PETALING JAYA: Former world champion Vanessa Atkinson believes that Malaysian squash queen Nicol David still has a lot to offer at the highest level – if she can make some changes to her game.
Eight-time world champion Nicol has been struggling to dominate the sport in the last two years, which coincided with the emergence of Egyptian players.
Still, the Penangite, who ruled as world No. 1 for nine straight years from 2006-2015, managed to stay competitive.
She won the Ciudad de Floridablanca Open in Colombia in March and continued to perform consistently to stay at No. 5 in the world.
“The game has changed quite a bit in the past few years and Nicol’s style of play, which won her so many titles, is no longer effective,” said Atkinson, who preceded Nicol as the world champion and world No. 1 in 2005, on the Professional Squash Association (PSA) Tour website.
“The lower tin (17 inches) has certainly played a big part. It’s all about a player’s ability to adapt to these changes and turn them into their advantage.
“Nicol has been very consistent in making the quarter-finals and semi-finals at big events, but she hasn’t won a World Series meet since the Hong Kong Open in 2015.
“Physically, she’s still one of the best athletes out there and you don’t achieve what she has without a huge amount of resilience.
“If she can continue to adapt her game to the lower tin and expand her short game, she’ll keep herself in the running for a while yet,” added the Dutchwoman, who retired in 2011.
Nicol, who turned 34 last month, will surely be looking to deliver another good showing at the Netsuite Open, which began in San Francisco yesterday.
This is a good chance for her to nail her second title of the year as she is the seeded second behind 33-year-old world No. 4 Laura Massaro of England.
Nicol, who was a semi-finalist at the Netsuite Open last year, faces Egyptian Heba El Torky in the first round. She should reach the semi-finals, where she’s likely to face England’s world No. 13 Emily Whitlock.
Massaro has a tougher draw and is tipped to meet compatriot and world No. 6 Sarah-Jane Perry in the last four.
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