London, Nov 30, 2013: 18 years after winning her first junior international title there as a 12-year-old, Malaysia’s world number one Nicol David returns next week to Hong Kong where she is seeded to win her ninth successive title in the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open.
The WSA World Series Gold event – the last of the year – gets underway at the Hong Kong Squash Centre on 3 December after two days of qualifying, before moving onto an all-glass court at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre for the semi-finals on Saturday 7 December and finals on Sunday 8 December.
“Hong Kong has always played a big role in my squash career, whether it was in juniors or in WSA,” said the 30-year-old from Penang who boasts an unbeaten 40-match record in Hong Kong over the past decade. “I won my first international junior title here in the under-13’s and, having won my first World title here in 2005, Hong Kong has a special place in my heart and my life.
“It would be great, of course, to win a ninth title – but I’d like to just be prepared for the strong competition this year for now. Every year it gets more and more intense amongst the players and I certainly have to step up my game compared to the past years competing here.”
David’s last defeat in Hong Kong was in December 2003 – to England’s former world champion Cassie Jackman in the World Open semi-finals. Unseeded, the world top 20 newcomer made her breakthrough after defeating second seed Natalie Grainger, the previous year’s runner-up.
“It was the best experience of my career, beating Natalie – the world No2 and the winner of the Qatar Classic before that event,” continued David. “I couldn’t believe it at the time and to actually step on the glass court in 2003 in Hong Kong at my first World Open semis to play Cassie was such a dream – especially the set up on the Harbour front. A lot of memories along the harbour front for me!”
David already boasts 70 Tour titles – more than any other player in the past two decades – but an appearance in the 2013 Hong Kong Open final would see the Malaysian superstar equal Australian legend Sarah Fitz-Gerald’s 90 finals record.
“That’ll be a nice record to match and I would feel truly honoured to come close to any records Sarah has accomplished,” said the modest Malaysian, winner of a record seven World Open titles. “I personally hope I perform throughout the tournament and if I get that far then it really is a bonus!”
David begins her Hong Kong Open title defence against a qualifier, before a predicted last three rounds against English opposition: fifth seed Jenny Duncalf in the quarter-finals; No4 seed Alison Waters in the semis; before a final showdown with world No2 Laura Massaro in the final.
1st round draw:
 Nicol David (MAS) v Qualifier
 Camille Serme (FRA) v Emily Whitlock (ENG)
 Nicolette Fernandes (GUY) v Donna Urquhart (AUS)
 Jenny Duncalf (ENG) v Joey Chan (HKG)
 Alison Waters (ENG) v Qualifier
 Kasey Brown (AUS) v Qualifier
 Line Hansen (DEN) v Sarah Kippax (ENG)
 Natalie Grinham (NED) v Joshana Chinappa (IND)
 Madeline Perry (IRL) v Qualifier
 Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) v Siyoli Waters (RSA)
 Dipika Pallikal (IND) v Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
 Raneem El Weleily (EGY) v [WC] Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG)
 Low Wee Wern (MAS) v Qualifier
 Annie Au (HKG) v Qualifier
 Rachael Grinham (AUS) v Qualifier
 Laura Massaro (ENG) v Qualifier. —- WSF