Squash: Nicol beats Meads then predicts victory in Malaysia

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The Independent Online
Scotland's world No 2, Peter Nicol, launched his quest for the men's world open title in Kuala Lumpur with a straight-games victory yesterday - and then said he was confident of lifting the crown.

Nicol, who moved up to No 2 behind Jansher Khan in the rankings on Saturday, beat England's Stephen Meads 15-7, 15-8, 15-7 in 32 minutes.

The 24-year-old Scot, who plays David Evans of Wales in the second round tomorrow, said: "I've been doing really well lately and I believe I will return home with the title."

Nicol's rise in the rankings comes in the wake of three victories over Jansher, the latest being in the Kuwait Open semi-finals last month.

Nicol, 24, is one of the favourites to take the title left vacant by Jansher, who has chosen not to compete in the World Open while his former wife attempts to claim pounds 200,000 in child maintenance in Malaysia. Jansher fears that arrival in Malaysia could result in his arrest for alleged non-payment.

Evans staged an upset yesterday when he outplayed the world No 15, Craig Rowland of Australia. Evans, the world No 36, put on an impressive display to win 9-15, 15-11, 15-13, 15-10.

"This is a good win for me, especially after facing a huge hurdle in qualifying round and I will try hard to go as far as I can in this tournament," he said.

Evans acknowledged thatfaces a tough challenge tomorrow. "Nicol is the No 2 player in the world now, and of course it will be a very tough match against him, but I will try my best to beat him."

The last time the two played was in June this year, when Nicol won in straight sets. "Evans has shown an improvement in the last three months and I am expecting a tough match against him," Nicol said.

There was another British victory, when England's Mark Cairns beat the host country's sole representative, Kenneth Low, with an easy victory, 15-8, 15-11, 15-9 victory.