Squash: Nicol is feeling the heat

KUALA LUMPUR: A perfect record of 10 tournament wins this season has put more pressure on Nicol David to maintain her unbeaten run on the Women’s International Squash Players Association (Wispa) circuit next year.

Nicol’s achievement this year was her career best since turning professional in 2000. The Penangite won eight of the 11 Wispa tournaments she competed in last season.

“I won eight titles last year and believed that it was a good achievement.

“I never thought that I would win all 10 tournaments this year. It is definitely a fantastic achievement for me,’’ said Nicol, who has gone unbeaten in 53 matches since last November.

Her last defeat was in the second round of the World Open in Madrid last October. But she bounced back to win two tournaments for the year at the Qatar Classic and Hong Kong Open.

The world number one opened her campaign this year with victory at the Apawamis Open in New York. And she went on to claim the titles at the Kuala Lumpur Open, British Open, Seoul Open, Malaysian Open, Singapore Masters, Dutch Open, World Open, Qatar Classic and Hong Kong Open.

Nicol added that she would play between 10 and 12 tournaments next year and the pressure would be on her to continue winning matches.

“It’s going to be challenging for me next year to maintain my form. I need to stay focus and keep improving on my game in tournaments as all the top players will be going all out to get the better of me,” she said.

Nicol added that English players Jenny Duncalf and Alison Waters and Kiwi Shelley Kitchen had improved a lot since last year and would pose a threat to her.

“After a perfect year, I have decided to conduct a few matches for the juniors next year when I return from tournaments,” she said.

“I want to repay the NSC (National Sports Council) and the SRAM (Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia) who have helped me to achieve glory, and also to the juniors, who look upon me as their role model.”

Nicol will end her commitment in competition this year in the world women’s team championship, which begins on Sunday in Cairo.

She left last night for the championship with the other members of the team — Sharon Wee, Delia Arnold and Low Wee Wern.

Nicol said that she would take a one-month break after the championship to spend time with her family.

“I will leave for Melbourne in January to train under former world champion Sarah (Fitz-Gerald) before I play my first tournament of the year.

“I am waiting for the release of the Wispa calendar next year to decide on the tournaments to play in,’’ she said.

In the world team championship, Malaysia are the fourth seeds and they have been drawn in Group D with Holland, South Africa and Germany.

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