Updated: Monday, 12 May 2014 09:13 | By Agence France-Presse

From hell to Hull for squash star David

Nicol David could hardly be more fortunate than to have the British Open as her restart event this week after the trauma of losing her world title in front of her home crowd at Penang last month.


From hell to Hull for squash star David

Nicol David of Malaysia (R) returns a shot against Egypt's Nour El Sherbini during their CIMB Women's World Championship semi-final match at the Spice Arena on March 22, 2014 in Georgetown, Malaysia

The venerable 92-year-old tournament is one of few which may not feel anti-climactic by comparison, and one of fewer still in which the pressure upon David is reduced.

For once she is not the titleholder, which may help her look forward to a possible showdown with Laura Massaro, the Englishwoman who beat her in last year's final and became her successor as world champion.

Of course the famous Malaysian has been world number one for nearly eight years and therefore remains the top seed, and the draw does indeed suggest she should meet Massaro in Sunday's final.

That would not only give David the earliest possible opportunity of some kind of atonement, but perhaps create a rarity of more demands being heaped upon her opponent than upon her.

Massaro lives only 120 miles from the Yorkshire venue, which should attract a noisy home crowd craving a home champion who brings them more success. 

No-one knows better than David how that can feel.     

"It’s great that the pressure is not on me this time," she said happily. "I can probably enjoy myself more, and enjoy the game more."

How quickly David recovers from failing to win an eighth world title which others unwisely regarded as her destiny may depend on her attitude to what has been perhaps her most painful setback. 

It is evident that she has been paying attention to it.

"Losses will always happen," David said. "It is about how you manage them for the next time. At this level, there is little room to slip up. Things will not go your way every time."

David may have tried to do too much in Penang -- her PR schedule was draining.

Now it is a matter of being "a bit clearer" in her head, she says, and of being honest, and moving on. She has attempted this by paying extra attention to detail.

"When it doesn't go your way, you make things more consistent and more refined with everything you do," she said after her de-brief with long-time coach Liz Irving. 

"I trained really hard at the beginning of the year, and leading up to the worlds. I can benefit from that, if I keep building on it."

Massaro too has been working on a mindset to cope with the pressure, which for her may reach new levels. 

"I do see myself as defending champion," she acknowledged.

"But my achievement in winning the British Open is amazing. I didn't think I would achieve that. I have that title under my belt, which a lot of people don't have.

"So in some ways the pressure is off. It's nice not to have pressure, but I want to defend the title and do as well as I possibly can."

"At the same time I am number two and she (Nicol David) is number one, so she will be favourite. So all the expectation will be on her."

The women's event begins on Tuesday.

Seeds: 1. Nicol David (MAS); 2. Laura Massaro (ENG); 3. Raneem El Weleily (EGY); 4. Joelle King (NZL); 5. Alison Waters (ENG); 6. Camille Serme (FRA); 7, Low Wee Wern (MAS); 8. Madeline Perry (IRL).

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