Sharm El Sheikh: Nicol David moved to within one win of equalling the record of five World Open titles when she quelled the challenge of England`s Alison Waters in straight games.
The Malaysian superstar produced a focussed, mobile, and quietly ruthless performance to record a 14-12, 11-2, 11-6 semi-final victory on Tuesday.
In the Singapore Masters final in July David had had to save five game points in the first game against Waters and now had to save an even more important one at 10-9 in the first game.
Having done so David got right on top against an opponent whom she had beaten in all their 16 meetings and who looked understandably dispirited well before the end.
It earned David, who has spent fully 50 months at the top of the world rankings, a meeting in the final with Omneya Abdel Kawy, the first Egyptian woman ever to reach a World Open final.
But in hot and humid conditions, and battling against home support as well as an opponent in the best form of her life, that may prove more difficult than usual.
"I am just glad to be in the final," said David, already in control of her emotions only a few seconds after her important win. "This was definitely a big hurdle to get over.”
"Against Alison I always have to play my best game. It was a difficult match, even though it doesn`t show (in the score).”
"It was amazingly humid and my racket handle was so sweaty in the first game I had to change it. There were drips on the floor and you don`t always get that on the women`s game!"
Waters also knew that by taking the ball early on the volley and hustling David into defensive positions, she could make some headway. But once again it brought encouraging early progress upon which she was unable to capitalise.
The third seeded Londoner had her nose in front until game ball at 10-9, when she was pushed deep by a David drive. Waters` attempt to boast her way out of trouble only sent the ball drifting off the sidewall into the tin.
David never fell into deficit again and, having closed out the first game at the third attempt, the champion went on the rampage, taking seven points in a row to grab the second game in a match-winning sequence.
"The first game is always important," said David. "It had been neck and neck all the way. Neither of us wanted to give anything.”
"Whoever took it had to fight hard, and it took a lot out of me but when I had won it, it gave me a boost.”
"I felt a bit more confident after that, and I went with that feeling. It gave me more opportunity to play my shots and she made a few more mistakes."
In the third game Waters made a brief fight-back from 2-7 to 6-9 without really looking as if she would recover parity, her body language already betraying her sense of disappointment.
David duly finished it off with a nimbly produced and tightly accurate backhand drop shot which got her to match point at 10-6; a lob which landed perfectly in the backhand corner converted the chance immediately.
Earlier Kawy had played impressively, with great flair and considerable tenacity to end the fine run of Camille Serme.
The Egyptian won 11-4, 11-7, 11-6 against an opponent whose career-best sequence, which included a win over the second-seeded English player Jenny Duncalf, made her the first French woman to reach the World Open semi-finals.
"I have played Omneya a number of times and it is always a good game," said David. "I will just take everything out of my bag and throw it on the court in one last push."