Great escape as reigning champion overcomes Rachael Grinham
By ALEX WAN – Squash Mad Asian Bureau Editor
Malaysian icon and defending champion Nicol David had to call on all of the experience that has seen her capture a record eight World Championship titles as she recovered from a game down to defeat 2007 winner Rachael Grinham in a stunning five-game spectacle in the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil, Malaysia.
David began the better of the two and swept to the first game, before a spectacular response from 39-year-old Grinham saw the Australian go 2-1 ahead and threaten to cause one of the biggest upsets in World Championship history.
But David stormed into action and dropped just three points in the final two games to record an 11-4, 8-11, 8-11, 11-1, 11-2 victory which was met with a deafening roar from a captivated crowd.
“In the fourth and fifth games I knew that I had to step it up, be in the rallies and force my game a lot more,” said David, who meets England’s Alison Waters in round two.
“I think that, in the first three games, it maybe took its toll a little bit and I could feel that she was getting tired in the fourth and fifth so I went through and won it as well as I could. I started to hit my balls better and I was, at least, getting the timing right.
“The court was a little bit deader in the evening than it was in the morning at practice so you have to adjust, get going and I felt much better in the fourth and fifth games because I could get out to the ball a bit better and attack when I could.
“I’ve beaten Rachael Grinham, who is a former World Champion. It’s not often you get former World Champions in the first round, but I got through. A win is a win and I’m very pleased to beat Rachael.”
In-form Egyptian World No.2 Nour El Sherbini is also through after a devastating display against Australia’s Donna Urquhart.
El Sherbini, the current British Open champion, was in superb form and put relentless pressure on Urquhart throughout the 29-minute affair with a range of inch-perfect drops, deceptive boasts and pinpoint drives enabling her to control proceedings
The 20-year-old powered to an 11-6 win in all three games to see her through to the next round where she will go head-to-head with Annie Au.
“It wasn’t that easy, even if it looked like it,” said El Sherbini. “Last time I played Donna it was at the US Open and I won in five so I knew what I needed to do and I was really prepared and focused. I was quite confident and now maybe I know how I am supposed to play. I never normally play that well in the first match so I’m happy to play like this.
“You’re always happy to end it in three. Even if it was 3-0, Donna is not an easy opponent to play.”
The day’s big upset saw Egyptian teenager Nadine Shahin shock former World No.2 Jenny Duncalf to seal a spot in the second round of a World Championship for the first time in her career, bridging a 34-place World Rankings gap in the process.
Shahin played with maturity and craft as she sought to outmanoeuvre her opponent and the World No.50 fought to an 11-6, 11-7, 11-9 triumph to ensure she will play best friend Nouran Gohar, the 18-year-old who defeated her in January’s British Junior Open.
“I’m speechless. It’s my first time to reach the last 16 of any World Series tournament, let alone the World Championship,” said Shahin.
“It means everything to reach the second round, but it’s not over yet, there’s another challenge tomorrow and I’m up for it.”
Gohar recovered from a game down to beat France’s Coline Aumard, while Camille Serme and Sarah-Jane Perry will face off after respective wins over Joey Chan and Olivia Blatchford.
Waters moved past Heba El Torky in four and there was also a victory for Annie Au, who beat Dipika Pallikal 3-2 in a hard-fought encounter.
PSA W185 Naza Women’s World Championship 2016, Bukit Jalil National Squash Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Results – First Round (Bottom Half):
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt [Q] Joey Chan (HKG) 3-1: 11-9, 11-6, 5-11, 11-4 (41m)
Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt [Q] Olivia Blatchford (USA) 3-0: 11-4, 11-6, 11-6 (28m)
[Q] Nadine Shahin (EGY) bt Jenny Duncalf (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-7, 11-9 (30m)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt [Q] Coline Aumard (FRA) 3-1: 10-12, 11-6, 11-5, 11-7 (50m)
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt Donna Urquhart (AUS) 3-0: 11-6, 11-6, 11-6 (29m)
Annie Au (HKG) bt Dipika Pallikal (IND) 3-2: 11-8, 11-9, 6-11, 6-11, 11-7 (63m)
Alison Waters (ENG) bt Heba El Torky (EGY) 3-1: 13-11, 11-7, 4-11, 11-7 (53m)
 Nicol David (MAS) bt Rachael Grinham (AUS) 3-2: 11-4, 8-11, 8-11, 11-1, 11-2 (46m)
Draw – Second Round: (To be played April 27th)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) v Joshna Chinappa (IND)
Delia Arnold (MAS) v  Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY)
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) v Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
Joelle King (NZL) v  Raneem El Welily (EGY)
 Camille Serme (FRA) v Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)
[Q] Nadine Shahin (EGY) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v Annie Au (HKG)
Alison Waters (ENG) v  Nicol David (MAS)
Pictures by ROSLAN HISAM (mroslanhisam.com)