Four-time world champion Amr Shabana of Egypt (left) rolled back the years with a sublime display to oust reigning world champion Nick Matthew of England at the Tournament of Champions in New York on Tuesday. - Squashpic.com.uk
PETALING JAYA: World No. 1 Nicol David was in sizzling hot form in chilly New York as she easily defeated Hong Kong’s Annie Au in the first round of the Tournament of Champions (TOC).
The 30-year-old Nicol, returning to action for the first time since winning the Hong Kong Open last month, was simply too good for Annie, mastering the Asian champion in snow-hit New York for an 11-4, 11-4, 11-6 on Tuesday.
It was just the start the seven-time world champion from Penang needed as she made her debut in the TOC.
“The corners of the court are pretty much dead, which works well to my advantage,” said Nicol on www.squashsite.co.uk.
“Annie is pretty dangerous when she gets the ball in the middle of the court and I did not want to let her have that advantage.”
Nicol will meet compatriot and national No. 2 Low Wee Wern in the quarter-finals.
The 23-year-old Wee Wern also enjoyed a solid start, defeating American veteran Latasha Khan 11-6, 11-7, 11-5.
“It’s snowing in New York right now and it’s really cold! Luckily, the match is indoors ... so, it’s not so bad,” said Wee Wern in a telephone interview.
“I definitely took a while to get started ... I was a little slow in getting my length on the glass court.
“It was scrappy at first but I’m always happy to win 3-0 and make the quarter-finals.
“I’m facing Nicol next ... so, I’m definitely expecting a very tough time.”
Wee Wern last faced Nicol in the quarter-finals of the Malaysian Open last year, losing in four sets.
In the men’s quarter-finals, four-time world champion Amr Shabana of Egypt rolled back the years with a sublime display to oust reigning world champion Nick Matthew of England 9-11, 12-10, 11-7, 2-11, 11-9.
“That was probably one of the best matches I have played in a long time,” said the jubilant 34-year-old from Cairo.
“Nick is the world champion now and the world No. 1 ... and he’s beaten me in the last four times we played, so I had to be at my best to win. Thankfully, I stuck to my game plan and it worked.”
Shabana will go on to face fourth seed James Willstrop in the semi-finals. Willstrop won the all-English quarter-final clash against Peter Barker 11-7, 5-11, 12-10, 11-5.