Wednesday, 25 May 2016 | MYT 5:12 PM
Nicol in action against Amanda Sobhy (back) in the World Series Finals in Dubai. – PSA / Getty Images
PETALING JAYA: World No. 5 Nicol David’s bid to end the season on a high got off to a great start at the World Series Finals in Dubai.
Playing in front of the iconic Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building – and adopting the shorter best-of-three format certainly got the best out of Nicol as she powered to an 11-6, 13-11 win over American Amanda Sobhy in Group A on Tuesday.
It was just the start the 32-year-old Nicol was looking for to put a disappointing season behind her, including the quarter-final loss to Nour El Sherbini at the Women’s World Championship in Kuala Lumpur last month.
World No. 8 Sobhy, who possesses a dangerous array of shots, had threatened to derail two-time World Series winner Nicol’s bid as she led in both sets.
But Nicol was in her element, taking the first 11-6 before overcoming a two-point deficit to nail the second set 13-11.
“It’s my first time playing in Dubai and it’s just spectacular to be competing in front of the Burj Khalifa … it just spurs us to play even better,” said Nicol.
“Amanda played some very good shots and I let her in at times. But I stuck to my guns and managed to grind out a win.
“The shorter three-set format really does mean you have to be on your game from the first point.”
Nicol, who won the title in 2012 and 2013, will take on England’s world No. 2 Laura Massaro for a place in the semi-finals.
Massaro also got off to a great start by beating Egyptian world No. 6 Nouran Gohar 11-7, 13-11.
In Group B, Egyptian world No. 3 Raneem El Welily turned the tables on compatriot and world champion Nour by pulling off a 12-10, 17-15 win.
The other Group B match saw French world No. 4 Camille Serme edging world No. 7 Omneya Abdel Kawy of Egypt 11-9, 13-11.
There were also upsets in the men’s event, with Australia’s world No. 13 Cameron Pilley taking down Egypt’s world No. 4 Omar Mosaad 11-7, 5-11, 11-5 in Group B.
Group A saw Colombia’s Miguel Angel Rodriguez beat England’s world No. 3 Nick Matthew 8-11, 11-8, 11-9 in an explosive match.
Group A: Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) bt Mathieu Castagnet (Fra) 11-4, 11-6; Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Col) bt Nick Matthew (Eng) 8-11, 11-8, 11-9.
Group B: Cameron Pilley (Aus) bt Omar Mosaad (Egy) 11-7, 5-11, 11-5; Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt Simon Rosner (Ger) 11-2, 11-9.
Group A: Laura Massaro (Eng) bt Nouran Gohar (Egy) 11-7, 13-11; Nicol David (Mas) bt Amanda Sobhy (US) 11-6, 13-11.
Group B: Camille Serme (Fra) bt Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy) 11-9, 13-11; Raneem El Welily (Egy) bt Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 12-10, 17-15.