Nicol David aiming to add another Hong Kong squash title to her collection
Dominant Malaysian has lost count of how many titles she has
Nicol David has won so many times in Hong Kong she is past the stage of keeping count.
All that matters for the world number one is to look ahead and win the next big one and this week the target is to add another Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open title to an already overflowing mantelpiece.
"People keep counting for me," she grinned at last night's reception to welcome the world's top men's and women's professionals, when asked if she is out to win her eighth successive Hong Kong crown.
Last year the headlines were all about "Nicol in seventh heaven". It would need no stretch of the imagination to come up with something involving the number eight, especially in a town where that numeral is revered.
"I'm just happy to be back. This place has given me so many fond memories. I won my first international junior title here in the Under-13s. I won my first world title here [in 2005]. And is it seven Hong Kong Opens?" smiled the 30-year-old David.
Standing in the way of an eighth is England's world No 2 Laura Massaro, one of the few players to defeat her this year. And it didn't come any bigger than at the British Open in May where Massaro beat David in the final.
"But since then, Nicol has avenged that loss, beating me at the US Open in October. Hopefully I can go all the way into the final and get the chance to beat her again and finish my year on a high," said Massaro. "I have never won the Hong Kong title and this is my seventh year of trying."
Massaro, the second seed, will be in action on Tuesday, taking on a qualifier in the first round at the Hong Kong Squash Centre. David gets into the fray on Wednesday.
Hong Kong will have two representatives in the women's 32-strong draw - Annie Au Wing-chi plays a qualifier on Tuesday, while Joey Chan Ho-ling comes up against fifth seed Jenny Duncalf of England on Wednesday.
Egypt's world No 1 and defending Hong Kong champion Ramy Ashour headlines the men's field and will face a strong challenge from the likes of England's James Wilstrop - whom he beat in the final on a glass court outdoors in Tsim Sha Tsui last year - Frenchman Gregory Gaultier, seeded second, and world champion Nick Matthew of England.
Meanwhile, HK's Max Lee Ho-yin beat Andrew Wagih Shoukry of Egypt yesterday to qualify for the main draw.