CIMB Singapore Masters
Curve Shopping Mall &
NSC, Bukit Jalil,
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Nicol David Masters Singapore
For A Fourth Successive Time
Malaysian squash star
Nicol David won her fourth successive CIMB Singapore
Women's Masters title on an all-glass court seen for the
first time at Kallang Leisure Park in Singapore
- but her English opponent Alison Waters can take
credit for having given the world number one her toughest
test in the final of the $53,500 WISPA World Tour
Top seed David, looking
for her fifth Tour title in a row this year, went onto the
court with a 14-0 career head-to-head record over her
In truth, Waters had her
chances and the first game was in many ways the decider.
With both players at their freshest, the game settled into a
battle of attrition with David conceding an early 5-2 lead,
giving up five straight points with uncharacteristic loose
With Waters 9-5 up, the
officials were called for a let decision which ended with
the point being replayed, and Nicol staved off disaster by
pushing the Londoner to 9-9. Waters had her first game point
at 10-9 which she failed to convert. And she went on to have
five more, not succeeding in winning any, as David found her
way to level off each one of them.
At 17-16, David got her
second chance, and closed the door. After a 27-minute
struggle, instead of being a game up, Waters was instead one
"That's why Nicol is the
World No1," said Waters after the 18-16, 11-9, 12-10 defeat.
"She just doesn't stop running and she plays those big
points just a little better."
Make no mistakes, the
results show a straight games win to David - but it was no
walk in the park. 9-9 in the second game, and 10-10 in the
third, gave Waters plenty of positives as she looks forward
to recording her first career win against the Malaysian: the
record now stands at no wins after 15 meetings!
"Each time I play her I
feel like I am getting a little closer," added the world
No4. "But Nicol's so good at retrieving, she is so fast and
gets to everything. You just have to play so many shots to
get a winner."
Commenting after the
game, WISPA President Natalie Grainger complimented
both players on a high quality match: "These girls are at
the top of their games. But Nicol's just a bit better than
the rest at the moment and Alison showed here today that she
can get to game points. She needs now to go and think about
how to go from 10 to 11, how to convert those chances when
As for Nicol, it was hard
work at the start, but she knew she was in control, helped
by a partisan crowd in Singapore. "It's great to play in
Asia with the crowd behind you. I was feeding off them
throughout the match and they helped to put that extra
spring into my step."
Bringing the tournament
to the people has been a great hit - the glass court is not
a new idea but it is certainly one that needed to be
repeated in Singapore. With S$300,000 invested in a
lease-to-buy deal for the glass court, squash fans can be
certain there would not be another 12-year absence before
the court is seen in public again.
Some 400 spectators
enjoyed the action this year, which also went out 'live' on
television across Southeast Asia. And Grainger sees the
potential for the event to grow.
"The reception this year
has been tremendous and the SSRA can certainly grow this
event," said the former world number one from the USA.
"Perhaps the success this year could see a bidding war from
the shopping malls in Singapore for the next edition. And I
understand there is a huge complex with a casino in town
which can certainly accommodate this event," Grainger said
with a twinkle in the eye.
The Marina Bay Sands
integrated resort hosted a glittering first class fencing
event just the night before, and they could certainly do
with a little bit of magic from the ladies. "Success
guaranteed," added an event spokesman.
