Friday, February 3, 2012

Nicol tames nemesis Massaro to lift Cleveland Classic title

Unshakeable: Nicol David held on to
the world No. 1 spot for the 67th
consecutive month.

PETALING JAYA: Squash queen Nicol David continued her fine start to the year by overcoming nemesis Laura Massaro 7-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-8 to lift the US$50,000 Cleveland Classic in Ohio on Wednesday.

Nicol was the favourite to win the title for the first time after demolishing fourth seed Madeline Perry of Ireland in the semi-finals. But it was never going to be easy against Massaro, who had upset Nicol in this tournament last year.

The hard-hitting Englishwoman got off to a blistering start, taking a 6-0 lead before eventually winning the first set 11-7.

However, Nicol, who is known for her never-say-die attitude, upped the tempo in the second set, taking a 3-0 lead before Massaro drew level. It was neck-and-neck until Nicol finally nailed it 12-10.

Nicol easily won the third set 11-7 and took a commanding 7-1 lead in the fourth. But Massaro refused to concede and narrowed the score to 9-7. Nicol, however, regained control to wrap up the match in 57 minutes.

It was the 28-year-old Penangite’s second consecutive win over Massaro this year following the World Series Finals. It was also her fifth straight title after a shock quarter-final defeat to Kasey Brown in the US Open last October.

Nicol stretched her unassailable lead at the top of the world rankings, holding onto the No. 1 spot for the 67th consecutive month, and is poised for another year of dominance.

Meanwhile, national No. 4 Siti Munirah Jusoh achieved a career best ranking, climbing four spots to No. 39 to break into the top 40 for the first time, following her maiden title win at the NSC Series No. 2 last month.

The evergreen Ong Beng Hee reclaimed his position as the men’s national No. 2 after his sensational victory in the Motor City Open in Detroit earlier this week. Beng Hee climbed 10 rungs to No. 24 in the world to overtake Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan, who has dropped to No. 36 following two poor performances in January.

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