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Tuesday December 18, 2012

Nicol off to breezy start

<b>Moving on:</b> Wee Wern is in the second round Moving on: Wee Wern is in the second round

PETALING JAYA: World No. 1 Nicol David and national No. 2 Low Wee Wern cleared their first round hurdles in contrasting fashions at the Women’s World Open in Cayman Islands.

The 29-year-old Nicol, gunning for her record seventh world title, faced minimum resistance as she tore apart Egypt’s Omneya Abdel Kawy 11-8, 11-5, 11-5 in just 31 minutes on Sunday.

It was just the type of performance she needed to strike fear into the hearts of the pretenders eyeing her crown.

Nicol is clearly back at her best after a rather shaky September and will need to be at her merciless best again when she faces ninth seed Annie Au of Hong Kong in the second round.

Annie, who has never beaten Nicol in eight meetings, was made to work hard before dispatching Denmark’s Line Hansen 11-2, 11-5, 10-12, 11-8.

While Nicol had an easy time, world No. 7 Wee Wern, who is still recovering from a hamstring injury suffered at the Hong Kong Open earlier this month and who’s only had one training session before arriving in Cayman Islands, lost the first set before rebounding to beat England’s Sarah Kippax 7-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-5.

The petite 22-year-old Wee Wern admitted that she was not at her usual best but is determined to do better when she faces Australia’s Kasey Brown next.

“I was really struggling, to be honest ... in the first set I couldn’t move too well as I was focusing too much on my leg,” said Wee Wern.

“After a while, I had to take an injury time-out just to re-tape my leg as well.

“Although I’m clearly not in top shape, I’m happy to be through to the next round. I definitely didn’t fly 38 hours just to lose in the first round!

“Still, it’ll be extremely tough against Kasey in my current condition ... although I did beat her in the China Open last month.”

Meanwhile, national No. 3 Delia Arnold continued her woeful run of losing in the first round of the world meet after falling to India’s Dipika Pallikal.

The 26-year-old Delia, who came through the qualifiers, gave a good fight before going down 11-13, 9-11, 9-11 in 42 minutes for her fifth straight first round exit in the world meet.

In other matches, Guyana’s Nicolette Fernandes continued her impressive form and kept the Carribean crowd entertained with a stunning upset win over former world champion and 16th seed Rachael Grinham of Australia.

World No. 48 Fernandes showed great determination to come back from two sets down to beat 2007 world champion Grinham 3-11, 6-11, 12-10, 11-5, 11-9..

There were no such spoils elsewhere as second seed Raneem El Weleily of Egypt overcame Ireland’s Aisling Blake 11-9, 5-11, 11-4, 11-8 and third seed Laura Massaro powered past Colombian qualifier Catalina Pelaez 11-4,11-4, 11-6 in just 19 minutes.

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