Liz was tailor-made to coach Nicol – icon salutes Irving

Photo credit: SquashSite

PETALING JAYA: Nicol David paid tribute to her long-time coach Liz Irving after bowing out in the final match of her illustrious career.

Nicol went down 4-11, 7-11, 13-11, 5-11 in 41 minutes to world No. 3 Nour El Tayeb of Egypt in the second round of the British Open in Hull, England.

The 35-year-old has been with her Australian coach – a former world No. 2 – since she was 19.

“She’s been with me for the last 16 years and she transformed my game in a way no one else could, so thank you Liz,” said Nicol, while trying to hold back her tears after the match.

“She knew what it takes to be up there at the top. I trusted whatever she told me, and she was so right. I knew if I stuck to it, it will pay off.

“She’s always there when I was down and out and she’s here now by my side.

“At the same time I would like to thank my parents and my sister back home who wished they were here with me today.”

Nicol ended her career as the greatest female player of all time, winning a record eight world titles, 81 PSA titles, and having dominated the world No. 1 spot for 109 consecutive months from 2006-2015.

The world No. 18 recalled the first time she won the British Open in 2005 when she defeated Natalie Grinham in straight sets before defending it the next year against the Aussie’s sister Rachael with another straight-sets victory.

Nicol would win the title three more times and remains the only Asian to have picked up the women’s crown.

“The British Open was the thing that really kicked things off and winning that title gave me the belief that I could be one of the best on tour and gave me the confidence to win my first world title and get to world No. 1.

“At the time, you just never quite know until you experience it first-hand and as the years went by, that’s when I won my second world title and things really kicked off for me. It all really started from the British Open – I can’t believe it’s been nearly two decades.”

The PSA honoured Nicol with a highlight reel of her greatest achievements after the match.

Nicol’s win over Raneem el Welily in the final of the 2014 World Championships in Egypt will probably go down as the greatest match in history.

The Malaysian came back from four match points down to beat Raneem for the title.

“That was a truly special title. I didn’t know what was happening and I just went for it and it all came together. It was truly special to win my eighth world title there.”

Low Wee Wern’s challenge also ended in the second round after she lost 6-11, 4-11, 9-11 to world No. 5 Joelle King of New Zealand.

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