Malaysia’s seven-time women’s world champion Nicol David overcame a tough early challenge before seeing off plucky Egyptian teenager Yathreb Adel 11-9, 11-6, 11-3 in their World Championship first round clash in Cairo on Monday.
Yathreb, one of several outstanding Egyptian youngsters with hopes of succeeding the Malaysian legend one day, showed she has the skill to harbour such ambitions during a first game in which the 18-year-old led 8-6.
It required Nicol’s vast experience to extract a couple of important errors on vital points, after which the second and third games became progressively less difficult.
“It was very special to win that three-love,” Nicol claimed. “It was my first time against Yathreb, she’s a skilful player, so you have to expect anything. I'm pleased to get through like this.”
Low Wee Wern, a heroine of Malaysia’s record-breaking run into the world team final at Niagara Falls 10 days ago, made a wonderful recovery to avoid a startling let-down and a shock defeat.
Wee Wern, who scored a career-best win over world championship runner-up Nour El Sherbini in the team semi-finals, slipped to within four points of a first round exit against Nicolette Fernandes, the World No 21 from Guyana.
Nour, the fourth seed, was beaten 11-6, 12-10, 4-11, 15-13 by her 17-year-old Egyptian compatriot, Nouran Gohar, the world junior runner-up, who was more light-footed and mobile in conditions where movement was at an even higher premium than usual.
At 3-7 down in the fourth game and trailing two games to one, Wee Wern appeared to have no way back to a fresher and more enterprising opponent, especially as she also appeared to be suffering with an adductor problem which was a legacy of her world team heroics.
However at the age of 24, Wee Wern has been acquiring experience, and her ability to think clearly, keep calm, and produce a well-judged response carried her gradually to a 9-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-7, 11-2 victory.
“I was struggling with my movement,” she admitted. “And with Nicolette you know she’s going to be so fired up and dangerous. But I also knew she was getting tired, and that if I played my game she would start to find it difficult.
“I am not old, but I am getting older!” Wee Wern quipped. “I hardly play people younger than me now, and I am pleased I knew enough to make the right choices today.”
The seventh seeded Wee Wern’s ability to recover between matches may be seriously tested though, for her second round encounter today is against Joshana Chinappa, the in-form Indian national champion.
Laura Massaro, the titleholder from England, encountered similar problems while surviving an even tighter opening first round 11-3, 13-11, 8-11, 11-7 against another outstanding 18-year-old from Egypt, Mariam Metwally, a world junior semi-finalist.
Laura next plays Annie Au, the ninth seeded Hong Kong player, while Nicol faces Emily Whitlock of England.
World No 3 Raneem El Weleily only prevailed after squeezing through a combative first game in which she was struck above the eye by the racquet of Habiba Mohamed, the 15-year-old world junior champion, before conceding a worrying third game, and surviving only by 11-9, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7.
Joshana’s fellow Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Dipika Pallikal, made a great comeback to win 9-11, 10-12, 11-6, 11-4, 11-7 against Mexico’s Samantha Teran. AFP