David storms to 7th squash world final
GRAND CAYMAN, Cayman Islands (AFP) –
Nicol David continued to make nonsense of the idea that a bevy of young challengers might be closing the gap on her as she reached her seventh World Open final in eight years.
The six-time champion now looks odds on to extend her record of titles after an increasingly trampling semi-final win over Jenny Duncalf on Thursday in a repeat of last year’s world final in Rotterdam.
The Malaysian heroine’s 11-7, 11-4, 11-2 score-line against the sixth-seeded English woman hints at how she increased her control, initially by moving to the ball so fast and early that she denied Duncalf time to play her creative game.
David then found different ways to finish rallies as the match went on and as her confidence and rhythm grew.
It all emphasised just how at ease the champion has seemed at the Grand Cayman event — something crucial, given that bouts of tension have occasionally troubled her on big occasions.
David attributed her good mood partly to similarities between the island environment and her background.
“I was born on an island, Penang,” she said. “I love the beach and that’s why I am so relaxed.”
Her relaxed well-being showed itself with one between-the-legs volley which took her to 3-2 in the third game and elicited as loud a roar as last year’s gravity-defying dive at the same venue during the Cayman Islands Open.
That outrageous winner accelerated a sequence in which David took the last eleven points in row against a tiring opponent whose training opportunities have been limited by niggling injuries this year.
“I am very pleased to feel my game (coming) especially in the second game,” David said. “I was finding my feet in the first. I needed to win that and then it carried me through the second and third games better.
“When Jenny has time on the ball she’s deadly, so I needed to push a little extra to deny her that, and after that I had my chances.”
David now has a final with Laura Massaro, the third-seeded English woman who saved a match point to survive 5-11, 11-9, 12-14, 11-4, 13-11 against Raneem El Weleily, the gifted young second-seeded Egyptian who won three of their last four meetings.
El Weleily might have won again had she capitalised on an 8-6 final game lead but her langorously dangerous strokes were punctuated by moments when she seemed just a bit too relaxed.
Massaro by contrast was usually business-like. She was also thrillingly bold in her moment of greatest crisis, risking a low volley under pressure at match point down at 11-10 and guiding it for a full length winner.
Massaro has beaten David twice but not at all this year and she said it was “great” to reach her first world final.
That feeling may not help her to pull of an upset. Nor is it shared by her famously prolific opponent.
“It’s always a challenge preparing for a World Open final,” David said, when asked if it got easier with time. “It’s always a different situation and a different place, and a different opponent.
“I am just feeding off everything which comes my way. You work towards this in all that you do and then you have to go out and give it all you’ve got.
“You just have to stay on top of things and make sure you do not let up. I feel I’m ready.”