The eight-time world champion eventually hit fifth gear but, in a battle of the 30-year-olds, David was taken the distance in her opening match against Rachael Grinham, the 2007 champion, before advancing through 11-4, 8-11, 8-11, 11-1, 11-2.
“I was finding my groove in the third and I knew I had to step it up in the fourth and fifth,” said David, who had never lost an opening World Championship encounter in the last 15 years.
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Step up she did, taking the last two games in six minutes apiece and, but for a backhand into the tin, would have plundered the last two games by accruing 10 points in a row.
By now Grinham was physically spent, but the tour veteran had earlier rolled back the years to stifle David’s rhythm.
The Australian had been introduced to the crowd as ‘having been on tour for 19 years’. Grinham’s response was to simulate a retired Brisbanite hobbling on her racket.
After Grinham’s moments of ascendancy, a different atmosphere suddenly took hold in the Nicol David Arena. The pressure had lifted and David reveled in front of her home crowd. It wasn’t the prettiest of matches, but the threat of a former world No 1 had been averted.
“Playing in Malaysia, you get that extra push and not let anything go,” the 32-year-old said. “I want to be able to go out there and dig deep – that’s what I really want.”
CREDIT: MOHD ROSLAN HISAM
Meanwhile, Sarah-Jane Perry, England’s No 2, will attempt to reach the quarter-finals for the first time when she plays former British Open champion Camille Serme, of France, on Wednesday.
Her first round match with Olivia Blatchford was a mismatch on two fronts thanks to Perry’s power and height.
Standing 6ft 0in tall, there was a foot height in difference on court and Perry stood firm during her 26-minute canter over the American 11-4, 11-6, 11-6.
She was aided during game intervals by her coach Sue Wright via her iphone, with Perry trumpeting recent changes to her game.
Perry, the world No 12, said: “As a national champion, Sue has been there and done it and there is a lot to learn from her.”
Jenny Duncalf was ousted by Egyptian qualifier Nadine Shahin in a surprising defeat. The former world No 2 led 12-10 before Shahin took the next three 11-6, 11-5, 11-7.
However, three English players were confirmed for the last 16 when Alison Waters, last year’s semi-finalist, beat Egypt’s Heba El Torky 13-11, 11-7, 4-11, 11-7 in 53 minutes.
The Middlesex right-hander survived a mid-match dip against the tricky Egyptian and will next play David for a place in the quarter-finals.