No longer the dominant force as ‘Queen’ Nicol David is bundled out of the Hong Kong Squash Open
- Former world No 1 loses her second-round match against unheralded Tomlinson
- Nicol has won the Hong Kong Squash Open a record 10 times but made her quickest exit
For a player who has dominated the Hong Kong Squash Open like no one before her, it was a little sad to watch Malaysia idol Nicol David go out at the first hurdle.
David is one of the most famous players to ever grace the annual showpiece. With 10 straight Hong Kong Open titles under her belt in an incredible reign that ended in 2015, the eight-time world champion was not expected to lose so early at the Everbright Sun Hung Kai Hong Kong Squash Open – not for the undisputed queen of Hong Kong. But it seemed time waits for nobody.
David tried her best, but the 35-year-old couldn’t make it through, stumbling against England’s Millie Tomlinson, who posted a 12-10, 0-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-6 victory at the Squash Centre in Admiralty.
— Nicol Ann David (@NicolDavid) November 19, 2018
“Today I did what I could, but it is just not one of my days,” said David, one of Malaysia’s greatest-ever athletes, who won gold at the Jakarta Asian Games. “It’s disappointing but things do happen. We just have to learn.”
After receiving a bye in the first round, the world number 10 was expected to show her dominance against 26-year-old Tomlinson, who is ranked 26 in the world, at one of her favourite hunting grounds.
“She [Tomlinson] played well today and I could not focus consistently, so my confidence went up and down,” said David, whose previous worse result at the Open was a quarter-final appearance last year.
“She had nothing to lose and was going for everything. And she did not make mistakes in the last two games.”
— Nicol Ann David (@NicolDavid) November 18, 2018
David, who was world No 1 for a record 108 consecutive months beginning in August 2006, said she shouldn’t be written off just yet.
“It has been good after so many years and what’s nice is that I still feel good and fresh,” said David, who first turned professional in 2000. “I still want to play but maybe today I was expecting more from myself because I am in Hong Kong and want to do well here. You keep on learning.”
— HK Squash (@HKsquash) November 21, 2018
Also from Penang, David wished fellow Malaysian Lee Chong Wei well as both are top athletes from the same city.
“I haven’t seen him recently but I know he is back in training. It’s a good news,” she said of the badminton great. “He is amazing and also motivating. Lee is a fighter and knows exactly what he wants to do. I hope he can fully recover and get back into training.”
The former world number one male player has recovered from nose cancer and wants to get back into training to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
While David was bundled out of the second round, Hong Kong’s Joey Chan Ho-ling made it through her match after defeating Egypt’s Salma Hany in a 47-minute tussle. Chan won 9-11, 11-5, 11-8, 15-17, 11-4.
Chan is looking forward to playing in the glass court against another Egyptian, Yathreb Adel, in the round of 16.
“The quarter-finals will take place in the glass court and I have never played there before,” said Chan. “This is a big incentive and hopefully I can make it with the help of the home crowd.”
Hong Kong’s Yip Tsz-fung also survived his second-round match in the men’s competition, beating England’s George Parker in another marathon dogfight. He won 14-12, 7-11, 8-11, 11-5, 11-9 in a match that lasted 82 minutes.
One of Hong Kong’s top hopes, Max Lee Ho-yin, however, crashed out of the men’s competition after losing to Colombia’s Miguel Angel Rodriguez in another gruelling five-game battle. Rodriguez edged Lee, the Asian Games silver medallist, 6-11, 13-11, 6-11, 16-14, 11-8, in the first round.