Liz Irving, coach of former World No.1 Nicol David, has said that she is confident that the Malaysian superstar will be able to regain her place at the top of the Women's World Rankings.
David's unprecedented 109 month reign as the World No.1 came to an end last month at the hands of Raneem El Welily but Irving admits that her dethronement didn't come as a surprise.
“I think she was expecting it,” said Irving to BBC Sport.
“Being World No.1 for as long as she has is incredible. Her focus on the job at hand has been tremendous and I know that she is extremely hungry to get back there. Of course she likes to be at the top of the tree, don't get me wrong, but she's certainly been very driven to work exceptionally hard over the last two or three months anyway knowing full well that this was in the background.”
Irving, herself a former World No.2, paid tribute to David's determination and insists that the 79-time PSA World Tour title winner has the character to overcame adversity.
“It was just incredible [topping the World Rankings for over nine years],” she said.
“I have been on the whole journey with her and she is just a tremendous athlete. Her dedication, her drive and her discipline is just incredible. She's definitely exceeded all expectations.
“Certainly when we started working together, never in a million years would I have dreamt that she would have gone this far as long as she has.”
David's quest to reclaim her place at the summit of the Women's game didn't get off to the most auspicious of starts as she was stunned by 17-year-old Nouran Gohar in the quarter-final of last week's Stars on the Bund China Open.
However, Irving believes that David is looking forward to the future and is hopeful that she will recover from her early exit in China.
“It's been a learning process along the way for her,” Irving said.
“She's very famous in her native Malaysia. She has superstar status. She has learned from a young age about how to deal with the media attention which no other squash player gets anywhere else.
“She's been able to manage that in a way that she puts it into a positive support system. It's not something that is too daunting for her. She thrives on it a little bit as well and that's not easy for everyone.
“She didn't really have very good results for the last six months so it wasn't a surprise that she dropped and that's just the way it is. I know for sure that she is definitely very hungry, very determined and very clear on the task ahead of her now. She was only 21/22 when she won her first World Championship and she is now 32 so of course you're changing as an adult and all sorts of things.
“I think that she is in a good, clear state now. She's had some tough things going on in the last year but she has dealt with that and she is ready to go forward. I think it's going to be very interesting and I have full confidence that of course she is going to take the number one spot back some time this year.”
David will be looking to bounce back from her disappointment in China at the Macau Open which takes place from Thursday September 17 – Sunday September 20 where she faces Delia Arnold in the opening round.