Nicol David raised hopes of challenging for her first World Series title in 15 months when a relaxed and mobile performance carried her into the semi-finals of the British Open on Friday.
The record-breaking former world number one from Malaysia achieved this with a convincing 11-6, 11-6, 11-8 win over the second-seeded Camille Serme, who became the first Frenchwoman to win the world’s oldest title two years ago.
David’s movement seemed as good as ever at the age of 33, her driving was accurate, and her volleying offered a continual threat which denied her opponent time, except for a brief spell in the third game.
Then Serme erased a four-point deficit and reached 8-8 only for David to close the match out with four well-constructed points and happily celebrate her first win over a world top three player since December 2015.
“I have had time to reflect and I appreciate still having the opportunity to compete in a tournament like this,” David said.
“I want to make the most of it and enjoy it. My body feels as if it’s at a top level.”
David's chances of making the final look good, for she will play Sarah-Jane Perry, the seventh-seeded Englishwoman who came through in the quarter which lost Nouran Gohar, last year’s finalist, on the first day.
Perry downed Australia's Donna Urquhart 11-4, 7-11, 13-11, 6-11, 11-4.
“I am very pleased with my performance and that will give me a lot of confidence,” said David. “And tomorrow I will play without pressure.”
The other semi-final will be between the top-seeded titleholder, Nour El Sherbini, and Laura Massaro, the 2013 champion from England, who produced a clever tactical performance to win in four games against Raneem El Welily, the third-seeded former world number one from Egypt.
Earlier another Egyptian, Mohamed Elshorbagy made a remarkable double recovery, reviving hopes of keeping both the world number one ranking and the British Open title when he came back from a worrying deficit.
The top-seeded titleholder from Alexandria was within two points of defeat against Ali Farag, one of his fiercest compatriot rivals, at 5-9 down in the fourth game of a contentious encounter.
- Contentious encounter -
But even though he suffered a cut eye, a bout of rage, and a stern warning from the referee, Elshorbagy struggled his way to a 11-8, 9-11, 8-11, 12-10, 11-5 win.
Farag, who had beaten Elshorbagy in an another contentious encounter, in front of the Giza pyramids six months ago, again moved brilliantly, dropped the ball in short with great accuracy, and used his tactical subtlety to deny his formidable opponent chances to attack.
But the last two points kept receding from him.
“At 5-9 I thought I was going down and I looked at my mother,” said Elshorbagy. “And when I saw her it was like ‘don’t go down like this.’ And I just fought.”
His reward is a semi-final with the fourth-seeded Nick Matthew, the 36-year-old three-time former British Open champion from England who appeared in danger against the speedy Tarek Momen, only for the eight-seeded Egyptian to deteriorate into a rush of errors and subside to a 11-9, 10-12, 11-6, 7-11, 11-6 defeat.
The other semi-final will be between Greg Gaultier, the third-seed who beat his French compatriot Mathieu Castagnet 11-4, 11-6, 11-6, and Ramy Ashour, the fifth-seeded former British Open champion from Egypt.
Ashour overcame Mohamed Abouelghar, the unseeded conqueror of world champion Karim Gawad, 10-12, 7-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-5.