World No.1 wins all-Malaysian clash and sets sights on Egyptian target
By HOWARD HARDING – Squash Mad Correspondent
Malaysia’s world No1 Nicol David has set up arguably the biggest revenge match of her career when she meets Egypt’s world No3 Raneem El Welily in Friday’s semi-finals of the Women’s Delaware Investments US Open in Philadelphia.
Both players won their quarter-final matches in the 2014 WSA World Series Platinum event at Drexel University in straight games – David beating compatriot Low Wee Wern and El Welily overturning a defeat by England’s Alison Waters in last week’s Carol Weymuller Open in New York.
But David’s reward is a chance to avenge her last defeat on the WSA World Tour at the Malaysian Open in August – when a shock semi-final win by El Welily denied the Queen of Malaysian squash a place in the final of her country’s most high-profile event for the first time in 12 appearances since 2003!
David’s match with Wee Wern was a repeat of their Asian Games final in September – an historic first all-Malaysian climax which led to favourite David winning a remarkable fourth gold medal.
Bidding to win a record third successive US Open title, David extended her unbeaten run over her fellow Penangite by beating Low 11-6, 11-4, 11-9.
Unlike the four-game, hour-long Asian Games final in which Low claimed the first game, David controlled the US Open quarter-final from the beginning, forcing a number of Low errors to win the first game. The second ended just as clinically after an even start when David won six straight to clinch the game 11-4.
Low’s most formidable response came in the third game when she won three points to level the game at 9-9, at which point David closed out the 40-minute match 11-9.
“It’s a different tournament and for me it’s another big tournament, so I’m excited to be here,” David said of her pristine record in Philadelphia. “It was tough out there today playing Wee Wern, but I’m happy to win in three.
“It’s difficult playing against your team-mate, but you have to just think that it’s the quarter-finals and whoever is there is a contender, and they’re out to get you. I had to be alert and sharp today and I’m really pleased with my performance,” added 31-year-old David, now in her 21st successive WSA World Series semi-final since losing in the US Open quarters in 2011.
Earlier, El Welily recovered from 5-0 down to overcome fifth seed Waters 11-9, 11-8, 11-5. Londoner Waters not only beat the Egyptian last week at Heights Casino en-route to winning the biggest title of her career, but also held an 8-2 career head-to-head record over El Welily going into the match.
The most dangerous moment for El Welily came as she reached game ball at 10-9 in the first. Waters’ straight return of serve brought up a ‘no let’ call, but the Egyptian made good use of the video review to get that decision overturned, and promptly won the next rally to take the lead.
“I’m very thankful, and happy to win that match,” said the 25-year-old from Cairo. “I don’t think Alison was as fresh as she was last week. She wasn’t getting to a lot of shots that she was running down in New York.
“The rest days we get in this tournament are great,” added El Welily. “It gives you time to relax, chill out, and then prepare for the next round.”
It was a typically cool David who commented on her upcoming clash with El Welily, against whom she boasts a 13-3 Tour head-to-head record: “I’ve had a few tournaments since that match, so I’ve a few big wins, and I think I’ll just bring that forward. I’m looking forward to the semi-finals and I’m ready to go.”
Women’s Delaware Investments US Open, Philadelphia, USA.
Quarter-finals (top half of draw):
 Nicol David (MAS) bt  Low Wee Wern (MAS) 11-6, 11-4, 11-9 (40m)
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt  Alison Waters (ENG) 11-9, 11-8, 11-5 (32m)
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Pictures courtesy of WSA and US Open Squash