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24 Jun 2024

Nicol David Faces Tough Challenge In Dunlop British Open Title Defence

29 Aug 2006

Nicol David, whose first-time victory in last year's Dunlop British Open ultimately led to her becoming Malaysia's first ever world number one, is seeded to retain her title in the 2006 event which will take place at the University of Nottingham from 15-18 September.

But the 23-year-old defending champion has been given a tough opening match according to the draw announced today by event promoters internationalSPORTgroup. David, who has won five further WISPA World Tour titles since her 2005 British Open triumph - including the World Open crown in December - will face Shelley Kitchen, the New Zealander who beat her in this year's Commonwealth Games bronze medal play-off in Melbourne.

Two Tour victories over the world No13 since then will boost David's confidence in Nottingham - but the world number one's predicted quarter-final opponent is England's top-ranked player Vicky Botwright, the fifth seed who won their last encounter in the Qatar Classic in November.

The anticipated semi-final in the top half of the draw would be a repeat of last year's Dunlop British Open final - in which David is expected to face Natalie Grinham, the fourth-seeded Australian who beat her in Melbourne en-route to winning Commonwealth Games gold.

Vanessa Atkinson, David's predecessor both as world champion and world number one, is the event's second seed. The 30-year-old world No2 from the Netherlands begins her bid to win a maiden British Open crown by taking on fast-rising England star Alison Waters, the 22-year-old world No10 from London.

Atkinson is expected to face Australia's two-times British Open champion Rachael Grinham in the semi-finals. The third seed from Queensland, winner of the title in 2003 and 2004 - both times also in Nottingham - is the older sister of Natalie Grinham, and meets England's world No12 Laura-Jane Lengthorn in the first round.

"With all of the world's top eight competing in the women's event, the 2006 Dunlop British Open offers the strongest possible draw next month at the University of Nottingham," said Tournament Promoter Paul Walters of internationalSPORTgroup.

The 2006 Dunlop British Open Squash Championships, featuring world-class men's, women's and masters events, will take place at the University of Nottingham for the first time - with qualifying getting underway on Tuesday 12 September, followed by the main draw from Friday 15 September, when action will also be featured on the all-glass court.