RESULTS: Women's CIMB Singapore Squash Masters, Kallang Squash Centre, Singapore
 Nicol David (MAS) bt Rebecca Chiu (HKG) 9-3, 9-5, 9-3 (38m)
 Vicky Botwright (ENG) bt [Q] Line Hansen (DEN) 9-4, 9-3, 9-3 (28m)
 Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt [Q] Engy Kheirallah (EGY) 9-6, 9-6, 9-5 (48m)
 Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) bt [Q] Sharon Wee (MAS) 10-8, 9-5, 9-6 (36m)
 Jenny Duncalf (ENG) bt [Q] Tricia Chuah (MAS) 9-6, 9-1, 9-1 (27m)
 Tania Bailey (ENG) bt Shelley Kitchen (NZL) 9-5, 9-0, 9-0 (47m)
 Madeline Perry (IRL) bt Alison Waters (ENG) 9-2, 9-3, 9-2 (38m)
 Natalie Grinham (AUS) bt Joannah Yue (SIN) 9-2, 9-3, 9-5 (25m)
 Nicol David (MAS) bt  Vicky Botwright (ENG) 10-8, 9-0, 9-3 (44m)
 Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt  Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) 5-9, 9-5, 9-0, 7-9, 9-4 (68m)
 Tania Bailey (ENG) bt  Jenny Duncalf (ENG) 8-10, 9-3, 3-9, 9-1, 9-1 (84m)
 Natalie Grinham (AUS) bt  Madeline Perry (IRL) 9-5, 9-5, 9-2 (38m)
 Nicol David (MAS) bt  Rachael Grinham (AUS) 9-2, 9-2, 9-3 (23m)
 Natalie Grinham (AUS) bt  Tania Bailey (ENG) 9-6, 9-6, 9-1 (46m)
 Nicol David (MAS) bt  Natalie Grinham (AUS) 9-6, 9-5, 9-5 (54m)
Nicol David showed fans in Singapore just why she is the world squash number one with a fine display that was full of running and crafty shot-making, outlasting her closest rival Natalie Grinham 9-6, 9-5, 9-5 in 54 minutes in today's (Saturday) final to win the inaugural Women’s CIMB Singapore Masters at the Kallang Squash Centre in Singapore.
The straight games scoreline belied a battle of attrition where both players were not only matching physical strengths but mental agility. Natalie was no slouch, make no mistakes about that, but Nicol’s superior fitness and agility gave her the edge she needed to win the tournament.
It was all business for the two players from the word go. Natalie drew first blood, then went 3-0 up in the first game before Nicol got on the board. When Nicol tied the score at 3-3, Natalie changed the rhythm of the game by lofting the ball and slowing the game down. Evidently, she too believes that Nicol is at her best when playing fast and attacking. For a while, that tactic worked as Natalie took two points to lead 6-4.
But that was as far as she got, the hard work came undone when she gave away cheap points to allow Nicol back in, and the Malaysian proceeded to wrap up the game. For squash fans the 18-minute first game set the tone for the rest of the match.
Nicol started the second game where she left off in the first, streaking to a 4-0 lead. A well-placed winner even provoked a yell of frustration from Natalie. However, Natalie was not about to capitulate. Playing some clever boasts and flicks, and keeping the play to the front, she managed to close the score to 4-3. Again Nicol stepped up a gear, pulling to 7-3 in front, and closing out the game 9-5.
Two games down, Natalie needed something special to turn the match around – or maybe for Nicol to let up. But this was not to be her day as Nicol kept up the pressure and duly sealed the win.
Commenting on her play, Natalie said: "Nicol played really well, she didn’t make many errors and in the end I started making a few. She gets to a lot more balls than other people, but I was prepared to play longer rallies.
"I still have a bit of soreness in my Achilles, and it affected my explosiveness and push-off. I was a little frustrated with myself in the third set when I could feel the soreness. Playing Nicol you really need to be at your best, and I look forward to more matches with her," added the world No2 from Australia.
For Nicol, she acknowledged that playing Natalie was always going to be difficult. In her own words: "I really have to be mentally tough to play Natalie, I have to work hard and play long rallies to win the points. To start my season again with two wins from two tournaments is great for me. I will definitely be spending some of my prize money tonight!”
Asked about Natalie’s lofted ball tactics, Nicol commented: “You have to expect your opponent to mix things up and use whatever way possible to work the ball, so I had to be really disciplined and not try to do anything special in the air. You can’t do an attacking shot when the ball’s in the air like that so you have to be really patient.
“The key is to force the pressure back on your opponent and in the end Natalie started making a few mistakes. My focus was still up and down but I kept my rhythm and didn’t want to change anything or do anything special, I just wanted to stay tough and play my game and make her work hard.”
Two titles in seven days takes Nicol’s tally to 21 from 71 WISPA tournaments played, and sits her two tournament wins behind Natalie’s sister Rachael among the active list. Nicol’s next target is the Forexx Dutch Open from 30 August in Amsterdam, a city which both Natalie and Nicol can call home. Amsterdam is Nicol’s training base and she will have plenty of fans cheering her on there.
At the same time, Natalie’s husband and Dutch squash champion Tommy Berden will be organising the tournament, and she will be hoping for a change of fortunes. With both ladies seeded first and second, another Nicol-Natalie final could be on the cards in four weeks’ time.
"In Singapore, it is Nicol who emerged victor and the reception here has been tremendous, with the final attended by well over 500 squash fans who will surely be looking forward to the next big tournament to be held here," said event spokesman Philip Goh. "This week’s top action has certainly re-awakened interest in squash in this island republic and augurs well for more good things to come."
Issued by Howard Harding on behalf of WISPA
Women’s International Squash Players' Association
Tel: (+44) 1737-243333; Mobile: (+44) 7773-325130; Email: HowHard@aol.com
WISPA: Tel: (+44) 20 7222 1667; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
WSQ 3993 4 August 2007
photo Getty Images