Nick Matthew column: ‘Megastar’ David is a great ambassador for women’s game

Nicol David in action in the final of the Windy City Open. Picture: PSA World Tour
Nicol David in action in the final of the Windy City Open. Picture: PSA World Tour

To be world number one for over 100 consecutive months, in any sport, takes some doing.

But Malaysia’s Nicol David truly is an incredible athlete and a great ambassador for squash. Nicol, an eight-time world champion, is arguably the greatest player of all time.

Nicol is closing in on 80 WSA Tour titles in her career. She narrowly lost to Egypt’s Raneem El Weleily in the Windy City Open final in Chicago last week.

In her homeland, Nicol is a superstar. There are billboards at the Malaysia airport and on the motorways with her face on them advertising everything under the sun. She is a household name.

To escape the media attention, Nicol bases herself in Amsterdam, Holland, which is quite unusual for a squash player. I’m lucky if I get recognised when shopping in Sainsbury’s never mind anywhere else!

I don’t think I have ever heard anyone say a bad word about Nicol. She conducts herself impeccably on and off the court. She puts so much back into the sport and certainly doesn’t just take out it.

It’s a shame Nicol has not had the opportunity to grace the Olympic stage because I think if she had she would be a global megastar alongside the likes of Cathy Freeman, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Denise Lewis. She’s on that sort of level.

Over the 100-plus months Nicol has held squash’s world number one ranking, she’s had six or seven different rivals who have been ranked number two and beaten her on occasions. The thing is with Nicol is that she just constantly wants to improve and re-invent herself.

I read an article with Nicol the other day and she said she is always striving to be the complete player. She’s always looking ahead rather than looking over a shoulder on what’s coming up behind her. That’s the sign of a great champion and one of the main reasons why she his still at the top of the game.

Every time you think someone has Nicol’s number, she has proved time and time again that she bounces back and that’s what great champions do. She’s held off people such as Laura Massaro and Jenny Duncalf so it will be an interesting to see if she can do it again with El Weleily.

What I do know is it’s a great time for the women’s game. The depth on tour is the best I’ve known it since I became a pro and their coverage has increased since our associations merged together.