Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Exclusive: Nicol David on the overwhelming feeling of losing her world title in Malaysia

Nicol David shares moments of joy and despair at losing the world title in her home town
By ALEX WAN  – Squash Mad Malaysian Correspondent

Nicol David shares third place at the Worlds
Nicol David shares third place at the Worlds

Nicol David carried the weight of a nation on her slim shoulders into the Women’s World Championships in her home town of Penang. With massive crowds cheering her to the rooftops, and with the Malaysian media building up her chances and making her the main focus of all tournament coverage, the pressure on those shoulders became overwhelming. Nicol lost in the semi-final to young Egyptian Nour El Sherbini and the Malaysian superstar then saw the world title won for the first time by England’s Laura Massaro. Squash Mad writer ALEX WAN caught up with Nicol as she returned to training in Amsterdam.

On the semi-final match
– What were your feelings right after the semi final loss to Nour?
It was tough to lose in the semis especially being in Penang but I have to give credit to Nour that she played really well and deserved the win.

– What do you feel was the difference in that match, with it being so close.
The match was close and it could go either way so on the day it was Nour that took her chances.

– Was there a particular tipping point or crucial moments in the match that turned against you?
There was no obvious moment, because while you’re on court, both of us were fighting til the end. Some points may have slipped away but Nour made the points count.

– Was there any particular shot or area from Nour that troubled you?

Nour El Sherbini shocks Nicol David
Nour El Sherbini shocks Nicol David

Nour is known as a shot player just like most Egyptians and if I gave a slight opportunity, she would take it. This time it really work her way.

– Given the close quarter final match win over Camille, how was your confidence level and feelingl going into the match against Nour?
After coming out winning in the quarter-finals in five games, it just shows that I had to keep stepping up my game in the semis. The World title is certainly on everybody’s mind; that’s why the standard of the competition was going to be high as expected.

On the tournament
– With it being held in Penang, do you feel it was in some way home ground disadvantage?

Laura Massaro wins the world title
Laura Massaro wins the world title

It was a proud time for me playing the Worlds in Penang and the crowd was outstanding with the support right through the week. This is truly overwhelming to be playing in front of the biggest crowd ever in squash history that I’ll take this on for the next time as we continue to grow our sport.

– How have you been feeling all week and also the build up to the tournament. I am sure you’d agree with me that many, in some ways, have expected a home win. How did this affect you? (Personally, I feel you did not play even close to your best, especially in the quarters)
Of course I’m disappointed with the result as I worked hard leading up towards the Worlds but sometimes there will be days when I may have my focus going just slightly then the other players at this level may take it on. It is my place now to continue working to understand this better and not let that happen again.

On the final
-Had I asked you this before the final, who would you put your money on to win?
It was so close that I knew it would have come down to the wire in that match. A great match overall and very pleased with the turnout by the Penang crowd to cheer them on. 

Pictures courtesy Lynn Khoo and the World Championship website 


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