Wednesday March 6, 2013
Intriguing battle looms between Nicol and Raneem
By KNG ZHENG GUAN
PETALING JAYA: An intriguing rematch between world No. 1 Nicol David and Egypt’s Raneem El Weleily is on the cards in the CIMB KL Open squash championships, which will be held at Bukit Jalil from March 26-31.
The 29-year-old Nicol has been in her element in the past year – winning eight titles, including an unparalleled seventh World Championship title.
She has started the year on a bright note too, clinching the World Series Finals in January.
But her good run came to an end at the Cleveland Classic in the United States when she lost to world No. 2 Raneem in five close sets in the final.
The Penangite has not competed since and – with an extended break to focus on training – she’ll be fresh and fired up to win a ninth consecutive KL Open title.
It’ll also make up for the early season loss to Raneem as well as the shocking Malaysian Open final defeat (also to the Egyptian) last September.
Despite receiving a relatively easy first round draw against a qualifier, Nicol will have her work cut out for her as she’ll face several tricky opponents en route to the final.
Her second round opponent is likely to be world No. 14 Omneya Abdel Kawy of Egypt, with a potential last-eight clash against old rival Jenny Duncalf of England.
Barring any upsets, Nicol will face either world No. 3 Laura Massaro of England or team-mate and world No. 6 Low Wee Wern in the semi-finals.
The talented Raneem, who faces national No. 3 Delia Arnold in the first round, has also been handed a tough draw, with the likes of New Zealand’s Joelle King, France’s Camille Serme, England’s Alison Waters and compatriot Nour El Sherbini in her half of the draw.
In the men’s event, national No. 1 Ong Beng Hee and national No. 3 Mohd Asyraf Azan lead the Malaysian challenge. Both, though, face daunting first round matches.
The 33-year-old Beng Hee is drawn to meet defending champion and third seed Omar Mosaad of Egypt while Asyraf will face Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller.