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Tuesday February 4, 2014 MYT 10:59:00 AM
Tuesday February 4, 2014 MYT 4:54:49 PM
by kng zheng guan
Nicol David in a file photo. She meets Annie Au of Hong Kong in the Cleveland Classic final.
PETALING JAYA: World No. 1 Nicol David was once more unstoppable as she fended off the challenge of Egypt’s Nour El Tayeb to make the final of the Cleveland Classic.
Seven-time world champion Nicol was imperious against the 20-year-old for El Tayeb, who had taken out world No. 3 Raneem El Weleily in the quarter-finals, winning 11-7, 12-10, 11-4 on Monday (Tuesday morning Malaysian time).
Despite the comfortable score, Nicol flirted with danger at the Cleveland Racquet Club in Pepper Pike, Ohio, after going 8-2 down in the second set, before recovering to win that set 12-10.
In the end, it was all Nicol as last year’s beaten finalist mowed ahead 7-0 in the third before making short work of the 2011 world junior champion.
With the win, Nicol is now one step closer to her seventh straight Women’s Squash Association (WSA) Tour title, and second for the year. The Penangite has already won once this year in the US – at the Tournament of Champions (TOC) in New York last month.
“When I was down 8-2 and 10-7 in the second game, I just thought to myself ‘make every point count’ and I’m happy to make the final,” said Nicol on www.squashsite.co.uk.
El Tayeb meanwhile admitted that taking the second game from Nicol could have made a difference in the end result.
“If only I had won the second set ... there is no saying what could have happened in the end,” said the world No. 27.
Nicol meanwhile will contest in an all-Asian final after crafty Asian champion Annie Au completed her hat-trick against English players after beating fourth seed Alison Waters in the semi-finals.
The left-hander, who came through the qualifiers, had already beaten world No. 2 Laura Massaro and world No. 9 Jenny Duncalf in the first round and quarter-finals respectively.
And the 24-year-old Annie once more delivered another stunning performance to come from behind to beat Waters 6-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-2, 12-10.
In Pittsburgh, young Egyptian Karim Abdel Gawad came good after ousting top seed Alister Walker of Botswana to win the Pittsburgh Open.
The 22-year-old Gawad emerged triumphant 5-11, 11-7, 11-4, 13-11 after 82 minutes.
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squash, Cleveland Classic, Nicol David, Annie Au
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