PETALING JAYA: World No. 1 Nicol David showed just why she’s still the queen of squash after producing a determined performance to beat Joelle King 11-8, 11-6, 5-11, 8-11, 11-7 in the semi-finals of the US Open in Philadelphia on Thursday.
This will be 29-year-old Nicol’s first-ever US Open final.
Having overcome England’s Alison Waters in the last eight, Nicol was in inspired form and started the match against the Kiwi No. 1 strongly to take the first two sets.
King, who came through the qualifiers, couldn’t cope with Nicol’s patient searching game and looked completely out of sorts.
But the world No. 12, who had knocked world No. 5 Nour El Sherbini and No. 4 Jenny Duncalf out of the tournament earlier this week, suddenly found her rhythm and began to look more threatening.
Suddenly, it seemed like September all over again. Nicol suffered two agonising losses that month – to Waters and Raneem El Weleily.
Nicol struggled with King’s pace and made too many errors.
King eventually took the third and fourth sets and was looking good in the fifth as well, leading 6-0.
But Nicol wasn’t done yet. Not this time.
She found her A-game just when she needed it most to reel in 10 straight points before wrapping up the 83-minute match with a sweet volley from mid-court.
“I just knew that it’s not over until it’s over!” said a delighted Nicol, who is seeking to complete her collection of WSA World Series titles.
“I’ve been there before and it’s just down to being determined not to let it go, not making any more errors and getting my momentum back.
“In the end I did that and I found my game. I’m really pleased to win it at 3-2 and I’m now looking forward to the final.”
The Penangite will take on second seed Weleily in a rematch of their Malaysian Open final last month, which Nicol lost.
The Egyptian was not at her best against third seed and defending champion Laura Massaro of England but still did enough to win a thrilling five-setter 7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 10-12, 11-4 in 60 minutes.
Men: Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt James Wilstrop (Eng) 11-7, 11-2, 11-8; Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt Nick Matthew (Eng) 15-13, 8-11, 11-8, 11-4.
Women: Nicol David (Mas) bt Joelle King (Nzl) 11-8, 11-6, 5-11, 8-11, 11-7; Raneem El Weleily (Egy) bt Laura Massaro (Eng) 7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 10-12, 11-4.