’s going to be very difficult!
“I was still feeling pretty good and quite confident despite losing those match balls in the fourth, but I was glad I was able to come back strongly in the fifth. I think she got a bit excited about the prospect of winning.”
For all the latest WSA Tour news: wsaworldtour.com
Women’s Delaware Investments US Open, Philadelphia, USA.
2nd round (top half of draw):
 Nicol David (MAS) bt  Rachael Grinham (AUS) 11-1, 11-8, 11-3 (28m)
 Low Wee Wern (MAS) bt  Nicolette Fernandes (GUY) 11-8, 11-7, 5-11, 11-3 (61m)
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt  Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) 11-8, 11-9, 11-6 (31m)
 Alison Waters (ENG) bt Nouran Gohar (EGY) 12-10, 11-8, 1-11, 15-17, 11-2 (62m)
US Open images courtesy of Steve Cubbins and www.usopensquash.com