click image for larger view
Panelists and Players
CIMB Malaysian Open
19-24 July, Kuala Lumpur, $53k
 Nicol David (Mas)
8-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-4 (42m)
Raneem El Weleily (Egy)
11-7, 11-5, 11-6
11-4, 11-6 (50m)
 Kasey Brown (Aus)
11-3, 12-14, 11-6, 11-7 (55m)
Jaclyn Hawkes (Nzl)
 Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy)
7-11, 11-7, 4-11, 11-9, 11-9 (46m)
[Q] Annie Au (Hkg)
11-9, 11-4 (54m)
 Madeline Perry (Irl)
12-10, 5-11, 11-1, 11-5 (36m)
[Q] Low Wee Wern (Mas)
Donna Urquhart (Aus)
11-7, 11-3, 6-11, 10-12, 11-8 (48m)
 Camille Serme (Fra)
9-11, 11-6 (43m)
11-4, 5-11, 11-5,
11-13, 11-4 (58m)
[Q] Rebecca Chiu (Hkg)
11-2, 11-6, 11-9 (26m)
 Alison Waters (Eng)
[Q] Delia Arnold (Mas)
8-11, 7-11, 11-2, 11-7, 11-2 (45m)
 Natalie Grainger (Usa)
11-5, 11-3, 11-7
Pamela Chua (Sin)
11-3, 11-2, 11-2 (18m)
 Rachael Grinham (Aus)
Annie Au (HKG) bt Line Hansen (DEN) 11-4, 9-11, 11-6, 11-9
Low Wee Wern (MAS) bt Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 11-5, 9-11,
12-14, 11-9, 11-8 (85m)
Delia Arnold (MAS) bt Aisling Blake (IRL) 13-11, 11-5,
4-11, 11-13, 14-12 (52m)
Rebecca Chiu (HKG) bt Joey Chan (HKG) 2-11, 11-9, 9-11,
11-2, 11-2 (40m)
Waters Upsets Grinham To Face
David In Singapore Final
Waters battled for 58 minutes to upset second-seeded
Australian Rachael Grinham in the semi-finals of the
CIMB Singapore Women's Masters to set up a clash with
three-time champion Nicol David, the favourite, in
the climax of the $53,500 WISPA World Tour Gold
squash event at Kallang Leisure Park in Singapore.
The streak stands at 15 -
that's the number of matches Nicol David has won in a
row in the Singapore Masters. And if the Malaysian
world No1 makes it 16 tomorrow, she would claim the fourth
title that her fans in Singapore would want her to do.
The 26-year-old from
Penang took on sixth seed Madeline Perry in their
first meeting since the 11 times Irish champion defeated her
for the first time at last year's British Open.
And David showed yet
again why she is the hardest player to beat on the WISPA
Tour by beating Perry in four games - coming through 11-7 in
the first game before dropping the second 11-3. A change of
tactics saw the title-holder regain control and win the next
two games comfortably, 11-4, 11-6.
Whereas her fans in
Singapore almost expect her to cakewalk her way past ANYONE,
the Malaysian knows better. And she treats every single
opponent with the respect they deserve, and therefore does
not let up even for a single minute.
"These girls are good,
and they will capitalise on any chances, so I have to keep
it tight and work the ball around the court consistently,"
said David, now in her 61st Tour final and aiming for her
20th consecutive match win of the year in the final.
"Especially with this point-a-rally scoring system, you
cannot take it easy at all."
Perry felt she could
repeat her British Open win: "I thought I had the
chance when I took that game. Even when Nicol slowed the
game down, I was in front and volleying, and able to get the
points. But in the next two games, she kept me to the back
of the court and that made things a lot harder.
"I'm pleased with how I
played here, I'm happy with my movement, and can head to the
Australian Open feeling positive about my squash,"
concluded the world No7 from Belfast.
One streak was broken
today when, for the first time since the tournament started
in 2007, there will not be a Grinham in the final. With
Natalie, the 2009 and 2007 finalist, now a proud mother of a
two-month old baby boy, it was left to older sister Rachael
to keep the streak going.
A semi-final appearance
was the best Rachael could manage, going down in five games
to England's Alison Waters. But the 33-year-old saw
plenty of positives despite the loss.
"I felt better here
compared to last week when I lost in the first round. It's
always tough against Alison and whenever I could get her out
of the 'T', I was in there," Grinham said. "I got a bit
excited in the fifth game, when for my shots too soon, and
after dropping a few quick points, things just spiralled out
As for Waters, she's glad
to be back to her best after two months on the sidelines
with tendinitis in her Achilles.
"I'm moving well again
and there were lots of retrieving in the game against
Rachael. I had match balls in the fourth game, and was in
control in the fifth. It's really good to get a tough match
to prepare for the final," said the third seed.
The 26-year-old Londoner
is enjoying the best year of her career, with two Tour title
wins from three final appearances - and has only lost two
matches, both to David.
But it will not be easy
for Waters, who has not beaten David in 14 career meetings
since December 2004. The pair met in the Singapore semis two
years ago - and in the Malaysian Open semi-finals
last week Kuala Lumpur, where David took it in four games
after a tough battle at the start.
Nicol David In Ominous Form
As Top Seeds Reach The Final Four
Top seed Nicol David
turned in a composed performance to despatch world No9
Kasey Brown 11-7, 11-5, 11-6 to reach the last four
of the CIMB Singapore Women's Masters, the $53,500
WISPA World Tour Gold squash event at Kallang
Leisure Park in Singapore.
