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Raneem: World Number One   |   Nicol: World Number One

Nicol David - World Number One, 2006 - 2015
9 years and one month, uninterrupted

Reaction: | Nicol | Dad | Coaches | the Physios | the Fans
9 Years:
Duracell Bunny ... the Queen of Squash ...

Nicol David has been the dominant force in women's squash for the last decade, and although today sees her lose the world #1 ranking that she has held unbroken since August 2006, her incredible career is far from over and we're sure we'll see her back at the top of the pile soon.

Nevertheless, it's a good time to look back at those years to remind ourselves of the impact this tiny Malaysian phenomenon has had on the game ...


Not that it started when Nicol became #1 - by that time she was 22 years old and had already been Asian Champion (1998, 2000, 2002, 2004), World Games Champion (2005), British Junior Open Champion (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999) World Junior Champion (1999 and 2001, the first to win it twice) and had already won nine World Tour titles - the first of which came in 2000 only a month after her debut.

But it was in Hong Kong in 2005, when she won her first World Open title, that her reign truly started.

It would then be just a few months before she rose to number one in the world rankings, and the rest, as they say, is history.


Having reached the world's top ten early in 2004, Nicol spent the whole of that year ranked between #10 and #6, reaching the top five (#4) in January 2005.

She would lose just twice in the year, won the World Games in Germany in July, returned to Malaysia to become the first  home winner of the Malaysian Open, became the first Malaysian to win the British Open, and capped all that by winning the World Open in Hong Kong.

Her 2005 ranking didn't move much, #4 from January to May, #3 from June to December.


Those wins finally kicked in and on Jan 1st 2006 Nicol, now 23, became World #1.

That would last for just three months though, as she slipped to number two from April to July, on the back of two early-year successive final losses to Vanessa Atkinson.

A run of six successive tournament wins saw her back at #1 in August, and she has been there from then until ... today. That's NINE years and one month.

Wins in the Qatar Airways Challenge, British Open, Malaysian Open and Hong Kong Open would follow, as well as retaining her World Open title in Belfast.


If the year started well, with six more titles in the first half of the year, Nicol suffered losses in the British Open and Madrid World Open. Rachael Grinham won both of those, and Madrid was the first time since April 2004 that Nicol hadn't reached at least the quarters of a tournament.

The year ended on a high though, as in December Nicol won the inaugural Asian Sportswoman of the Year, beating more than 100 competitors representing 25 sporting bodies.


Ten tour titles including a fourth in a row in Hong Kong plus the British, Qatar and World titles and unbeaten for the whole year, a run of 53 matches. Yes, 2008 was a good year, a sixth successive Asian Champs title and a bronze with Malaysia in the World Teams were icing on the cake.

At home, she became the youngest person from Penang ever to be conferred a Datukship, hence Datuk Nicol David.


The year started at home in the KL Open, and a first first final brought a first defeat, Natalie Grainger ending the 56-match winning streak.

It wasn't long before she resumed her winning ways though, su
ccesses included a fifth Malaysian Open win in a row and  collecting another World Games gold medal.

In September she overtook Sarah Fitz-Gerald's 41-month record to become the third longest-reigning world number one, and shrugging off a surprise loss in the British Open semis she went on to collect a fourth World Open in Amsterdam.


The year began with Nicol at #1 for the 42nd consecutive month, and it was another year with double-digit triumphs, including a record sixth KL Open, Commonwealth Gold in Delhi, and in Sharm El Sheikh she equalled Sarah Fitz-Gerald's record of five World Open titles. 


2011 was a record-breaking year for Nicol - not necessarily on court, although titles in the KL, Cayman, Malaysian, Australian, Qatar and Hong Kong events, and the small matter of a sixth World Title in Rotterdam doesn't make for a bad year.

Off court though, Nicol was WISPA player of the year again, was Malaysian sportswoman of the year for a record 8th time, became (in March) the second longest-reigning number one ever, was hailed by Malaysia's prime minister as the country's "most successful sports icon", and was made an honorary major of the Royal Malaysian Air Force volunteer reserve.


Victories in the Cleveland Classic, KL, British, Australian, US and Hong Kong Opens were preludes to a fourth consecutive title in the Cayman Islands in December, which was, of course, a record-breaking sixth World Open title.


The year started with victory in the reinstated World Series Finals, and in March Nicol was named WSA player of the year for a record 7th time.

There would be no World Open title this year - for anyone, as the event was postponed, but Nicol racked up wins in the Malaysian, Carol Weymuller, US, China, and Hong Kong Opens, maintaining a solid grip on her number one ranking.


This was the year that the World Open (now officially the 'World Championship') would be held twice, and after starting the year with wins in the Tournament of Champions and the Cleveland Classic the expectation, in Mlaysia at least, was that Nicol would win her 8th World Title at home in Penang.

That wasn't to be as she lost in the semi-finals, surely one of the lows of her career.

Wins in the British, Hong Kong (unbreaten there since 2005), US (first to win it three times in a row) and Macau Opens showed that Nicol was far from finished, and the year finished on possibly the biggest high yet as Nicol saved four match balls on the way to beating Raneem El Welily in her home club in Cairo to claim that eight World Open title after all.


