World no. 1 Nicol David (front) says one should not compare what she has achieved with the next squash player in the country. - BERNAMA
PETALING JAYA: Please don’t compare the juniors to me.
That’s the opinion of world No.1 Nicol David, seven-time world champion, five-time British Open winner and a two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist, in light of the lack of good players emerging from squash.
Nicol, who eyeing her ninth CIMB Malaysian Open title which starts on Monday at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil, believes we need to be more patient and supportive of the younger players in the search for the next top player.
“I think the sport in Malaysia is definitely stepping up because there are more juniors who are coming out and performing well,” said Nicol.
“It’s not that obvious because the tournaments that Low Wee Wern (national No. 2) and myself compete in generate more interest by the media.
“However, the nation’s expectations for results from squash to fulfil the same results as myself may not be entirely realistic. What I have achieved should not be compared to the next squash player in the country.
“I hope that my contributions would inspire the juniors but we need to encourage and take time to develop them instead of comparing and setting goals that are too high,” added Nicol.
Nicol, who has been in fiery form, except for the World Championships in March when she was beaten by Egypt’s Nour El Sherbini, is determined to extend her hot streak at the Malaysian Open.
An added incentive for Nicol is that the tournament finishes on Aug 23, three days shy of her 31st birthday.
“The Malaysian Open is probably considered as one of the ‘Grand Slam’ events for women’s squash. The crowd and media coverage give the event a prestigious feel where every top player would love to win.
“Personally, I would like to perform with the support of the Malaysian public behind me every year. It is nice that the tournament this year is close to my birthday but of course the main focus is to give it my best when I compete,” added the Penangite.
Nicol, who is the defending champion, faces a qualifier in the first round and is slated to meet either Egyptian Omneya Abdel Kawy or Hong Kong’s Annie Au in the quarter-finals.
Wee Wern and Delia Arnold are the other two Malaysians in the main draw while five others – Vanessa Raj, Rachel Arnold, Teh Min Jie, S. Sivasangari and Zulhijjah Azan start from the qualifiers.