Nicol David has been world No. 1 for a total of 102 months since first assuming the coveted ranking in January, 2006. In February, 2015, she is expected to break the mark of 105 months at No. 1 held by New Zealand’s Susan Devoy.
David has already eclipsed the men’s record of 100 months set by Jahangir Khan.
One might think her run of excellence might be based solely on consistency-such as not losing a game en route to the semifinals of the U.S. Open Squash Championships this week-but David insists she is constantly adapting her game to improve.
In 2008, David was forced to adapt tactically when the sport made a radical scoring change to conform with the men. The game of squash only got more interesting for her when the scoring system changed from nine points per game (where points were scored only when the player who was serving won the point) to 11 points per game with PAR (point after rally) scoring (which awards a point to either player who wins the point after every serve).
“The change to the PAR scoring system means that players want to control a point if they can on the return of serve because they can win the point now whether or not they are serving,” explained David. “This requires a change in thinking from the first serve of the match.”
The modest David is the first Asian player to have achieved the world No. 1 ranking and has been named Malaysian Athlete of the Year on eight occasions.
Among her 75 titles, David has won nine Hong Kong Opens, seven World Open Championships, five British Opens, and is seeking her third consecutive U.S. Open Championship. She next faces world No. 3 seed Raneem El Weleily on Friday evening at 6 pm at the Drexel University Daskalakis Athletic Center.
David is the definition of consistency in her approach to her professional career. She has been coached by Liz Irving for 12 years and lives in Amsterdam to be coached by Irving whenever she is not competing on the tour.
Irving accompanies David to five major tournaments annually, including the U.S. Open, and David is proud to have a female coach, which is also not a common sight on the tour.
In addition to Irving, David has a sports psychologist and two physiotherapists on whom she relies to keep her physically fit. Physiotherapists Maurice Berghout, of Amsterdam, who is also with David this week, and Ronald Fauvel, who is based in Malaysia, plus Dutch psychologist Frank Cabooter, are long time team members.
“I am fortunate because the government of Malaysia supports me and my team,” explained David, “and I want to return to Malaysia at the end of my playing career to start an academy to develop players in the future.”
David is dead serious when she states that she believes she has yet to reach her full potential. She is in excellent physical condition and plans to continue her record-setting globetrotting lifestyle with the hope that squash will be voted into the Olympics in 2020.
“Ramy Ashour and I met with the IOC Executive Committee in 2013,” said an enthusiastic David commenting on the Olympic prospects for squash. “I really believe we made a strong presentation.”
But just in case the 2020 Olympics do not turn out to be in David’s future, she has her plans for an off-court career in design following in the footsteps of another female athlete icon by the name of Venus Williams.