Squash legend Nicol David has quickly banished any suggestions of retirement after she was dethroned as world champion in a further sign that her unparalleled dominance of the sport has ended.
The second-seeded Malaysian, vying for a ninth world title, was defeated Thursday in the quarter-finals of the PSA World Championships in Kuala Lumpur by fifth-seeded Nour El Sherbini of Egypt.
The 32-year-old David’s championship defence on home soil had been closely scrutinised following a dip in form that saw her phenomenal nine-year reign as world number one broken last September.
“Disappointed — but not even close to retirement,” David tweeted late Thursday after her loss.
David has firmly secured her place in squash history as one of the sport’s giants, using her lightning quickness and unrivalled court sense to win just about everything worth winning, including a record eight world championships.
But she hinted this week that her era of dominance was ending, admitting she was now focused more on tightening up her game than recapturing the top rank.
“I am definitely going to be fighting for the next one (world championship), for sure,” said David, who has slipped to world number five.
“My body is good, I’m feeling really strong and it’s now really fine-tuning a few things, adjusting and adding to my game.”
David is Malaysia’s most accomplished sports star and faced sky-high expectations from an adoring hometown crowd.
In a mark of her stature in Malaysia, her matches this week were played in an arena bearing her name.
She had looked solid in the tournament before losing decisively to El Sherbini 14-12, 4-11, 11-3, 11-7.
Egged on by the crowd, she later said she pushed too hard, too early and dropped the first game, sealing her fate.
David had been seeking her first world championship on home soil after falling short in Malaysia on two previous attempts.
World number one Laura Massaro from England will meet third-seeded Egyptian Raneem El Welily, while El Sherbini will battle compatriot Nouran Gohar in the semi-finals on Friday.