Led by nine players from both the men’s and women’s world top 20 rankings, the cast list for next week’s Commonwealth Games Squash championships in Delhi will be world-class – with Malaysia’s world number one Nicol David seeded to win the women’s singles gold medal and England’s Nick Matthew, the world No2, expected to take men’s gold.
Players from 27 countries will compete in the two singles events which get underway at the superb new eleven-court Siri Fort Complex – which features an all-glass centre court – on Monday 4 October. Following the Gold and Bronze medal play-offs on Friday 8 October, the three Doubles championships (Men, Women & Mixed) will take place from Saturday 9th to Wednesday 13th October.
New medallists will be certain in the Women’s Singles event – with no previous winners in the field, and after Nicol Davidfinished only in fourth place in Melbourne in 2006. It was the 27-year-old from Penang’s third successive appearance in the event following her debut in her home country in the sport’s first appearance in the Games in 1998.
Nicol David, who celebrated her 50th successive month as world number one this month, is in sparkling form after winning a record-equalling fifth World Open title in Egypt earlier this month.
“After my win at the World Open in Sharm El Sheikh I’m looking forward to bringing that over to Delhi for theCommonwealth Games,” said the Malaysian on the eve of her departure for Delhi. “The Games will be a completely different atmosphere and being part of the Malaysian contingent will be a nice boost to do my best out there for the country.
“The Commonwealth Games is always special and I will go all out for it!”
Nick Matthew is also enjoying the best form of his career this year after becoming the first player to win three PSA Super Series championships. But, after becoming England’s first world number one for six years in June, the 30-year-old from Sheffield suffered a minor setback when illness forced him to withdraw from the British Grand Prix, the biggest event in Europe this year, in England earlier this month.
“I’m fully fit now and looking forward to being in Delhi,” said Matthew as he joined his England team-mates for the flight to India. “I hear that the atmosphere in the England camp has been buzzing and we all can’t wait to get out there and get amongst it now.
“On a personal point of view, it will be my second Commonwealth Games – and the first one was among the highlights of my career, so I can’t wait to get playing, especially after missing the British Grand Prix.
“Hopefully the enforced rest has done me good,” added the gold favourite.
Whilst a new gold medallist is assured in both the men’s and women’s events, Australia’s David Palmer will be hoping to win his third successive medal after clinching Bronze in England in 2002 and Silver on home soil four years ago.
One his country’s most successful players of all-time, Palmer celebrated ten complete years in the world’s top 10 last month – and earlier this month rediscovered his former form by reaching the semi-finals of the British Grand Prix in Manchester.
Despite losing to Egypt’s Ramy Ashour, the reigning world number one and the event’s eventual champion, Palmer took positives from his performance: “It’s given me encouragement,” said the two-time World Open champion. “I haven’t been able to play a match like that for the last four or five months.
“The Commonwealth Games is very important to me – and it looks as if I’m back in form. It’s better late than never! “So I can go back home and be happy now.
“But it’s going to be very tough in Delhi,” admitted the 34-year-old fifth seed.