Malaysian squash superstar Nicol David will make her Australian Open debut after confirming she would be travelling to Canberra in August. David, who has been world number one since August 2006, has won just about every major tournament in a glittering career.
The 27-year-old will be hot favourite to add the Australian Open to a trophy cabinet that already includes Commonwealth Games gold, five World Opens and three British Opens.
David, who will be coming to Canberra with her long time coach, former Australian great Liz Irving, hasn’t played in Australia since the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
In an ominous sign for her opponents, the last time she was in Canberra was in 1999, when she won the Australian Junior Championship.
“I’m very excited to have this opportunity to play in this tournament for the first time, especially knowing the prestige the Australian Open has in the squash world and squash history,” David said. “I’m looking forward to giving it a good go there for this year’s Australian Open.”
David said having Irving alongside her would give her a big advantage.
“Liz has always been amongst the best Australian women squash players and played many Australian Opens,” she said.
“Having her with me will give me a lot of positive reinforcements coming into Canberra.”
“This Australian Open will be one of the highlights for me this year and I’m glad that Squash Australia has brought this event back for both the men and women.”
Joining David in the top quality field are six former champions, all of whom are ranked in the top 20 in the world.
Last year’s champion, Madeline Perry of Northern Ireland, will be back to defend her title, while Kasey Brown (2006 champion), Annie Au (2008) and Joelle King (2009) will also play.
And in a significant coup, Toowoomba’s Grinham sisters Rachael and Natalie, will be playing the Australian Open together for the first time since Natalie won the title in 2004.
Rachael, who won the following year, said Natalie had made great progress since she came back to the game after giving birth to her first child last year.
“She’s made a pretty remarkable comeback,” Rachael said.
“A big factor of Natalie’s game is her movement, and she’s moving just as well now as when she was at her peak, and it’s not even a year after having the baby.”
The Australian Open will be held on the all-glass court at Canberra’s Royal Theatre from August 8-14.