CAIRO (AFP) – World number one Nicol David reached her eighth world final after a rare ordeal on Friday, coming back from two games to one down to defeat Egypt’s Omneya Kawy 11-9, 9-11, 8-11, 11-5, 11-5.
It was a mental triumph for David with the cool court perfect for Kawy’s shot-making brilliance, the atmosphere becoming more frenzied with every winner the home heroine struck, and at 3-3 in the fourth game the top seed was in plenty of difficulty.
It was then that David constructed a run of six points which changed the character of the match.
Her patient rallying, clever containment, and unflagging court coverage increasingly taxed Kawy’s physical resources and elicited more errors, and once David had her opponent on the hook she never let her off.
“I’m really pleased to come through 3-2 (in games) against a really sharp, in-form Omneya who was composed throughout the match,” said David.
“I have played her many times, and sometimes it goes after a while,” she added, referring to Kawy’s stamina in lengthy matches. “But she didn’t let it go.
“She thrives on confidence and so for me to come back from 2-1 down was pleasing. I didn’t want to let her get in there in the fourth game,” David emphasised.
“It was a great atmosphere. But from then on I played with more purpose with my shots and she attempted a few things which were out of reach, and made a few unforced errors.
“So I used that to push on through. I had to bring my level up, and I did. I’m really happy with that.”
In the final David may have to endure another trial by an excited home crowd and a talented Egyptian.
This time it will be an even more dangerous opponent, the third-seeded Raneem el Weleily, who also showed a wide range of shot-making brilliance while beating the surprise semi-finalist, Alison Waters, 11-6, 11-9, 9-11, 11-5.
It has taken a long time for el Weleily to reach her first final. Though she is only 25 years old she is playing in her 13th World Championship, and this was her third semi-final.
But she handled the pressure of expectations superbly, pegging down her wandering mind better than usual, except for a spell in the third when she drifted to 3-10 down, won six points in a row, and lost that game anyway.
“I was too eager to win,” el Weleily said. “That is no help. It is not possible to win like that. But even though winning those six points did not win me the third game at least it got my mind back.
“I shall being playing my first world final, in my home town, and before my home crowd – and somehow I have to handle it as if it were just another match.”