New York, Jan 25, 2014: World number one Nicol David claimed her first J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions title with a resounding 11-4, 13 -11, 11-8 victory over world No 2 Laura Massaro on the iconic glass court in Grand Central Terminal in New York.
“The ToC is huge,” said the Malaysian superstar after the triumph over her English rival in the climax of the Women’s Squash Association (WSA) Gold event. “There is something in the air here. I get goose bumps every time I walk into Grand Central.”
There was a buzz and eager sense of anticipation among the crowd as they took their seats under the majestic chandeliers in Vanderbilt Hall for the women’s final. This was the first time the most dominant player in women’s squash over the past seven years had competed in the Tournament of Champions and the first time in a decade that the two top players in the sport would contest the final.
“In that first game, both of us were figuring out how the ball was going to play this evening,” David said. “The ball got faster as we were playing, and I was able to play some good, low attacking shots.”
In what seemed like the blink of an eye, the 30-year-old from Penang had notched the first game, 11-3.
Massaro was the attacker at the start of the second game. After getting coaching advice from her husband Danny, the English No1 took a 7-2 lead by playing more aggressively and moving up in the court. Just as it looked as if Massaro was well on her way to levelling the match, David dug in and began chipping away at the second seed’s lead.
“As soon as Nicol’s back in the game at all, she’s like a dog with a bone,” said 30-year-old Massaro, the only player on the current Tour who has beaten David five times. “She doesn’t let go.”
The seven-time world champion reeled off six straight points to move ahead 8-7. Massaro evened the score at eight-all. At 9-10, Massaro saved a game ball, but David converted the next game ball opportunity to open up a two-game lead.
“I just kept telling myself, ‘keep going, keep going, keep going’,” said David about her come-from-behind second game win.
At the start of the third, the players exchanged points until David surged ahead, 7-4. Massaro fought back to 6-7 and then saved two match balls when her opponent took a 10-6 lead. But the top seed was not to be denied the one major title missing from her collection, and closed out the championship 11-8 in the third game.
“I wanted this title badly,” said David. After the match, she basked in the glow of the majestic chandeliers and the appreciation of a squash-savvy crowd who savoured the opportunity to see this great champion in action, up close, on the ToC glass court.
Even though she now has 72 WSA titles to her name and has been at the top of the rankings for 90 consecutive months, the 2014 ToC champion is still enthralled with her sport: “I have learned so much from this sport, and I am continuing to learn,” said David.
When asked her most important lesson, David replied: “How to trust myself and do what I am capable of.”
The fortunate spectators at the 2014 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions were thrilled to witness that capability as Nicol David did what she does better than anyone else in the world – win yet another squash championship.
Final:  Nicol David (MAS) bt  Laura Massaro (ENG) 11-4, 13-11, 11-8 (46m). —- WSF
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