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Tuesday December 4, 2012

Contrasting fortunes for Nicol and Wee Wern in Hong Kong

PETALING JAYA: It was a tale of contrasting fortunes for Malaysia’s top women squash players Nicol David and Low Wee Wern at the Hong Kong Open, which ended on Sunday.

World No. 1 Nicol extended her dominanation in Hong Kong – she is unbeaten in 40 matches – since the 2005 Women’s World Open as she sealed a convincing win over France’s Camille Serme in four sets.

World No. 7 Wee Wern, however, was forced to retire in the second round – to Serme – after suffering a hamstring tear in her right leg.

Given her current form and how the other top seeds had suffered early exits in Hong Kong, Wee Wern could well have beaten Serme and made the final herself had it not been for the injury.

The 22-year-old Wee Wern is now racing against time to be fit for the Women’s World Open, which starts from Dec 13-21 at Cayman Islands.

“I hate to retire in matches .. I just felt that if I could have carried on against Camille, I would’ve won,” said Wee Wern.

“The injury is not too serious, but it’s not too good either. Unfortunately, I still do not know whether I will be fit for the World Open.”

The young Penangite is seeded seventh for the World Open and is drawn to meet England’s Sarah Kippax in the first round, with a potential quarter-final clash against third seed Laura Massaro, also of England.

The week, however, belonged to Nicol as she stamped her authority with yet another dominating performance from start to finish.

The 29-year-old Nicol, whose confidence took a huge knock back in September after consecutive losses in the Malaysian Open and Carol Weymuller Open, has rebounded well and was on fire in Hong Kong.

She was fit, sharp and focused did not drop a single set en route to the final. Only a determined Serme managed to take a set off her in the final.

“This is my 10th year playing in the Hong Kong Open, but I’ve been playing in their junior open since I was 11. This will always be a special tournament for me,” said Nicol.

“Hong Kong is also where I won my first world title, so I guess every time I go back there, I feel that it’s the world title at stake all over again and I just have to win it!”

Nicol’s win also means that she will head into the World Open as the hot favourite to set another record – winning her seventh world title.

The way she is playing now, it’s hard to see anyone stopping her.

Meanwhile, the Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) concluded their 40th annual general meeting on Sunday, with the affable Datuk Syed Mustaffa Syed Ali returned unopposed as president.

Vice-president Leslie Ponnam­pa­lam, honorary treasurer Gabriel Teo also retained their posts alongside committee members Amran Ahmad, Tan Tian Huat. The only new face was Peter Lim Swee Seng, who replaced Rohaizan Rashid as committee member.

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