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
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
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
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, successes 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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
In February Nicol was top of the rankings for the 106th
month, overtaking Susan Devoy to become the longest-reigning
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
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
reacts to the news
Video Interview with Nicol
fact, to me the loss of the number one ranking was not
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
I've really made the most of this off season and
have managed to regain my hunger and drive to get back to my
have been working extremely hard since I restarted my
training programme. I'm highly excited to get going again in
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
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 ...
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
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
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
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
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
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!
attached to the National Sports institute of Malaysia
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
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!