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Sunday December 8, 2013 MYT 7:21:00 PM
Sunday December 8, 2013 MYT 8:06:21 PM
by kng zheng guan
Nicol David (right) in action against Egypt's Raneem El Weilely in the final of the Hong Kong Open. World no.1 Nicol won the match in staright sets to capture a record eighth Hong Kong title. - Courtesy of SquashSite.co.uk
PETALING JAYA: World No.1 Nicol David ended the year on a high with a superb performance to beat Raneem El Weleily for the Hong Kong Open title on Sunday.
Playing on the all-glass showcourt on the Hong Kong Harbour, Nicol was unstoppable despite moments of brilliance by the third seeded Egyptian, winning 11-7, 11-7, 12-10.
The seven-time world champion sped through the first set taking it after just eight minutes and a couple of errors by Raneem gifted Nicol the second set with a similar 11-7 score.
The 23-year-old Raneem who had pushed Nicol to five sets in the China Open final back in October came out firing in the third and briefly threatened to take the match to a fourth set.
Nicol however recovered from losing a long rally from a 10-9 lead to push ahead 11-10 before yet another error by Raneem sealed her fifth title of the year following wins at the Malaysian, Carol Weymuller, US and China Opens.
It was her eighth straight Hong Kong Open title and ninth title there since winning the 2005 Women’s World Open - the first of her seven world titles.
The win was made sweeter as it came on the day Nicol made her 90th Women’s Squash Association (WSA) Tour final appearance, equalling Australian legend Sarah Fitzgerald’s record.
It also extended her impressive head-to-head record with Raneem to 13-2, with the only two defeats coming in last year’s Malaysian Open and the Cleveland Classic earlier this year.
“I’m really happy to pull it through because Raneem was firing in the last set and put me on the back foot most of the time in that game,” said Nicol.
“But I received a few errors from Raneem which gave me the advantage and I’m just happy to win it 3-0.
“I think what spurred me on to winning is just knowing that I’m coming back to the place where I won my first world title back in 2005.
“The crowd was also pretty amazing and I’m definitely coming back to Hong Kong next year. But first I’ll probably go back to Malaysia to celebrate,” added the Penangite.
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