Nicol David regained her title in the Allam British Open Squash Championships after beating Nour El Sherbini. The Malaysian star took just three games to dispatch the giant-killing teenager, but conceded afterwards that she’d better get practising in order to stay at the top of the women’s game.
It was a nervy start for Sherbini but the sixteen-year-old settled in quickly, catching up with the early run of points made by David. Despite the daunting occasion, her shot play selection remained ambitious, as it had been all week, but the weight of the spectacle may have resulted in the Egyptian looking to end the points quickly rather than work the rallies. This resulted in a few errors, which David was happy to take, along with her steady rallies and deadly efficient front court attacks to take the first game.
Sherbini seemed more relaxed in the second. For a spell her lengths were tighter and her excellent short volleys were working well. She kept within three-points of her opponent until the midway stages of second, but her length began to fall slightly short and posed less of a threat as a result. A sustained period of pressure from David at the end forced loose balls which were picked off easily by the Malaysian.
The teenager continued her search for a threatening length that wouldn’t quite come. As David continued to impose, the Egyptian seemed less and less confident to attack, favouring the lob over her previously excellent drops. The world No1 was ever threatening, boasting short to force pressure and picking off any returns. Understandably, in her 22nd game of the competition, Sherbini’s movement began to look sluggish as the match wore on, and her speed to the front slowed. Inevitably it was the World Champion who closed out the third game to claim title number 61, her fourth British Open title and draw level with Rachael Grinham in the list of all-time title holders.
Gallant in defeat, the sixteen-year-old who defeated the fourth, fifth and seventh seeds on her way to the final, spoke after the match of her final experience. She said: “I don’t really know what happened. I just tried to play my own game, but she’s the world No1 and she’s so tough. Playing her, all my shots must be so good. I’m not sad though and I didn’t play badly. I’m very happy to have made the final. I lost today, but it’s okay. Maybe next year I can come back and do better.”
British Open winner Nicol David said afterwards: “I was so fired up for this final. She’s an amazing player and it wasn’t easy. I’ve got to make sure I go home and get practising to cope with the excellent players from Egypt and Asia coming through to challenge now. Sherbini is definitely up there with the top three in the world already. It’s nice to have the title back after losing it last time. I hate losing so it’s a great achievement.”