Atkinson strolls past Nicol in Malaysian Open final

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's Nicol David failed in her attempt to upstage top seed Vanessa Atkinson of Holland in the final of the Malaysian Women's Open squash championship at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil yesterday. 

In fact, Nicol lost tamely in a lop-sided final, going down 2-9, 4-9, 0-9 in just 25 minutes. 

It was Atkinson's fourth title of the year and her second at the same venue. Atkinson won the Kuala Lumpur Open in February, also beating Nicol easily in the final. 

WINNERS: Holland's Vanessa Atkinson (right) and Malaysia's Nicol David pose with their trophies after the final of the Malaysia Women's Open at the National Squash Centre Saturday.

Atkinson earned US$3,000 (RM11,400) for her win while Nicol took home US$2,100 (RM7,980).  

“I wish I could move this glass court to every tournament I play in,” said Atkinson afterwards. “It's been a very lucky court for me so far. 

“Nicol has been having a good tournament. I didn't think it would be this easy. I expected more resistance from her. She had a tough semi-final yesterday (Friday). That must have drained her out,” added Atkinson. 

Nicol had to toil for a 9-5, 3-9, 9-2, 10-8 semi-final victory over second seed and world number seven Linda Charman of England the previous day. The Malaysian clearly looked lethargic and struggled to keep up with Atkinson. 

Nicol, who lost in the final last year to Cassie Jackman of England said: “I managed to recover mentally but physically I was not up to mark for the final. 

“After playing at a very high level against Linda, it was hard push my game up so soon. The final was a good lesson for me. I need to learn to recover faster from long hard matches. 

“Furthermore, Vanessa was playing well which left little room for me to do anything,” added Nicol who won the Asian championship for the fourth time at the same venue last month.  

In the first set, Atkinson quickly raced to a 4-0 lead before Nicol could make any headway. Nicol managed to win only two points before Atkinson wrapped up the set 9-2 in 10 minutes. 

Vanessa said: “My game plan was to use a lot of drives to keep Nicol in the back corners.  

“She is much faster than me and there was no way I was going to outrun her.” 

Nicol put up more resistance in the second set. An upset looked to be a possibility when Nicol managed to come back from 0-4 down to 4-6.  

Unfortunately, Atkinson quickly stepped up the pace and Nicol could not keep up. Atkinson won the next three points to go 2-0 up in 11 minutes.  

It was completely one-sided in the third set, with Atkinson totally dominating and Nicol losing grip with numerous unforced errors. Atkinson whitewashed Nicol 9-0 in four minutes.  

Nicol said: “It was rather frustrating in the first set, my shots weren't coming in. And I couldn't find a way past Atkinson because she was playing very well.  

“I tried to get back in the second set but Atkinson already had a strong hold on the match,” added Nicol. 

Overall, though, it was a good tournament for Nicol, the fourth seed, went beyond expectations to qualify for the final for the second consecutive time. 

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