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Tuesday August 16, 2011

It’s still Nicol’s show

PETALING JAYA: Nicol David’s triumph at the Australian Open squash championships which ended on Sunday is a testimonial to how consistent she has been in the sport throughout the years.

It was Nicol’s 54th title on the Women’s International Squash Players Association (Wispa) tour since turning pro in 2000 and what a way to win it – in her 700th match.

Since reclaiming the world No.1 spot in 2006, Nicol has simply gone from strength to strength and despite the occasional hiccups like last month’s surprise defeat to England’s Laura Massaro in the Singapore Masters, she is well poised to become the first woman in history to win six world titles in October’s World Open at Rotterdam.

Simply the best: Nicol David remains Malaysia's top player and world number one despite the occasional hiccups.- AFP

However the same cannot be said of the other Malaysian women in the fray – Low Wee Wern, Delia Arnold and Siti Munirah Jusoh.

Despite the occasional sparks of brilliance, Wee Wern, Delia and Siti still have a long way to go before they can catch up with Nicol and the other top players in the world.

The potential is there, maybe a different approach is needed for one of the trio to become Nicol’s successor in the future.

In particular the 21-year-old Wee Wern who is currently ranked No.17 in the world.

An overseas training stint could be just what the petite Penangite needs to become a real world class player.

As for the men, they simply need to buck up or they might finish even lower than ninth in the upcoming Men’s World Team Championship from Aug 21-27 at Paderborn, Germany.

Last year Malaysia only managed ninth, one of their worst performance to date but it could be even worst this year if performances of late are anything to go by.

The Malaysian quartet of Mohd Azlan Iskandar, Ong Beng Hee, Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan and Kamran Khan all participated in last week’s Australian Open but none of them managed to clear the second round with Kamran even failed to make the main draw.

Meanwhile, Malaysia are seeded fifth and have been drawn in Pool E together with 12th seeds Pakistan, Denmark and Austria in the world team meet.

However, despite the seedings, Pakistan are looking incredibly strong especially the 21-year-old Aamir Atlas Khan who beat Azlan in the quarter-finals of the Malaysian Open last month before losing in the final.

A slight reprieve is the return to form of the veteran Beng Hee and the improvements of Nafiizwan and Kamran.

Beng Hee was plagued by a horrible injury in past year and it hampered his performance and only recently he begun showing flashes of his old brilliance.

Still more effort is needed from our men’s team if they are to emulate their best ever finish of fifth in the world team championships back in 2007.

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