World number one Nicol David has won just about every major tournament going in squash in the last six year; 53 WISPA titles, three British Opens, five World Opens and Commonwealth Games Gold. However, an Australian Open title is something she doesn’t have to her name.
The Malaysian superstar will be making her debut at the event, which starts on 6th August in Australia’s capital, Canberra.
Thanks to the sponsors, the tournament has once again been upgraded in prize money and now boasts a prize fund of $60,000. It will be the third World Series event of the year and will feature 10 of the world’s top 20 players, as well as some of the young stars of the future. It will also be the first World Series event of the year to run along the PSA World Series.
David, aiming for her third World Series title in a row, will start her campaign against young Australian Samantha Davies, who will relish the experience of playing the world number one at home on the main show court. David’s projected second round opponent will be the winner of an intriguing encounter between New Zealand’s 16th seed Kylie Lindsay and England Junior no.1 Emily Whitlock, who recently reached the semi final of the World Junior Champs in Boston. 2008 Champion Annie Au will likely await David in the quarter final.
World number two Jenny Duncalf will return to Australia where she reached the semi finals last year. David’s closest rival on the tour will begin against a qualifier. She is set to do battle with Kasey Brown in the quarter finals, a rematch of the quarter final from last week’s Malaysian Open where Brown pushed Duncalf to five games. Brown will have to negotiate a tricky second round before this against former Aussie Natalie Grinham. The former world number two beat Brown in their last meeting in the Cayman Islands and is also the last person to beat David in Australia, in the 2006 Commonwealth Games semi final. Natalie opens against Aussie’s young star Melody Francis.
Natalie older sister Rachael Grinham is the third seed and is set in the top half of the draw. The Aussie world number three will open against Czech number one Lucie Fialova. She has tough quarter that also features compatriot Donna Urquhart, Malaysia’s Low Wee Wern and Indian star Dipika Pallikal.
The last quarter of the draw features two former champions. Defending champion Madeline Perry will be looking to find the same magic that saw her storm to the title last year. The world number four will face Malaysia’s Siti Munirah Jusoh in her opening match. Her expected quarter final opponent is New Zealand number one Joelle King. King won the title back in 2009 and will fancy her chances of reaching the semi finals after upsetting Perry last week in Malaysia. She opens against Swiss number one Gaby Huber.
With some of the top players not participating and important World Series points up for grabs, the competition in Canberra is sure to be fierce.
You can see live action from the quarter finals onwards at www.squashtv.com