CAIRO (AFP) – Malaysia’s seven-time women’s world squash champion Nicol David overcame a tough early challenge before seeing off plucky Egyptian teenager Yathreb Adel 11-9, 11-6, 11-3 in their world championships first round clash in Cairo on Monday.
Adel, one of several outstanding Egyptian youngsters with hopes of succeeding the Malaysian legend one day, showed she has the skill to harbour such ambitions during a first game in which the 18-year-old led 8-6.
It required David’s vast experience to extract a couple of important errors on vital points, after which the second and third games became progressively less difficult.
“It was very special to win that three-love,” David claimed.
“It was my first time against Yathreb: she’s a skilful player, so you have to expect anything. I’m pleased to get through like this.”
Later Laura Massaro, the titleholder from England, encountered similar problems while surviving an even tighter opening first round by 11-3, 13-11, 8-11, 11-7 against another outstanding 18-year-old from Egypt, Mariam Metwally, a world junior semi-finalist.
The world champion had to save a game ball at 11-10 in the second game, without which she might have sunk into serious trouble against an opponent who put together sequences of points with fluent attacks.
Massaro also showed a welcome willingness to pitch a creative short game into the tactical mix, to adapt to cooling evening conditions which made a deadening ball fall a little shorter.
Massaro next plays Annie Au, the ninth seeded Hong Kong player, while David faces Emily Whitlock, a surprise survivor from England.
Three seeds were beaten.
The most notable was 19-year-old Nour El Sherbini, the fourth seed, who was beaten 11-6, 12-10, 4-11, 15-13 by her 17-year-old compatriot, Nouran Gohar, the world junior runner-up, who was more light-footed mobile and mobile in conditions where movement was at an even higher premium than usual.
As if this did not do enough to advertise the extraordinary wealth of young Egyptian talent, world number three Raneem El Weleily only came through after squeezing through a combative first game in which she was struck above the eye by the racket of Habiba Mohamed, the 15-year-old world junior champion, before conceding a worrying third game, and surviving only by 11-9, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7.