In February Nicol was top of the rankings for the 106th month, overtaking Susan Devoy to become the longest-reigning #1 ever.

Only two titles this year so far though - the Cleveland Classic and a ninth Asian Champs title.

Losses in the ToC (quarters), Windy City (final), British Open (semis) and Alexandria International (semis) meant that her once unassailable points gap at the top of the world rankings was, for the first time in almost a decade, under serious threat.

So, as of today (01-Sep-15), she's no longer World Number One. But if we were you, we'd be rushing down to the bookmakers to put our money on when, not if, she'll be number one again.

And if the recent WSF presentations to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics - and Nicol was one of the presentation team, of course - turn out to be successful, we wouldn't put it past her to be the first squash player to be kissing an Olympic Gold medal either (and holding true to this promise, of course) >>>>>>>

Tournament Record
from Wikipedia

NICOL reacts to the news

Video Interview with Nicol

In fact, to me the loss of the number one ranking was not unexpected.

My consistency has been up and down this year, I realised this was just a matter of time...

So I knew I had to take a time out for myself.

It's been a long time since I spent proper quality time with my family, friends and doing things I like, back home in Penang.

I've really made the most of this off season and have managed to regain my hunger and drive to get back to my best game.

I have been working extremely hard since I restarted my training programme. I'm highly excited to get going again in Shanghai!

The work I've done with Frank, my sport psychologist  has always been focused on working harder to achieve my best performance and to handle my losses.

This is one of them. I'm always learning at every moment, while looking forward to take on the challenge. And this is my motivation to recover my number one ranking back with full force for the next season.

I always work towards playing my best to win tournaments. This is going to be the same approach with a fresh boost from the off season to take it on for the tournaments to come.

For many top athletes, these moments just happen and that goes for me too.

I feel I still have so much more in store for the coming years with my squash ...


Desmond David

When Nicol first became World Number One it was something that dreams were made of and we were so happy that she was living her dream and after a short break, continued for more than 9 years unbroken.

This is something we are still trying to digest.

We all knew that the unbroken run would end sometime and now that it has happened we can only look forward to a new beginning, like the first time in 2006, while giving us a pause to absorb and appreciate the awesomeness of what has transpired.

We, as a family, are and have always been so very proud of Nicol all these years of her achievements and especially of the fact that she has over the years developed a great fan base and respect wherever she plays, much like Roger Federer. We are as proud of this as much as her being World Number One.

We have every confidence that her game which is still evolving, will see her come back stronger just like in 2006.

Happy Birthday Liz, by Nicol

THE COACH   Liz Irving

As we all know, Nicol's achievements have surpassed any expectations. Being a part of it makes me extremely proud.

Raneem has had a great run in the last six months and is deserving to achieve a number one ranking in this period.

However, I have full confidence that Nicol’s determination will see her get back that number one position, some time this year.

Frank Cabooter

Nicol's resilience stands out to many other athletes I work with.

For Nicol, a loss is a motivation to train harder than before to come back stronger.

My guess is that she will apply the same principle now and I'm really looking forward to seeing that in her game again.

From Liz' Week


Maurice Berghout
Sports Physiotherapist Amsterdam

Nicol is a wonderful and warm person and a dedicated, ambitious athlete. Not only does she have a true talent for squash but for enjoying life in general as well.

Everyone in her team can get along very well and that’s mostly because of Nicol’s character.

It is a true honour to be part of her team!
Ronald Fauvel
Sports Therapist attached to the National Sports institute of Malaysia

What sets Nicol off from any other athlete is her total contact with her body. I have worked with many Olympic athletes over the years and Nicol is right up there.

One thing is for sure she's in best condition she's ever been. What sets
her off from any other athlete is in total contact with her body.

She's the finest athlete I've ever worked with! She is absolutely amazing.

In January 2006, Malaysia and the world, witnessed history as Nicol David achieved the unthinkable by becoming the first Asian woman to clinch the coveted spot as squash’s World No. 1.

Though her joy was short-lived, losing the position within a short three months, it was merely the beginning of what would be a hallmark career in the history of the sport.

Four months after dropping her spot as World No. 1, Nicol came back with a vengeance and regained her spot as the top dog, a position she has since held onto with an iron grip.

Attaining glory may be tough, but maintaining it is even tougher. Always aiming to scale to greater heights, the Penang-born squash star worked diligently to stay ahead. In 2008 and 2010, Nicol achieved unbeaten streaks – a mean feat in any sport.

Blessed is the squash fraternity to have had such an amazing ambassador for our sport. From raising the bar of women's squash, and sharing her time generously in various squash awareness and development programmes, Nicol has not only inspired millions around the world to play squash, but has served as an icon of sporting excellence, mental strength and humility.

Squash may be a small sport in comparison to the big guns, but we have a shining beacon who will forever live amongst sports greats such as Tiger Woods, Stephen Hendry, and Steffi Graf for their long streaks at the top of their respective sports. Her dedication to her craft, her penchant for her community and her goal to highlight the amazing sport, are what will always set her apart from her peers.

Congratulations, Nicol, on a record-breaking career thus far. We raise a glass in awe of your achievements and wish you much success in the coming years!

Raneem El Welily, World Number One, Sep 2015

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