Malaysian squash superstar and World No. 1 Nicol David etched her name in sports history by outplaying long-time rival and world No. 2 Jenny Duncalf of England to become the first woman player to win a record six world championship squash titles.
Nicol played superbly to a straight games victory, winning 11-2, 11-5, 11-0 in just 29 minutes, at the Luxor Theatre in Rotterdam of Netherlands on Sunday.
It was her sixth appearance in the final of the world championships and she has won all now.
The Amsterdam-based Malaysian’s outstanding speed, immaculate driving, incisive front court play, and an almost error-free performance culminated in her best performance in a world final.
Duncalf, though in excellent form, was unable to halt the record-breaker, even though she kept calm, made relatively few unforced errors herself, and tried to mix up the rallies.
The frustration of coping with David’s onslaught was shown when Duncalf once kicked the ball away, after she had launched a brilliant winning volley return of serve to score her first point in the second game.
“I am speechless,” a tearful David said, when she was interviewed on court about a minute after her history-making triumph, seemingly overwhelmed by the enormity of her achievement.
When she rediscovered her words, David added, self-deprecatingly: “I am just glad that I can do something to pay back the nation for what it has done for me.”
By contrast her coach, Liz Irving, the Amsterdam-based Australian, was emphatic about what David had achieved.
“It was without doubt the best performance I have seen from her,” said Irving.
“That was as near to perfect as you will get.”
David was five points ahead before Duncalf could score at all, won 11 of the first 13 rallies with frightening speed, and hurtled through the third game without losing a rally.
In between Duncalf did enough to show what a streak of lightning David can be, and how much more complete a player she has become since her first world title in Hong Kong in 2005.
When Duncalf tried to play her way into the match by keeping the ball deep, the effect was to make the rallies longer before she lost the point.
When she played short, using he skill with volleys, drops and angles, David reached everything, and the effect was even more spectacular.
At 7-3 in the second game Duncalf had most of the court into which to make a kill, and struck it almost perfectly for the second bounce to land within inches of the back wall – only for David to retrieve that as well.
Duncalf managed two more points after that.
David opened up her complete repertoire in the third game, revealing a skill with volleying and a deft touch in the front court, as well as an ability to mix the short and the long games which may have been beyond her when she first arrived at the top.
“It was my best performance, without doubt,” she later agreed.
“I didn’t expect anything. I wanted this so badly, but it was a whole different experience out there this time.
“Everything just came together, and at the right time. It was at another level. It was a World Open final, and it was the world title and I didn’t want anyone to touch that trophy.
“I am so elated. I can’t remember the match because I was so focussed. But I saw everything early and felt strong. I felt solid and I just didn’t want to give my opponent anything.”
Squash learns next year whether it is at last successful in getting into the Olympic Games, and David, a superstar through much of Asia and the most cosmopolitan of competitors, is one of its most persuasive ingredients.
“The world title is so huge for me, but even so I would trade all of my world titles for an Olympic gold medal,” she said.
The 28-year-old Malaysian is the first Women’s International Squash Players Association (Wispa) player to win six world titles, since the inception of the tournament in 1976. She surpassed the record of five won by herself and Australian Sarah Fitz-gerald who sometimes trains and practises with David.
Nicol, who turned pro in 2000, won her other world titles in Hong Kong (2005), Belfast (2006), Manchester (2008), Amsterdam (2009) and Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt last year.
Nicol is undoubtedly Malaysia’s best sportsperson ever!
Congratulations, Nicol! The whole Malaysia basks in your pride!