The Malaysian world
number one stayed patient throughout the 40-minute
encounter, working long rallies to her advantage and making
her Australian opponent work just a little harder to keep
At times it was almost
brutal as David kept her mistakes to the minimum and never
allowed Brown to get comfortable in the four-side glass
court at Leisure Mall
Brown was magnanimous in
defeat: "Nicol is just super quick around the court. I had a
game plan in mind but didn't execute it properly. She wasn't
giving much away at all throughout the match, even when I
was trying to slow the game down.
"At times it felt like I
had to win the rallies several times over just to get a
point!" added the 24-year-old from New South Wales.
The victory sets up an
intriguing semi-final for David against Northern Ireland's
Madeline Perry, who ended Annie Au's Singapore
run 9-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-4.
Ten months ago, the
Penangite suffered one of her four defeats in 2009 to Perry
in the quarter-finals of the British Open.
But David is not about to
let memories of the 76-minute match in Manchester play on
her mind: "I bounced back quickly from that defeat and went
on to win the World Open right after that. Right now,
I'm feeling fit and am staying focused for the next match,"
The other semi-final will
be between second-seeded Rachael Grinham and
England's Alison Waters, the third seed.
Waters survived a third
game wobble to beat France's Camille Serme in four in
the first meeting between the two in 18 months. And eighth
seed Serme saw positives despite losing: "I have improved a
lot in the last year, and I always want to meet the
higher-ranked player to see how much I've closed the gap
Commenting on the match
with Londoner Waters, the Frenchwoman added: "I had a bad
start in game four, and that put a stop to my comeback."
And, whilst the first
three editions of the Singapore Masters final have
been won by David, they have invariably featured one of the
Grinham sisters. World No3 Rachael made sure that could
still happen after despatching WISPA President Natalie
Grainger in 20 minutes.
"It was never going to be
a long match with Natalie," said Grinham. "She always goes
for her shots and even if we went to five games it would be
Looking ahead to her
encounter with Waters, the 33-year-old Queenslander said:
"Alison creamed me in our last three or four matches, and
she's in pretty good form. So I'm in for another tough match
"I'm still getting back
to full match fitness having not played tournaments since
April, and lasted one match in Malaysia last week," added
the former world number one.
The Australian's quick
wins over Grainger, and Singapore's Pamela Chua in
round one, would hardly have given her the workout she
"Maybe I'll practice with
Nicol tomorrow morning seeing as Alison's likely to get her
hits with Perry!"
Au Stuns Omneya In Singapore
Hong Kong qualifier
Annie Au stunned Egypt's world No6 Omneya Abdel Kawy
in the biggest upset of the first round of the CIMB
Singapore Women's Masters, the $53,500 WISPA World
Tour Gold squash event at Kallang Leisure Park
The 21-year-old twice
came back from a game down to push the match to a fifth
game. In the decider, Au got herself to the brink of victory
at 10-6 before nerves took over. Fourth seed Abdel Kawy took
three straight points to narrow the score to 10-9 but that
was as close as the Egyptian got as Au took the winning
point to record her first victory over a top 10 player.
"It was Au's first
competitive meeting with the enigmatic player from Cairo,
and one which she did not wish for, given her dismayed
reaction last night after being drawn to face Omneya,"
commented an event spokesman.
"But that's all forgotten
now as the 2008 WISPA Young Player of the Year continues to
consolidate her position as Hong Kong's leading player, with
veteran Rebecca Chiu set to retire after November's
Asian Games in Guangzhou, China."
Offering a rare smile, Au
explained: "I was nervous in the first game and could not
catch Omneya's shots. But I told myself not to give up and
just concentrate and play a good game."
quarter-final assignment does not get easier - as she will
face Madeline Perry, the sixth seed from Ireland who
despatched Malaysia's Low Wee Wern in four games.
Hong Kong Squash
Association Head Coach Tony Choi is pleased with Au's
continued progress: "Annie's had a good lead-up before this
tournament with wins last month in Kuwait and France, so she
is physically and mentally in tune. There was really no
pressure on her facing a top ten player like Omneya and I'm
happy she managed to pull off the win."
No joy, though, for Chiu
as she went down tamely to England's third seed Alison
Waters in straight games, while second seed Rachael
Grinham ended the home challenge by outclassing
Singapore wildcard Pamela Chua.
