Squash: Nicol David's world title again after titanic fight

CAIRO (AFP) - Nicol David regained the world title in her most exciting final, and with her most memorable performance yet, saving four match points in a row to overcome third-seeded Egyptian Raneem el Weleily on Saturday.

The 31-year-old Malaysian also extended her record of world titles to eight with a 5-11, 11-8, 7-11, 14-12, 11-5 win.

But she had to recover from a game and 2-6 down, from 6-10 down in the fourth game, and from her opponent's constantly dynamic attacks, fuelled by the energy from a noisy partisan home crowd.

During her game crisis, David worked her way patiently into the match.

During the fourth game, when it seemed she must surely be beaten, she altered the emphasis of her game superbly.

If she saw a slight gap, she would risk pitching the ball in short with drops, volley drops and trickle boasts off the side wall - not normally frequent ingredients in her game - but ones which she had the courage to try now.

El Weleily still struggled hard after the disappointment of losing so great a chance, with three of her match points disappearing as, under pressure, she volleyed the ball down. She saved game points at 11-10 and 12-11.

But once the match went to a fifth, the force was with David.

At the end, she fell on the court with emotion and then leant on a wall sobbing.

Later, though she performed the formalities with customary grace, the tears of joy and disbelief kept welling up like never before, and bringing catches to her words.

"I don't know what to feel actually," she said.

"You work so hard and when the final plays out like this, you don't know what to do with yourself - but I am so very happy.

"There were moments when I thought it could be over but I didn't want it to end that way.

"Raneem is so strong and I knew that if I didn't do something about it, she would take it.

"I wanted to make it happen so, yes, there was a change of emphasis in the way I played.

"It was quite difficult to do that when Raneem is going for broke. It gives you a little less time to play. But I had to take time away from her too and I found a way to do that."

David's win means she is the first player to lose the world title and regain it within one calendar year. She lost in the semi-finals before her home crowd in Penang in March.

It followed last month's feat of remaining 100 consecutive months as world No. 1.