Squash: Cool David reaches British Open quarter-finals
London: Nicol David`s coolly carved-out 11-6, 13-11, 11-4 victory over Sarah-Jane Perry which carried her to the quarter-finals of the British Open included a 24th birthday gift to the hard-hitting but tempestuous Englishwoman.
It took the form of exemplary focus and patience, which helped the world number one from Malaysia chisel her way through a difficult second game in which she saved a game point.
Had Perry been able to adopt some of those qualities herself, she could have caused David even more trouble than she did; instead she had to settle for what might have been and some idea of what might help her do even better in future.
David, too, may take important things from the match.
This was her first outing on an all-glass court since losing her world title last month, and she dealt comfortingly well with the uncertainties of new conditions, with a crowd cheering for her opponent, and with important moments in which she let leads slip.
"I hadn`t played her before, so it was a case of getting used to what she was doing with the ball," David said. "Because her hands are really good, and you have to be ready for what`s coming.
"Once I got used to a certain angle or a certain space I was settling down a bit better - but without doubt she played really well. I had to dig deep, but I know I have to keep going, and to take the lead and take it right through. Happy birthday to her!"
The first game saw Perry angered by a refereeing decision at 6-6, immediately lose five rallies in a row to drop it 11-6.The pivotal second game saw her get a warning for dissent at 5-7, which seemed to make her focus better and which was followed by her surging to 9-7 and to 10-9.
That game point was saved when David`s speed of foot pressured Perry into putting a volley drop shot down. After that several disciplined rallies pulled the favourite away from difficulty and into a two-game lead.
She next plays Omneya Abdel Kawy in a repeat of the 2010 world final at Sharm el-Sheikh.
That became possible after the 11th-seeded Egyptian came from two games down and saved two match points during an improbable survival.
These dramas happened in a 8-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-9, 13-11 victory over Camille Serme, the sixth-seeded French player, who led by 7-6 in the fourth game, by 6-3 in the fifth game, and stood within one good blow of victory at 10-9 and 11-10.
Kawy, one of the most skilful wielders of a racket the women`s game has seen, saved both of those with outrageous return-of-serve volleys which rolled dead from the nick between the forehand sidewall and the floor.
"I had already made the decision that it`s in or nothing," Kawy said, explaining her audacity. "Thank god they went in. Hopefully I won`t need to do that again."
Earlier Alison Waters, the fifth-seeded Englishwoman, and Joelle King, the fourth-seeded New Zealander, came through to contest the other quarter-final in the same half of the draw.