Nicol David set to challenge for fifth British Open squash title
World No1 shrugs off defeats and insists she is on track to challenge for a fifth British Open title
Nicol David has prefaced her bid for a fifth British Open squash title this week by reassuring her compatriots that the most successful career of the women's professional era is not on the wane.
That has been the response of some Malaysian commentators after David's two defeats on home soil this year, creating yet again an anxious backdrop to her attempt at a major title.
David suffered two defeats in the build-up to last year's World Open, bringing similar speculation about her decline.
Instead it was followed by some of her best performances yet as she extended her record of world titles to seven.
Now, despite allegations that she is in her twilight in her 30th year, David is confident of another positive response at the world's oldest tournament which begins in Hull, northern England, today.
Asked if people did not always understand her situation, David did not answer directly, but gave a fair description of what it is they may not understand.
"There are occasions where there is a loss. These things happen," she said.
"It's just important to take these losses and make them work for me.
"I learn a lot from them and use them for what is coming. I put more work into certain things I need to work on.
"If I don't pay attention to what happens, it will keep coming back. So I have looked at it and taken what I learned into other tournaments and have won - and now I will do the same.
"Last year it was a long season and I had one or two losses. But I worked on it and put everything together," David said. "These things happen. It all worked out.
"This time I've been coming into a busy new year, and have had two losses.
"Now at last though I have had a bit more time, to build and get my training in, to prepare for this."
Nevertheless the director general of Malaysia's National Sports Council, Seri Zolkples Embong, has suggested that, in David's 30th year, her training programme and the tournament schedule should be carefully re-evaluated.
Her coach Liz Irving responds by emphasising that trying to peak for major events has been an important part of David's plans for a long time.
Irving said David's decision not to play in the Asian championships at the start of this month in Islamabad, which cited security concerns, was made with an awareness of the value of rest and preparation for the British Open.
"We monitor everything to the next step, to ensure that she has a good preparation time," Irving said.
"Sometimes things go a bit wrong, but that is part of the journey. It will show that she realises what to do to put things right.
" She's really on track. She's been training really well. We periodise her training well. The formula works. She is good with rest and recovery."
David's closest rival is Laura Massaro, the second-seeded Englishwoman, who was the player who beat her twice in Malaysia this year.
Other contenders are expected to be Raneem El Weleily, the third-seeded Egyptian, and her compatriot Nour El Sherbini, who contested last year's final at the age of 16.