Rare defeat for Malaysia's Nicol David

KUALA LUMPUR: Five-time world champion Nicol David suffered a rare defeat – her first in 15 months – after going down 9-11, 7-11, 11-9, 8-11 to Laura Massaro in the final of US$55,000 Cleveland Racquet Classic in Ohio on Wednesday.

This was the world number one ranked Malaysian’s first defeat by the world No. 9-ranked Englishwoman in nine meetings.

It also marked Nicol’s first defeat in 42 matches. Her last defeat was at the hands of Jenny Duncalf in the

the semi-finals of the Qatar Classic on Nov 22, 2009.

Yesterday’s upset win was a well-deserved one for Massaro, who had played great squash throughout the week.

Massaro had earlier stunned world No. 2 and compatriot Duncalf in straight sets in the quarter-finals and world No. 7 Madeline Perry of Ireland in the last four.

In the final, the eighth-seeded Massaro continued her great form by taking a comfortable 7-2 lead before Nicol fought back to level the score at 9-9.

But Massaro, who was playing in her first ever final in the gold event, took the set with some splendid forehand shots.

The win boosted Massaro’s confidence and the Englishwoman continued to play patient squash while Nicol continued to make unforced errors to lose the second set.

The third set saw Nicol get off to a good start, but Massaro fought back to level the score at 9-9.

This time, however, Nicol kept her cool to bag the next two points courtesy of errors by Massaro.

Nicol began the fourth set by taking a 3-1 lead but Massaro’s aggressive attacking game saw her take an 8-5 lead to put pressure on the Malaysian before holding match point at 10-6.

Although Massaro dropped two points, she went on to seal the set – and match – 11-8.

The 27-year-old Nicol, who won all nine Women’s International Squash Players Association (Wispa) tournaments last year, said: “She went for every single shot.

“I just tried to do different things but nothing went right.

“She had nothing to lose and went for it. That’s what every player does when they come up against me.

“I didn’t play my best. Actually, I was a little bit impatient and she gained that little bit extra in each set.

“I also made some errors early in the game. She worked hard in each game.

I am quite puzzled with my game.

“I will definitely come back to win the title next year,” added Nicol, who has won 50 Wispa titles since turning pro in 2000.

Massaro, meanwhile, was delighted to have beaten Nicol for the first time.

“I played the best squash of my career as I beat three top seeded players to win the tournament,” said Massaro, who won her eighth Wispa title since turning pro also in 2000.

“It’s nice to have finally beaten Nicol, who is the best player in the world. The victories over the three higher ranked players will definitely help me improve on my world rankings.”

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