PETALING JAYA: Women's national number one Nicol David (pic) looks good for a semi-final appearance in the Irish Open Squash Championship in Dublin, which starts on Thursday.
Nicol, seeded fourth in the competition, opens her campaign against Carla Khan of Pakistan in the first round.
She is expected to meet seventh seed Madeline Perry of Ireland in the quarter-final.
But the Penangite will face an uphill task against top-seed Vanessa Atkinson of Holland who is expected to be her semi-final opponent.
The pair have met twice this year with both meetings ending in favour of Atkinson.
Atkinson, the world number three, defeated Nicol 9-0, 9-7, 1-9, 9-2 to win the KL Open title in February and knocked out the Malaysian 9-6, 9-2, 9-5 in the quarter-final of the Texas Open last week.
Squash Rackets Association of Malaysia secretary Wong Ah Jit said: “It shouldn't be a problem for Nicol to reach the semi-finals but it's going to be tough her against Atkinson.
“At the moment, Nicol cannot match the pace the ball is being hit by the top players in the world. Players like Atkinson are stronger and can hit the ball harder compared to Nicol. When the ball is played at a faster pace, Nicol is reduced to retrieving balls.
“Nicol has speed but there is just so much running around a person can do. Nicol is bound to make loose returns and Atkinson just has to wait for that. This has been happening in the past two encounters between the two players,” said Ah Jit.
Sharon Wee is also competing it the tournament but she is not expected to get past her first round opponent, eighth seed Jenny Tranfield of England.
Meanwhile, Nicol, currently ranked eighth in the world will be taking part in the Women's International Squash Player Association's (WISPA) sixth annual promotional tour, which will be held in China from June 2-8.
World number two Racheal Grinham of Australia will join Nicol in the seven-day tour which features exhibition matches, squash clinics and meetings with sports officials in Shanghai and Beijing.
The tour is jointly organised by WISPA and the China Squash Association (CSA).