GEORGE TOWN: World No. 4 Alison Waters feels that playing in front of the home crowd in the 29th Women’s World Squash Championship can be a double-edged sword for seven-time champion Nicol David.
The English player, who is likely to take on Nicol in the semi-finals, made the comment after trying out the newly-assembled glass court at the SPICE Arena in Penang, which will host the meet from Tuesday until Sunday.
“It is always nice to play in front of the home fans. But there is the danger of being a home player working both ways. Sometimes, the support can spur a player on. At other times, the pressure and need to perform can unnecessarily weigh down a player,” said the 29-year-old Waters.
“As the seven-time world champion heading into this week’s competition, Nicol is definitely the favourite in Penang. But others have proven that Nicol can be beaten and I see everybody as having a chance to have a fair go at the world title this year.”
Waters, who has reached the semi-finals of the world meet twice, is looking at making her first breakthrough appearance in the final. And to do so on Nicol’s homeground would make the feat more remarkable.
“I have fond memories of Penang. My only previous visit here was 13 years ago to play in the world juniors at the same venue. I was part of England’s victorious team then and hopefully, I can achieve another success here.”
Nicol won the world junior individual title in 2001 at the Penang International Sports Arena (PISA), which has since been renamed the SPICE Arena.
Waters is also wary of her first round opponent Joshna Chinappa of India, the world No. 19, who has been impressive in her comeback after a long-term injury.
Said Waters: “I am coming to Penang on the back of good preparations and believe that I can do well here. Having said that, I will not have an easy ride because my first round match is against Joshna, who is a strong competitor and capable of causing problems for me.
“This year’s draw is so strong that there won’t be any easy opponents. It will all boil down to which player can raise her game on the day and which player struggles to get going.”
Waters was one of the first players on Sunday to try out the glass court for the tournament, which needed three days to be assembled. Waters sparred with her compatriot Sarah Kippax and Malaysia’s Low Wee Wern at the tournament venue.
is the official media for the 29th Women’s World Squash Championship.