Joelle King feels primed for Cayman Open
A rested Joelle King plans to do justice to an excellent year with a strong performance at the World Open squash tournament in the Cayman Islands.
The Kiwi No 1 has enjoyed good success in 2012, culminating with a rise to a career-best No 5 in the world rankings, having hovered between 10th and 20th for the past two years.
A busy schedule had started to take its toll, however, but following a 10-day break back home, the 24-year-old is ready for the biggest tournament on the squash calendar, the Cayman Squash World Open, boasting a purse of US$188,000 (NZ$222,000).
The fifth seed for the event, King faces Hong Kong's Joey Chan, ranked 21st in the world, in the first round on Monday (NZ time).
"It's been a great year for me already but I just want to do it justice and finish it off well," she said. "Who knows? It'd be great to go into the new year as a world champion."
King reached the semifinals of the US Open, won the Macau Open and lost the final of the China Open in October but the busy schedule caught up with her at the world team championship in France and the Hong Kong Open last month, when she lost in the second round to Egypt's world No 20 Omneya Abdel Kawy.
"Everyone is feeling fatigued at this time of the season and the player I lost to had a really good tournament. She beat (world No 3) Laura Massaro, (world No 4) Alison Waters and me. Obviously it's a match I should have won but if you put it into perspective it probably wasn't the worst loss in the world," King said.
"It's been a pretty hectic couple of months for me, a lot of flying and playing, so I've just been trying to get my body feeling 100 per cent, giving it a break and catching up on some sleep."
If King gets past Chan in the first round, she would most likely face 11th seed Natalie Grinham in the second round, and potentially have a quarterfinal against second seed Raneem El Weleily.
"I try to only look at the first round," King said. "I've got Joey Chan, she's top-20 in the world so it's not the easiest of first rounds. But I've been playing well and the rest and a few home-cooked meals has probably done me good."
Malaysia's world No 1 Nicol David, who has won six of the past seven World Open titles, including the last four, is the favourite.
New Zealand No 3 Kylie Lindsay is attempting to qualify for the main draw of just 32 players, and will face Colombian Catalina Pelaez in her first round qualifying match this morning.