Nicol David will be aiming for an incredible seventh title in a row thisweek at the CIMB Malaysian Open, being held at the National Squash Centre and The Curve shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur. The tournament, which has recently been upgraded, will be the second World Series event of the year, following on from the Cayman Islands Open back in April. David won the title in the Caymans and will look to stay atop of the World Series standings in front of her home fans.
However, there will be a whole host of top players with their eyes on the title and many will feel they canpotentiallydethrone the Queen of Squash. Earlier this year David was defeatedfor the first time in over twelve months byworld number sevenLaura Massaroin the final of the Cleveland Classic. Massaroand David could have a repeat clash in the quarter final if they are both to come through their openers. Massaro, the British Champion, opens against a qualifier and David starts her campaign with a tricky match up against Australia’s Donna Urquhart, who made a shock run to the semi final of the Cayman Islands Open.
Nine of the worlds top ten feature in the draw, with the only absentee being world number five Alison Waters, who is still recovering from an ankle injury.
World Number two Jenny Duncalf, David’s closest rival, starts against a qualifier and will be looking to go one further than last year when she pushed David to a nail biting fiver setter in the final. She could possibly play Australia’s Kasey Brownin the quarter final. Brown takes on a qualifier in the first round.
The two standout matches from the first round feature world number three Rachael Grinhamand French number one Camille Serme, bothwill have to be at their very best to make the quarter final. Grinhamtakes on Annie Auandwhilst Grinhamholds a 2-1 head to head advantage, Au won their last meetingin the first round of Clevelandin January.The winner is set to meet OmneyaAbdel Kawyin the quarter final. The World Open finalist has not been in top form this year and will look to turn things around here. She faces Malaysia’s Delia Arnold, the wild card.
Sermehas an equally difficult first round against long time rival RaneemEl Weleily. The Egyptian will be confident going into their match, knowing she has never lost to Serme. Madeline Perrywill be the likely quarter final opponent for one of these two. The world number four will face a qualifier in her first match.
All these players will also be wary of the danger that lurks in qualifying. Kiwi’s Joelle KingandJaclyn Hawkes,local starWee WernLowandEngland’sSarah Kippax, if they make it through, will not be underestimated.
With more money and crucial World Series points up for grabs, the tournament will be tougher than ever.
Current World Series Standings:
|9=||Annie Au||Hong Kong||15|
|9=||Jaclyn Hawkes||New Zealand||15|
|9=||Joelle King||New Zealand||15|
|9=||Low Wee Wern||Malaysia||15|