NICOL David's return to the winner's enclosure could not have been more emphatic after winning an eighth CIMB Malaysian Open title at The Curve on Sunday.It was Nicol's first title on the WSA Tour in eight months, after winning the World Series Finals in January before falling in her next three tournaments.
Nicol, surely, is back to her best, no longer side-tracked by campaigning for squash's Olympic bid, which contrary to her denial probably had an adverse effect on court.
Her confident victory against defending champion Raneem El Weleily of Egypt in three games should, for now, lay to rest any doubts over Nicol's motivation and form.
"It was one of my best performances in a while," said Nicol, 30, in a tacit acknowledgement of her below-par form since winning a record seventh world title last December.
"It's more about putting things together. Consistency then comes in. In the main, that's the hardest part.
"One win is one thing, what we have to work on is consistency. That matters more."
After adding the Malaysian Open to her successes at the World Games and National Championships, Nicol is now riding a 13-match winning streak.
There will be no let up for the World No 1 as the Carol Weymuller Open is up next in New York on Oct 1-6, followed by the US Open, China Open and Hong Kong Open.
The women's World Open is tentatively scheduled for mid-December at a venue to be decided.
"Any win is a good push to step it up for what's coming next," said Nicol, who will widen her lead over World No 2 Laura Massaro of England in next month's WSA rankings list.
"I trust my training. There will be no let up on the gas pedal and we will always move forward."
Coming into the Malaysian Open, Nicol was happy to assume the role of the underdog, even as there were nagging doubts over her ability to dominate the sport as she has done since 2006.
"I came in as the underdog, and it is what it is, knowing that everyone still expected me to win," said Nicol, who had the fervent backing of the home crowd.
"It happens. We worked on things and everything came together. I'm really pleased."
By Devinder Singh - Read more: SQUASH: Distractions aside, Nicol is back - Other - New Straits Times