PETALING JAYA: Nicol David’s challenge at the World Series Finals ended in the semi-finals after losing to Raneem El Welily in a three-set thriller.
World No. 5 Nicol, who is aiming for her third title after winning in 2012 and 2013, was unable to sustain the intensity as she lost 5-11, 11-8, 8-11 to the Egyptian in Dubai on Friday.
Raneem, the world No. 3, has been unbeaten in the tournament, started spraying shots from the start to easily win the first set 11-5.
Nicol responded by switching her tactics to long rallies and catching Raneem on the counter to take the second set 11-8.
The Penangite continued to surge ahead and looked good to win after leading 5-2 in the decider.
With both players running on near empty tanks, it was Raneem who overturned the deficit before going on to take the match in 36 minutes.
Despite suffering her fifth defeat in 25 meetings to Raneem, the 32-year-old Nicol remains positive.
“Raneem took the initiative from the start and I had to find a way to come back at her in the second,” said Nicol.
“I managed to do that and carried the momentum into the third but she made some good shots as I exposed myself too much in the end.”
Raneem said she had to push hard as Nicol was not making life easy for her.
“The crowd was expecting a good match and I think we gave them that. I really had to push through in the end before I was tired and starting to cramp up ... it’s never easy taking on Nicol,” said Raneem.
The Egyptian, who was briefly the world No. 1 last year, takes on England’s world No. 2 Laura Massaro for the title.
Massaro exacted sweet revenge by beating the world’s top player Nour El Sherbini of Egypt 12-10, 11-6 in the other semi-final.
“I feel like I’ve put in some really good work since the World Championship and it’s always nice to turn the result over,” said Massaro, who was beaten by Nour in the world meet final last month.
In the men’s event, Australian underdog Cameron Pilley continued his fine run to stune world No. 1 Mohamed El Shorbagy 11-9, 11-5 in the semi-finals.
“To scrape into the top eight and now to be in the final is something I can really be happy about,” said the world No.13 who meets France’s world No. 2 Gregory Gaultier for the title.
“It would be more than a dream to win it now because this is totally beyond expectations.”
Gaultier was at his imperious best as he swept past Colombia’s Miguel Angel Rodriguez 11-7, 11-7.
Men: Cameron Pilley (Aus) bt Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) 11-9, 11-5; Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Col) 11-7, 11-7.
Women: Laura Massaro (Eng) bt Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 12-10, 11-6; Raneem El Welily (Egy) bt Nicol David (Mas) 11-5, 8-11, 11-8.