Published on April 25th, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Ricciardo and Kvyat challenge Malaysia’s World Squash Champion
In terms of competitive spirit there are few athletes with quite as big a will to win as Formula One drivers, so when on the eve of this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix weekend we set Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat the challenge of taking on one of the world’s finest squash players in a battle to see which Infiniti Red Bull Racing driver could make the biggest racket on court (racquet, geddit), then there was no stopping them.
After making the journey from the Sepang Circuit to nearby Marina Putrajaya, Dan and Dany were introduced to their opponent, Malaysia’s Nicol David, the world’s number one women’s squash player.
Nicol, who won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last year, is currently in training for the British Open in Hull which starts on 11th May, so is firmly at the top of her game.
The boys were thus challenged to see which of them, Dan or Dany, could survive on court the longest before Nicol reached a score of 11 points.
After a warm-up led by Nicol, Dany was first on court. The young Russian reckoned he had a sneaky advantage over his team-mate having been an occasional player during the time he spent living in Milton Keynes during his junior racing years.
The Russian Rocket gave it his all, bringing his A-game to the contest. He was momentarily hampered by having to use a racquet unbalanced by the attachment of a Go-Pro camera but he was soon back in the swing and put in a stellar, sweat-drenched performance.
It wasn’t long before Nicol reached the 11-point mark, however, and that meant Daniel, who’d been busy courtside picking up tips on Nicol’s game, was thrown into battle.
Nicol is famed across Malaysia for her constant broad smile, so pitting her against the ever-smiling Australian resulted in gales of laughter from both as Daniel, who later confessed to also being an occasional player some years ago, pushed himself to the limit to try to stay in the game.
“It was pretty cool playing with Nicol,” said the victorious Daniel afterwards. “I’ve played squash a few times and I do like my racquet sports but it’s more been tennis and table tennis. I think the last time I played was in the UK about four or five years ago. But it’s easy enough to get your eye back in. But squash is really demanding. It’s very intense, very high heart rate. I only played for about five minutes but it felt like I’d been playing for an hour. Nicol made us work for it and I do feel that she was going easy on us. I’m sure she was! It was nice to build up a bit of a sweat and do something different. We’ll be out at the track for the next three days, so it’s really nice to break it up with some other activities and to meet other top athletes.”
The Aussie star was also pleased with his on-court performance.
“I felt I did OK – not on the scoreboard, but I think it was alright! Dany and I played here and it was down to whoever lasted the longest. I narrowly beat Dany and… I won’t lie, I’m pretty happy about that!”