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David set to savour Tournament of Champions debut

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Malaysian ace ‘can’t wait’ to finally experience Grand Central Station buzz next week

By MICHAEL CATLING – Squash Mad Reporter

Seven-time World Champion Nicol David will make her long-awaited debut at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions next week – and admits that competing at Grand Central Station will be ‘the highlight of the year’.

David, who won her fifth consecutive WSA Tour title at the Hong Kong Open last month, heads a star-studded field which features all but one of the top 20 women in the world. 

The qualifying rounds of the first WSA Gold event of 2014 get underway at the Princeton Club on Saturday, before David makes her debut in the main draw just three days later. 

“The Tournament of Champions definitely is the highlight of the year and what better way to play my first tournament of the year than at Grand Central Station in New York City,” the world number one told the official WSA website.

“I’m really thrilled to be part of this tournament for the first time in my career and can’t wait to absorb the atmosphere that is in store for us.

“I’ve been to Grand Central just to visit the place during my stay in New York and it has such a buzz to it. I can’t imagine how the buzz is going to be as I step onto the glass court there. I can’t wait to get going already.”

The 30-year-old Malaysian is undefeated in her last 27 matches and will be gunning for her maiden Tournament of Champions crown. David meets a qualifier in the opening round before a possible quarter-final clash with fellow Penangite and world number six Low Wee Wern. 

World number two Laura Massaro, who beat David in the British Open final last May, also begins her campaign against a qualifier but could draw sixth seed Joelle King in the quarter-finals.  

Elsewhere, third seed Raneem El Welily of Egypt faces new world number seven Madeline Perry on Monday, while English duo Alison Waters and Jenny Duncalf await the outcome of the qualifying ties at the weekend. 

Unseeded Dutchwoman Natalie Grinham, who won the title in 2012 and 2013, lurks ominously in the bottom half of the draw and could meet El Weleily in the last eight. However, she will have to negotiate past world number eight Camille Serme in the pick of the first-round matches.

First qualifying round:

Dipika Pallikal (IND) v Emily Whitlock (ENG)
Annie Au (HKG) v Donna Urquhart (AUS)
Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v Sarah Kippax (ENG)
Amanda Sobhy (USA) v Cecelia Cortes (USA)
Line Hansen (DEN) v Sabrina Sobhy (USA)
Rachael Grinham (AUS) v Joey Chan (HKG)
Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v Olivia Blatchford (USA)
Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) v Fernanda Rocha (ARG)

Pictures courtesy of Michael Catling and Tournament of Champions website

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