Malaysian icon and defending champion Nicol David had to call on all of the experience that has seen her capture a record eight World Championship titles as she recovered from a game down to defeat 2007 winner Rachael Grinham in a stunning five-game spectacle in the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil, Malaysia.
David began the better of the two and swept to the first game, before a spectacular response from 39-year-old Grinham saw the Australian go 2-1 ahead and threaten to cause one of the biggest upsets in World Championship history. But David stormed into action and dropped just three points in the final two games to record an 11-4, 8-11, 8-11, 11-1, 11-2, which was met with a deafening roar from a captivated crowd.
“I think she strung a few points together and she hit a few winners,” said David.
“There were a few shots from me where it hit the frame and then she went four or five points ahead. When you’re down, you have to figure out what you can do extra. I was giving her too much to work with and I started to find my groove a little bit more.
“In the fourth and fifth games I knew that I had to step it up, be in the rallies and force my game a lot more. I think that, in the first three games, it maybe took its toll a little bit and I could feel that she was getting tired in the fourth and fifth so I went through and won it as well as I could. I started to hit my balls better and I was, at least, getting the timing right.
“The court was a little bit deader in the evening than it was in the morning at practice so you have to adjust, get going and I felt much better in the fourth and fifth games because I could get out to the ball a bit better and attack when I could. I’m really pleased to put that game in and bring that forward tomorrow.
“I’ve beaten Rachael Grinham, who is a former World Champion. It’s not often you get former World Champions in the first round, but I got through, a win is a win and I’m very pleased to beat Rachael.”
Set in the suitably named Nicol David Arena, David looked set to charge towards a comfortable win after taking the opening game for the loss of just four points, despite a sensational piece of improvisation from Grinham that saw the former World No.1 slip, get up and hit a winner from behind her back towards the end of the game.
Grinham dug in her heels though and treated the gathered spectators to a veritable feast of superb shots from her distinguished repertoire. A brilliant airborne volley at game ball saw her level proceedings, before a delicately flicked cross court that died in the front left hand corner in the third sent her on her way to victory in that game as well.
With the tension palpable, David ensured that her home crowd didn’t go home disappointed as she capitalised on a tiring Grinham to romp to victory in the final two games, dropping just a handful of points in the process, to set up a second round showdown with either Alison Waters or Heba El Torky.
Result – First Round: Naza PSA Women’s World Championship
 Nicol David (MAS) bt Rachael Grinham (AUS) 3-2: 11-4, 8-11, 8-11, 11-1, 11-2 (46m)
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