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internationalSPORTgroup™ BRITISH OPEN – MANCHESTER 2009 WOMEN’S PREVIEW BY PAUL WALTERS

24/08/2009
Nicol David’s capture of her third British Open title in Liverpool last year saw the young Malaysian bursting with atonement and revenge after what she endured during the most prolonged brinkmanship a British Open final had seen when the world’s most prestigious squash championships was last staged in Manchester in 2007.
 
Revenge, because David lost her title to a resurgent Rachael Grinham, who then succeeded her as World Champion too.
 
Atonement, because in a 7-9 4-9 9-3 10-8 9-1 defeat, David had several agonising moments when the title seemed almost hers, only for it to slip gradually and treacherously away.
 
There was more agonising in a post-mortem in which she sought to comprehend how such unwanted drama could have occurred.
 
But great champions can't think like that. The mind turns disappointment into excuses, and being negative becomes corrosive. Better to analyse what might be learnt, to create remedies - and move on.
 
David’s impressive return to form in 2008 has proven beyond doubt that she has done just that and she remains the most dominate player on the Women’s World Tour.
 
Whilst Natalie Grainger is seeded to meet the Malaysian in this year's final, David is aware that Rachael Grinham, a fellow three time British Open champion, could pose a greater threat and she knows that focussing on any one rival can distract from multiple tasks in hand.
 
David has, she says, added things to her training to strengthen one or two areas.
“You just realise that you have to put up with whatever happens and be ready for anything,” she said. “My training is done and I just have to make sure everything in place.
 
It would be unfair not to regard Rachael Grinham as special too. A uniquely attractive player, she tenaciously created a big surprise in 2007 when many believed she could no longer do it. But following her return to prominence, more recent results during a further period of inconsistency suggest that she may need improvement.
 
Natalie Grainger is the only US seed in the main draw and 32-year-old who was born in Manchester, will be hoping to improve upon her previous appearances in the event which have never seen her progress beyond the semi-finals.
 
Alison Waters will lead domestic interest in this years women’s championship, ahead of three seeded English players, British National Champion Jenny Duncalf who is seeded five, and Laura Lengthorn-Massaro, seeded seven. However, all will be wary of compatriot Tania Bailey, particularly Duncalf who will face the former British Open finalist in her opening match.
 
The increasing popularity of squash around the globe is once again emphasised through the huge diversity of nationalities of this year’s entries with no fewer than thirteen countries being represented in the main draw and qualification.
 
However, Nicol David who has won all but one of the World Tour events that she has entered this year and who has been World No.1 for nearly four years, will be everyone’s overwhelming favourite to claim her fourth British Open title - a heroine not just in Malaysia but throughout world.