David sees HK as perfect venue to make amends

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 November, 2007, 12:00am

World number one Nicol David has shrugged off her disappointing loss in the early stages of the World Open and is fully focused on claiming the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Open.

The 24-year-old Malaysian begins her defence of the prestigious title when she takes on Annelize Naude of the Netherlands at the Squash Centre tomorrow. The world's top 10 players, as well as home favourite Rebecca Chiu Wing-yin, the world number 13, feature in the HK$1.6 million tournament.

The event also has a top-class men's field, spearheaded by world number one Amr Shabana of Egypt.

David, who relinquished her hold on the World Open crown when she was surprisingly beaten 3-2 by New Zealander Shelley Kitchen in the second round in Madrid two weeks ago, remains the player to beat.

The Madrid defeat was the first time the Malaysian failed to make the quarter-finals on the women's tour since April 2004, a run of 36 tournaments.

'I did not play very well on that particular day but my opponent did and she took her chances,' said David, who has occupied the world number one spot since August last year.

'The international stage is very competitive and this can happen to any player in any tournament, but I was a bit ashamed that it happened to me and it was in the World Open. I have never lost my form this year as I believe I have been doing very well on the tour - except for the World Open. I am confident I will have a good tournament in Hong Kong.'

Last week, David won the Qatar Classic, defeating fifth seed Natalie Grainger of the US in the final.

David has fond memories of Hong Kong. She reached the semi-finals at the World Open for the first time in 2003, and clinched her first world title here two years later.

She won her first Hong Kong Open title last year when she defeated Tania Bailey of England in the final.

'I would not say Hong Kong is a lucky place for me, but the Hong Kong Open is always a tournament I look forward to playing in,' she said.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Max Lee Ho-yin upset world number 77 Sherif Kamel of Egypt 3-1 in the opening round of the men's qualifiers yesterday.

Lee, who ranks number 282, will have another tough battle today when he takes on Mohammad Reda, also from Egypt, who has a world ranking of 62, for a place in the main draw.