For Chua, who is heading
back to California soon to resume her Mathematical and
Computational Studies at Stanford University, the 18-minute
workout emphasised the difference between her, a varsity
player, and Grinham, a full-time touring professional and a
former world number one and world champion.
"Rachael is very skilful
and has a wide array of shots," said Chua. "I found it hard
to work out where the next shot was coming from!"
Grinham, though, was
complimentary: "There were no easy points - Pamela was in
the rallies and I couldn't let up for a minute," said the
2007 World Open champion. "She moves and hits well
but she's got to play more of these matches to get used to
Natalie Grainger came through a dramatic 45-minute
battle with Malaysia's Delia Arnold. The 33-year-old
fifth seed fought back from two games down to win a match
that got a little testy towards to end.
"I haven't played that
much lately, so it was a matter of finding the right shots
and getting the fluidity back, and even adjusting to seeing
the ball early," said the US-based former world number one.
"I'm really pleased to be able to come back into the game
with a change of tactics, and simply hitting the ball a
Grainger will meet
Grinham next in a battle of the former world number ones.
The pick of the first
round matches saw France's Camille Serme taken to
five games by Australian Donna Urquhart. The stunning
match turned into a real battle of wills between two
supremely fit and highly athletic players.
World No10 Serme breezed
through the first two games before handing back the
advantage to a determined Urquhart, ranked eight places
below her. The Frenchwoman's concentration seemed to flit in
and out but she managed to stay focused long enough to win
11-8 in the fifth and set up a meeting with Waters.
Brown started proceedings at Leisure Park in Kallang
with a four-game win over trans-Tasman rival Jaclyn
Hawkes. And the name of her opponent was confirmed seven
matches later in the day's final tie featuring world No1
Nicol David against Egypt's Raneem El Weleily.
Nicol is the draw at this
annual tournament where she is adopted as a local by
Singaporean fans. And the distinguished Malaysian she gave
them a scare by dropping her first game 8-11 to El Weleily.
The 26-year-old from Penang duly sharpened her focus - and
her game - to motor through to the final eight.
Kong & Malaysia Share Qualifying Honours In Singapore
Players from Hong Kong and
Malaysia shared honours in the qualifying finals of the CIMB
Singapore Women's Masters - but it was Malaysian Low Wee Wern
who survived the longest clash to make the main draw of the $53,500
WISPA World Tour Gold event at Kallang Leisure Park in
For a second night in a row, Egypt's
Nour El Sherbini was involved in a five-game tussle, and though
she won many fans in Singapore, her campaign was halted by 20-year-old
Low Wee Wern. The 14-year-old former World Junior Champion drew
gasps from the fans with her audacious shot-making, but made crucial
errors on the big points and paid the price.
"All the games were so close," said
the young Egyptian after Wee Wern's 11-5, 9-11, 12-14, 11-9, 11-8 win in
85 minutes. "I felt I could win this one but took too much risk on the
big points. Matches like these can only make me improve more as a
As for Low, she credited her victory
to her ability to stay confident and steady - and earned a meeting with
Ireland's sixth seed Madeline Perry.
"This is one of the hardest matches
I've ever played," Low said her first encounter with El Sherbini. "I
told myself to be patient when I was two-sets-to-one down, and played
the crucial points a lot better than Nour."
made it two for two for Malaysia, edging a fractious encounter with
Ireland's Aisling Blake. The Malaysian number two took the first
two games but Blake fought back in the next two to force the decider.
In WISPA world rankings, these two
players are only three positions apart and the when the dust settled, it
was the higher-ranked Arnold that came through 13-11, 11-5, 4-11, 11-13,
14-12. The 24-year-old's first round opponent will be WISPA President
Natalie Grainger, the fifth seed.
An 11-4, 9-11, 11-6, 11-9 victory
over Denmark's Line Hansen earned Hong Kong's Annie Au a
first round draw against Egypt's fourth seed Omneya Abdel Kawy.
But in a later all-Hong Kong battle,
it was veteran Rebecca Chiu that triumphed over young star
Joey Chan. The business-like match was high on efficiency and low on
drama, with 31-year-old former Asian Games champion Chiu winning
2-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-2, 11-2.
The world No19 will have her hands
full against the tournament's third seed Alison Waters, England.