Sport

Nunn's just happy to play

Canberra rising star Christine Nunn was like most squash fans at the Australian Open yesterday - she was just happy to be there.

Nunn, 21, was ''thrilled'' about her first appearance in the main draw of a major, despite losing in straight games to Indian world No.15 Dipika Pallikal.

''The feeling I got when I walked on - I was like a real professional,'' Nunn said.

''It's different playing in front of a bigger crowd, there's a lot more pressure and I get nervous.

''I was really glad to get back home, there's nothing like it, the crowd was cheering for me and I was playing on a glass court.''

The world No.74 had only ever made it to the qualification rounds of the Australian Open, played on four-walled courts at the Woden Squash Centre.

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However, she knows she will have to take her game to the next level to compete with the top 20 women in the world.

''The girls pick up the ball a lot quicker and everything is just faster,'' she said.

''My coaches [Anthony Ricketts and Byron Davis] are teaching me to play a more practical style that will win me matches. My goal is to move my ranking up to 60 by next year and represent Australia in the Commonwealth Games.''

Pallikal, who had never played Nunn before, rated her opponent a ''great chance'' of climbing up the rankings.

''I saw Christine play at the world juniors in Chennai [India] a few years ago and she's a talented player,'' she said.

''It will all depend on how she goes in the major tournaments once she gets a bit of experience.''

Nunn started the match well but was soon outclassed 11-5, 11-2, 11-5 by Pallikal.

The Woden junior actually led 3-2 in the first set before taking a rare time-out for a bleeding foot.

''I was just creating some drama to entertain my home crowd,'' Nunn joked afterwards.

Earlier in the day, Australia's top seeds Rachel Grinham and Donna Urquhart both enjoyed comfortable first-round victories.

Grinham defeated South African Siyoli Waters 11-8, 13-11, 11-9, while Urquhart took only 23 minutes to record an 11-7, 11-3, 11-6 win over Kiwi Kylie Lindsay.

World No.1 and defending champion Nicol David won through to the second round after a searching examination from Welsh qualifier Tesni Evans.

The Malaysian superstar had to clear some cobwebs but held off a charging Evans to claim a highly entertaining match 11-3, 8-11, 11-4, 11-8.

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