US SQUASH

Nicol David is Cleveland Classic Queen

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(image: Mike Weil)

Malaysia’s world number one Nicol David celebrated her fifth successive appearance in the final of the Women’s Cleveland Classic by dispatching world No. 2 Raneem El Welily in straight games to win the WSA International 50 squash event at Cleveland Racquet Club in Cleveland, Ohio, for the third time.

It was an impressive return to form by the 31-year-old from Penang who suffered a shock quarter-final exit in last month’s JP Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York. It was an opening of which Egyptian El Welily took full advantage – going on to claim the WSA International 100 event trophy for the first time.

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Finalist El Welily (L) and Champion Nicol David (R) (image: Mike Weil)

While David reached the Cleveland climax after a 3/0 semifinal win over unseeded Egyptian Omneya Abdel Kawy, El Welily was taken the full distance in the other semi before clinching her place in the final with a 12-10 win in the decider against former champion Laura Massaro, the No. 2 seed from England.

In the final, defending champion David comfortably took the opening game – but El Welily (pictured above, left, in action with David) came back strongly in the second, opening up 5-2 and 8-4 leads.

But error-free play by the top seed saw David claw back to nine-all before taking the next two points to extend her lead to 2/0.

From three-all in the third, El Welily only managed a further point as the majestic Malaysian powered through to her 11-5, 11-9, 11-4 victory.

It was David’s first WSA World Tour title triumph of the year – but the 79th of her career!

“She had a big long tourney win at the ToC and then a tough five-setter yesterday, ” said the three-time Cleveland Classic champion of her opponent. “I hoped maybe to get the lead and take it to the end.”

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