Nicol David comes back from brink of defeat to capture 8th world squash title

Nicol David regained the world title in her most exciting final, and with her most memorable performance yet, saving four match points in a row to overcome the third-seeded Egyptian Raneem el Weleily on Saturday.

David also extended her record of world titles to eight with her 5-11, 11-8, 7-11, 14-12, 11-5 win.

But she had to recover from a game and 2-6 down, from 6-10 down in the fourth game, and from el Weleily’s constantly dynamic attacks, fuelled by the energy from a noisy partisan home crowd.

During her second game crisis David worked her way patiently into the match. During the fourth game, when it seemed she must surely be beaten in a world final for the first time, she altered the emphasis of her game superbly.

If she saw a slight gap, she would risk pitching the ball in short with drops, volley drops, and trickle boasts off the sidewall – not normally frequent ingredients in her game – but ones which she had the courage to try now.

El Weleily still struggled hard after the disappointment of losing so great a chance, three of her match points disappearing as, under pressure, she volleyed the ball down.

She saved game points at 11-10 and 12-11 but once the match went to a fifth, the force was with David.

At the end she fell on the court with emotion, and then leant on a wall sobbing.

Later, though David performed the formalities with customary grace, the tears of joy and disbelief kept welling up like never before.

“I don’t know what to feel actually,” she said quietly afterwards.

“You work so hard and when the final plays out like this you don’t know what to do with yourself – but I am so very happy. There were moments when I thought it could be over, but I didn’t want it to end that way. I dug very deep, because I wanted it badly." - Nicol David

“Raneem is so strong, and I knew that if I didn’t do something about it she would take it. I wanted to make it happen, so, yes there was a change of emphasis in the way I played.

“It was quite difficult to do that, when Raneem is going for broke. It gives you a little less time to play. But I had to take time away from her too, and I found a way to do that.”

El Weleily was also in tears, but was comforted by Egypt’s minister of sport, Khaled Abdel Aziz, and acknowledged the surprising way in which David had rescued her title.

“There will be lots of positives to take from my performance,” she said. “I just won’t be taking them today, that’s all.

“I had to do something about what happened – and I didn’t. I can perhaps be champion in the future. But I will need to learn a lot,” the 25-year-old added.

David’s win meant she is the first player ever to lose the world title and regain it within one calendar year. She lost the title before her home crowd in Penang in March.

It followed last month’s achievement of remaining 100 consecutive months as world number one, a record never likely to be broken

It also suggested that at the age of 31 there could still be time remaining for her at the very top – a very significant factor if during the coming weeks squash earns a place in the 2020 Olympics. - AFP


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