PETALING JAYA: National squash queen Nicol David will be in for a tough time in the first round of the KL Open squash championship today.
She is down to play against Ellen Petersen of Denmark. Petersen thrashed Malaysian number three Tricia Chuah 9-0, 9-6, 9-1 in the final qualifying round at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil yesterday to set up the match against Nicol.
Nicol and Petersen have played only once before in a professional tournament – in the final of the 2002 KL Open and the Malaysian number one emerged as the winner.
“It's going to be the usual routine for me. I am just going to take one match at a time,” said Nicol, who is the second seed behind Holland's Vanessa Atkinson.
“Meeting a strong player in the early rounds is a bit unexpected. We have met only once before and it was a long time ago.
“So it's hard to predict how the match will go ... I will play my normal game.”
National chief coach Jamshed Gul felt that Nicol, who is ranked eighth in the world, should win the match because she was faster, stronger and more agile than her opponent.
“It shouldn't be a problem for Nicol. But it is always good to be cautious,” said Jamshed.
The other Malaysian competitor in the women's competition is Sharon Wee, who is seeded sixth. She takes on qualifier Runa Reta of Canada in the opening round.
Meanwhile, Atkinson is hoping to make amends for her dismal outing in the Kuwait Open last month where she was eliminated in the first round.
Atkinson, who opens her campaign against Egyptian Eman Al Amir, is tipped to play against Omneya Abdel Kawy in the semi-final.
“It is going to be difficult if I play against Omneya, especially in humid conditions like this. I need to keep the ball at the back of the court and wait until she makes a mistake,” said Atkinson.
“If I make the final, I expect to play against Nicol.
“She is playing very well of late and has a major home ground advantage here.”
Meanwhile, Kenneth Low was the only Malaysia to make the main draw from the qualifying rounds. He defeated Kirby Sinclair of Australia 15-13, 15-13, 15-12 yesterday and will play against sixth seed Mohd Essam Hafiz of Qatar in the first round today.
“It was not tough a match against Sinclair. I won mainly because the shots came in at the right time,” said Kenneth.
“It's going to be a tough first round for me because I have not been playing competitive squash since October last year.
“I had a bit of luck because I managed to avoid top seed Tommy Berden of Holland in the first round.”
Mohd Nafzahizam Mohd Adnan, however, failed to make the main draw. He was beaten 9-15, 6-15, 9-15 by Takehide Hota of Japan.
The other Malaysian in the men's competition is Timothy Arnold, who is a wild card entry.
But Timothy is unlikely to get past the first round. He will be up against second seed Wael El Hindi of Egypt today.
Final qualifying round
Men: Kenneth Low (Mas) bt Kirby Sinclair (Aus) 15-13, 15-13, 15-12; Roger Ngan (HK) bt Morten Sorensen (Den) 15-2, 2-15, 15-4, 15-7; Takehide Hota (Jpn) bt Mohd Nafzahizam (Mas) 15-9, 15-6, 15-9; Wong Wai Hang (HK) bt Tom Hoevenaars (Hol) 15-10, 15-8, 15-7.
Women: Katie Patrick (Can) bt Kate Roe ( Eng) 9-7, 9-3, 6-9, 9-5; Ellen Petersen (Den) bt Tricia Chuah (Mas) 9-0, 9-6, 9-1; Eman El Amir (Egy) bt Christina Mak (HK) 9-1, 7-9, 9-1, 9-5; Runa Reta (Can) bt Line Hansen (Den) 9-4, 9-0, 8-10, 4-9, 9-1.