Monday, March 17, 2014

Nicol raring to take Penang by storm

WITH so many major events coming up this year, Nicol David will prioritise each one as it comes, starting with the Women's World Championship in Penang tomorrow.

The Glasgow Commonwealth Games, the Incheon Asian Games, the World Team Championship and possibly another individual world championship at the end of the year are all on Nicol's plate in 2014.
But first, the seven-time world champion would dearly love to claim another world title in front of her adoring home fans, 13 years after winning the world junior crown in Penang.

"This will certainly be the most memorable tournament ever, to have the World Championship in my hometown," said Nicol, 30, in a WSA Tour news release.
"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."

World No 1 Nicol will be making her first appearance in the country since winning the CIMB Malaysian Open last September and her first tournament in her home state since winning the Penang Open in 2006.

"I just like playing in Malaysia always and now in Penang," said Nicol, who takes a 39-match unbeaten run into the tournament.

On her gold medal defence at both the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, Nicol said: "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."

Nicol opens her campaign for a sixth world title in succession and eighth overall tomorrow against England's World No 22 Emma Beddoes at the Spice Arena in Bayan Baru.

l DELIA Arnold led a total wipe-out of Malaysians in the second qualifying round of the Women's World Championship at the Nicol David International Squash Centre in Bukit Dumbar yesterday.
Of the 20 who entered the qualifying draw, nine locals made it into the second round but that was as far as they got.

Egypt's 14-year-old Habiba Mohamed repeated her win over 37th-ranked Delia at the Malaysian Squash Tour Grand Finals last year, when she became the youngest winner of a WSA Tour title, winning 11-5, 7-11, 11-5, 11-4.

It was Delia's first match of 2014 while the others who fell yesterday were national No 4 Zulhijjah Azan, Pushppa Devi and juniors Rachel Arnold, Celine Yeap, Teh Min Jie, S. Sivasangari, Zoe Foo and Aika Azman.

South Korea's World No 78 Ahn Eun Chan, winner of the Malaysian Squash Tour opening leg last month, provided the biggest shock by ousting 25th-ranked Emily Whitlock of England 10-12, 11-9, 11-7, 11-8.

The carnage of local players leaves Nicol, Low Wee Wern and wildcard Vanessa Raj as the only Malaysians in the main draw, which eight qualifiers will join today. By Devinder Singh

NICOL DAVID

Read more: SQUASH: Nicol raring to take Penang by storm - Other - New Straits Times

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