Nicol relishes tournament of champions

London, Jan 17, 2014: Malaysian squash star Nicol David is set to make her long-awaited debut at this week’s JP Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York – and admits that competing in the Women’s Squash Association Gold event at Grand Central Terminal will be “the highlight of the year”.

David, the 30-year-old from Penang who has topped the world rankings since 2006, heads a star-studded field which features all but one of the top 20 women in the world. Following two days of qualifying, the women’s championship gets underway next Monday (20 January), leading to the final on Friday (24 January).

“The Tournament of Champions definitely is the highlight of the year and what better way to play my first tournament of the year than at Grand Central Station in New York City,” said David as she prepared to leave her Amsterdam base for New York.

“I’m really thrilled to be part of this tournament for the first time in my career and can’t wait to absorb the atmosphere that is in store for us. I’ve been to Grand Central just to visit the place during my stay in New York and it has such a buzz to it. I can’t imagine how the buzz is going to be as I step onto the glass court there. Can’t wait for to get going already.”

Top seed David meets a qualifier in the opening round before a likely quarter-final clash with fellow Penangite Low Wee Wern, the No8 seed. English opposition could then line-up for the favourite, with Alison Waters and Jenny Duncalf, the fourth and seventh seeds, respectively, also lying in the top half of the draw – and second seed Laura Massaro heading interest in the lower half of the draw.

Natalie Grinham could well represent the tournament’s ‘dark horse’. The Dutch number one is unseeded, but boasts an eight-match unbeaten run at Grand Central after winning the title in 2012 and 2013.

The world No 10 from Almere faces France’s No 5 seed Camille Serme, ranked two places higher, in the opening round. The winner will face either Ireland’s Madeline Perry or Egypt’s No 3 seed Raneem El Welily.

1st round draw:

[1] Nicol David (MAS) v Qualifier

[8] Low Wee Wern (MAS) v Latasha Khan (USA)

[4] Alison Waters (ENG) v Qualifier

[7] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) v Qualifier

[5] Camille Serme (FRA) v Natalie Grinham (NED)

[3] Raneem El Welily (EGY) v Madeline Perry (IRL)

[6] Joelle King (NZL) v Kasey Brown (AUS)

[2] Laura Massaro (ENG) v Qualifier

Qualifying draw – 1st round:

Dipika Pallikal (IND) v Emily Whitlock (ENG)

Annie Au (HKG) v Donna Urquhart (AUS)

Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v Sarah Kippax (ENG)

Amanda Sobhy (USA) v Cecelia Cortes (USA)

Line Hansen (DEN) v Sabrina Sobhy (USA)

Rachael Grinham (AUS) v Joey Chan (HKG)

Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v Olivia Blatchford (USA)

Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) v Fernanda Rocha (ARG). —- WSF

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