‘It will be an electrifying atmosphere in KL’
By NATHAN CLARKE
Current World Champion Nicol David will return to her native Malaysia for the forthcoming PSA Women’s World Championship, and the eight-time winner expects the atmosphere to be electric when the prestigious tournament begins at the National Squash Centre, Kuala Lumpur on Monday April 25.
The 32-year-old from Penang, who is revered as a national icon in her home country, has dominated the World Championship in recent years, lifting the coveted title in eight of the last ten tournaments to overtake Australia’s Sarah Fitz-Gerald at the top of the all-time winners list.
Despite her myriad of World Championship successes, David has been unable to claim the iconic title in front of her own fans as of yet, bowing out at the semi-final stage in Kuala Lumpur in 2004 and Penang in 2013, but the former World No.1 is anticipating the partizan support from her home crowd to give her a boost as she aims for glory.
“It’s certainly exciting to be back in Kuala Lumpur competing again after quite some time and also playing the Worlds here again for the first time since 2004 will bring back many fond memories,” said David.
“I’ll make the most of this opportunity playing in Malaysia and I am pretty sure the atmosphere will be full of energy in the stadium. It would be a huge bonus of course (to win the title in front of her own fans) but my main goal is to just enjoy this moment to play in Malaysia, while gunning for the challenge at hand.”
David has endured a mixed 2015-16 season, with a 10th successive Hong Kong Open title balancing out the disappointment of seeing her unprecedented nine-year reign at the summit of the world rankings come to an end last September, when she was dethroned by Egypt’s Raneem El Welily.
She has since lost further ground on the top spot, which is now held by England’s Laura Massaro, after falling to World No.5 in the April World Rankings. While David concedes that it has been a challenging period, she insists that the experiences have only served to help her focus on how to get to the next level in her game.
“The season for me has certainly been an adjustment,” she admitted. “Winning in Hong Kong was such an achievement for me because I could still bring all of these elements together throughout the tournament.
“As this process is still ongoing, I have been making the most of my tournaments to work on my consistency with the adjustments. I have certainly had my own struggles over the past two years and it reflects on my performances and my ranking.
“However, through these experiences I am growing as a person and I am aiming to take these steps towards my next level of squash.”
As she gears up to challenge for a record ninth World Championship crown, which contains a record $185,000 purse, David also revealed just what it takes to be crowned the World Champion.
“Every one of those eight World Championship titles has a special significance in what I had to overcome in life to be able to win each title,” David explained.
“It comes with a lot of hard work, pain, struggles, sacrifice, and having to dig deep right into my core to find something more powerful than myself to do what I did throughout those years at the top.
“I couldn’t have done a lot of it without the amazing support I have with my coach Liz Irving heading my support team, and my family and friends always being by my side through my ups and downs to show me the way forward.”
The PSA Women’s World Championship takes place between Monday April 25 – Saturday April 30 and sees David seeded against British Open champion Nour El Sherbini, who has won the last four meetings between the pair, in the quarter-final.
All matches will be played at the National Squash Centre, Bukit Jalil where admittance to the event is free of charge. For more information and details, visit the tournament website
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