Sunday October 14, 2012
Nicol edges Raneem for 63rd WSA title
By KNG ZHENG GUAN
PETALING JAYA: World No. 1 Nicol David (pic) rubber-stamped her status as the best womenís squash player in the world by beating Egyptís Raneem El Weleily to nail her first US Open on Friday.
It was also sweet revenge for Nicol as she carved out a 14-12, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7 win in 45 minutes.
The 29-year-old Penangite had lost to Weleily last month in the Malaysian Open final, leading to speculations that she could be on a downward spiral.
Memories of a disastrous September Ė in which Nicol also lost in the quarter-finals of the Carol Weymuller Open Ė now seemed a distanced thing of the past as she picked up the last remaining major squash title in convincing style.
This first US Open win was also Nicolís 63rd Womenís Squash Association (WSA) title and eclipsed Sarah Fitz-Geraldís record of 62 titles.
At Philadelphia, Nicol was always sharper and managed to take the first set 14-12 despite the second seeded Weleily playing equally well.
Weleily, however, came back strongly with some beautiful drops to take the second set 11-8 and appeared to put Nicol into trouble again by surging to a 6-2 lead in the third set.
A day earlier, Nicol displayed the determined side of her game by winning 10 straight points against Kiwi Joelle King in the semi-finals. Yesterday, she played with the same nerves of steel to take eight consecutive points to turn the tide around.
From then on it was one-way traffic as Nicol eventually sealed the title after Weleily racked up far too many unforced errors.
ďI just canít believe that I have won it,Ē said a delighted Nicol.
ďI keep thinking that I should still be out there running after Raneemís dropshots like Iíve been doing all night. When she gets on a roll like she did in the third set, she can score six points before you can even move out of the ĎTí.
ďBut I managed to get my act together, become more positive and stronger on my shots and played my game, not hers.
ďIt feels really fantastic to be the US Open champion and next I just hope that we can get into the Olympics. If we do, Iíll make sure Iíll be there even if I have to turn up with my walking stick,Ē joked Nicol.
The six-time world champion will return to her Amsterdam base before flying off to Shanghai for the China Open from Oct 23-28.
Meanwhile, in the menís event, the extremely talented Ramy Ashour of Egypt was also on top of his game to beat Franceís Gregory Gaultier 11-4, 11-9, 11-9 for his first US Open title as well.
ďIíve lost in this final three years ago so to win now against a great player like Greg feels quite unbelievable,Ē said the 25-year-old Ashour.