What Nicol really, really wants is world title number eight
By HOWARD HARDING
Despite a glittering career in which she has won more than 70 World Tour titles over the past 16 years, Malaysia’s world number one Nicol David will compete in her “most memorable tournament ever” when she defends her title in the Penang CIMB Women’s World Squash Championship in her home state of Penang this week.
Staged in Penang for the first time in its 35-year history, the $120,000 championship is the premier event on the Women’s Squash Association (WSA) World Tour – and, on an all-glass showcourt at the SPICE Arena, the remarkable David is seeded to extend her World Championship record to eight titles.
“This will certainly be the most memorable tournament ever, to have the World Championship being held in my very own hometown,” said the illustrious 30-year-old Penangite. “This is the biggest squash spectacle Penang has ever hosted.
“I’m looking forward to this tournament starting soon and having all the top players right here – experiencing this island that is very close to my heart.”
Will the Queen of Malaysian squash perhaps be distracted by all the attention she is receiving on the eve of the tournament? “I just like playing in Malaysia always and now in Penang,” David responded. “It’ll give me a great boost to do my best and give it my all. I’ve trained hard and will make the most of it while being in Penang.”
How does the Penang World Championship fit in to her priorities for the year, in view of a heavy 2014 schedule which also includes the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games? “It sure is up there with the lot of priorities set for the year so I’ll keep this Worlds in Penang my main focus for now and deal with the rest of the year when the time comes.
“As long as I have my programme set then that’s how I would be able to take on each tournament this year,” added David, pictured above (left) with fellow Penangite Low Wee Wern, the No6 seed, at the event launch.
David singled out two people who deserve special praise for getting the WSA World Championship off the ground this year: “The biggest squash enthusiast with the sheer driving force was Mr Thomas Chan from Nusmetro – with massive support from the Chief Minister of the Penang State Government working closely with him and title sponsor CIMB to see this through.
“It was a challenge he was willing to endure in such a short time since this event was announced in January – but he has formed his team with the Penang Squash Academy’s structure with squash tournaments that has truly made this event rolling the way it is for this week.”
David, who is unbeaten in the World Championship over 25 matches since 2007, will begin her latest campaign against England’s Emma Beddoes, the world No22 from Leeds.
1st round draw:
 Nicol David (MAS) v Emma Beddoes (ENG)
 Annie Au (HKG) v Qualifier
 Camille Serme (FRA) v Qualifier
 Rachael Grinham (AUS) v Nicolette Fernandes (GUY)
 Alison Waters (ENG) v Joshana Chinappa (IND)
 Kasey Brown (AUS) v Nour El Sherbini (EGY)
 Joelle King (NZL) v Qualifier
 Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) v Qualifier
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v Joey Chan (HKG)
 Madeline Perry (IRL) v Sarah Kippax (ENG)
 Dipika Pallikal (IND) v Qualifier
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) v Qualifier
 Line Hansen (DEN) v Qualifier
 Low Wee Wern (MAS) v Donna Urquhart (AUS)
 Jenny Duncalf (ENG) v Qualifier
 Laura Massaro (ENG) v [WC] Vanessa Raj (MAS)