KINGSTON UPON HULL - Malaysia's Nicol David gained some compensation for the loss of her world title in her home state of Penang last month by regaining the British Open in Laura Massaro's native country on Sunday. David, the world number one, won 8-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-8 against England's world champion Massaro, who beat her in last year's British Open final, played outdoors at the same venue.
This time the conditions were indoors and warmer, and after a slightly edgy start David began to play more accurately and with more control. She also once again proved herself the better athlete, providing a foundation for the patience which drew errors from Massaro in a tight fourth game. "I am so pleased -- it means the world to me. It was so close -- there wasn't much in it," added David after winning her fifth British Open title and first since 2012.
"It was neck-and-neck all the time. I was pleased to stay in there. I think she (Massaro) made a few errors at the end." Although this was true, it only happened after rallies which became increasingly long and varied. Massaro outplayed David at the crucial moments in the first game but, from 4-5 down in the second, David took seven points in a row relatively quickly. By then the Malaysian was playing more confidently, and from 1-4 down in the third game, she again began to make steady progress. The four points she took from 6-6, with varying angles and patterns, helped change the feel of the match.
But after an hour's high-speed play the Englishwoman may have been feeling the pace, and three drop-shots into the tin came at a crucial time. David completed her victory with another patient rally and an uncharacteristically loud scream as Massaro's lob drive floated just out of court. She looked both relieved and delighted. Afterwards, David said she'd learnt a lot from her Penang defeat.
"I just knew I could just have the good times building up for the British Open, and I have been really focussing on that," she said. Massaro added: "I am aware she hasn't played her best in the (recent) past, but she did today (Sunday) and I don't think I could have done an awful lot more. "She deserves to be number one, but I don't think I am too far behind her."
There was further English disappointment in the men's final where France's world number one Gregory Gaultier produced a stunning performance to outplay world champion Nick Matthew 11-3, 11-6, 11-2. Lasting only 45 minutes, it was the shortest of all the 30 matches between them and startled those who had heard Gaultier admit Saturday he was "out of gas" after ending the title defence of Ramy Ashour in the semi-finals.  "Yesterday (Saturday) I was feeling dizzy but I think it helped get my aerobic system going," said Gaultier.
"When you see the players who have won this great title it makes me so proud to have won it." It is seven years since Gaultier became the only Frenchman ever to have won the world's oldest title, and this repeat success offered some compensation for his loss to Matthew in the world final in Manchester in September.
Some of the disappointed home crowd wondered whether Matthew had left his best squash on the court during a mammoth 104-minute semi-final with Mohamed El Shorbagy. "But that's not true," the Yorkshireman said sportingly. "It was just that Greg played out of his mind."