Nicol David quashes retirement talk

Nicol David of Malaysia being stretched by Egypt's Nour El Sherbini at the PSA Women's World Championships in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday. The former world No. 1 lost the quarter-final clash.
Nicol David of Malaysia being stretched by Egypt's Nour El Sherbini at the PSA Women's World Championships in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday. The former world No. 1 lost the quarter-final clash.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

KUALA LUMPUR • Squash great Nicol David has quickly banished any suggestions of retirement after being dethroned as world champion on Thursday - in a further sign that her unparalleled dominance of the sport has ended.

The second-seeded Malaysian, vying for a ninth world title, was defeated in the PSA World Championships quarter-finals in Kuala Lumpur by fifth-seeded Nour El Sherbini of Egypt.

Her championship defence on home soil had been closely scrutinised following a dip in form that saw her phenomenal nine-year reign as world No. 1 broken last September.

"Disappointed - but not even close to retirement," the 32-year-old tweeted after her loss.

David has already secured her place in squash history as one of the sport's giants, using her lightning quickness and unrivalled court sense to win just about everything worth winning, including a record eight world championships from 2005 to 2014.

But she hinted this week that her era of dominance was ending, admitting she was focused more on tightening up her game than recapturing the top ranking.

"I am definitely going to be fighting for the next (world championship), for sure," said David, who has slipped to world No. 5.

"My body is good, I'm feeling really strong and it's now really fine-tuning a few things, adjusting and adding to my game."

David is Malaysia's most accomplished sports star and faced sky-high expectations from an adoring hometown crowd.

In a mark of her stature in Malaysia, her matches this week were played in an arena bearing her name.

She had looked solid in the tournament before losing decisively to El Sherbini 12-14, 11-4, 3-11, 7-11 at the Nicol David Arena.

Egged on by the crowd, she later admitted that she pushed too hard, too early and dropped the first game, sealing her fate.

David had been seeking her first world championship on home soil after falling short in Malaysia on two previous attempts.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 30, 2016, with the headline 'Nicol David quashes retirement talk'. Print Edition | Subscribe