By RJ Mitchell
Nicol David has advised Nouran Gohar that the ‘hard work’ of being World No.1 starts in Cairo tonight when the CIB PSA World Tour Finals get underway.
Gohar will begin her first tournament as the game’s top female ranked player with a Group A clash against World No.5 Sarah-Jane Perry, over the quick-fire best-of-three games format that characterises the early stages of the PSA World Tour’s prestigious showpiece event, which is being held at the Mall of Arabia for a second year.
Gohar took the decision to sit out the first event back after the lifting of the COVID-19 pandemic enforced suspension at Manchester last week but David, who won the first ever women’s World Tour Finals in 2012, reckons that may not be a negative for the 22-year-old.
The World Tour Finals will be launched by World Champion Nour El Sherbini’s meeting with Commonwealth Games gold medallist Joelle King, and the great David is clearly relishing the impending action in an event she enjoyed so much success in.
The two-time World Tour Finals winner said: “To be honest, I can’t speak for Nouran or anyone’s feelings or position with pressure, but I know Nouran is a strong minded woman and very determined so I’m sure she will be out for a fight.
“We all respond to pressure differently but the important thing is to keep to a strong preparation and mindset to be able to overcome and handle tricky situations and that is what I focused on during my career.
“Also I always say that being World No.1 is something you have to gain every day. This applies to every player out there, not just those at the top. It’s about working hard, and not taking anything for granted.
Nouran Gohar (right) takes on Nicol David (left) during the 2016 Hong Kong Open
“But I think all players have their preparation set and missing out on a tournament doesn’t mean they won’t be up and ready for the next competition, but I was very happy to see Nour [El Tayeb] take the title in Manchester as I know it will mean a lot to her.
“Regarding the other players, now it’s a new tournament here at the World Tour Finals and each tournament has its own story. There’s no one formula for everyone. Personally, I don’t give predictions before any tournament as I believe every tournament has its own story and anyone can take the title.
“But one thing’s for sure, I will be tuning in on SQUASHTV to see who takes the title and I am sure we are in for some fantastic squash.”
David also reflected on that successful year, back in 2012, when she became the first woman to hold the triple crown of British Open, World Open and World Tour Finals in one year.
David admits the 3-0 win over Madeline Perry that yielded that maiden World Tour Finals was a special moment in her incredible career.
“It was the first time the women were included in the finals together with the men. It was a truly special moment for the women’s tour, to be recognised and having the opportunity to showcase the top women.
“Personally, I had been wanting to play this tournament so having the chance to play was a total win and then taking over the title made it even more special.”
David’s feat of becoming the first female to win the British, World and World Tour Finals trophies in the same year has not yet been matched.
Nicol David waves goodbye to the crowd at her final World Championship appearance
“To be honest, at the time I didn’t know, I was just trying to get through the season,” said David.
“But now that I’m retired, I have a better perspective and appreciation of what I did, when you’re playing you just focus on winning this one to get ready for the next one. That mindset it’s what keeps us going, but now that I’m out of it, I wish I could have realised more the achievement on its own and of course I am happy to hear I got the triple crown.
“But to me, any win was a win. I was thankful I could achieve what I did, but like I mentioned, my mindset was to look forward for the next one. These moments passed very quickly.”
️ When it comes to the best-of-three games format of the group stages, David says that focus is extra important.
“I think the mindset has to be the same. Keep your focus, keep to your strategy, and go for it. Nothing should be different it’s just about starting off strong and solid to make the most of the shorter games.”
And the eight-time world champion has no doubt that each of the players battling it out in the Mall of Arabia will benefit from their participation in the much anticipated event: “I think after these crazy times with COVID-19 and the players not having any tournaments for some time, I feel all of them would just be so relieved that the tour is back on again.
“So, I really believe that the World Tour Finals will provide all eight girls with a great kickstart to the rest of their season and a positive platform.”