Chorley’s squash world No.1 Laura Massaro had a successful outing against Olivia Blatchford on the opening day of women’s action at the 2016 JP Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York.
For the first time in tournament history, equal prize money is being offered across both the men’s and women’s draws.
An, title favourites Nicol David, Massaro and Raneem El Welily, the defending champion, signalled their intentions to triumph on the sport’s grandest stage with a trio of dominant first round performances.
Under the stunning chandeliers of Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall the triumvirate – who are currently embroiled in a compelling battle for dominance at the top of the world rankings, ruthlessly dispatched their opposition.
Massaro demolished Blatchford in 38 minutes 3-1, winning 11-6 11-3 5-11 11-7.
After enduring a series of disappointing results during the second half of 2015, recently deposed No.1 El Welily, for whom victory here 12 months ago laid the foundations for her surge towards dethroning Nicol David and ending the Malaysian’s nine-year rankings reign, hinted at a timely return to form as she breezed past Tesni Evans.
The victory sees her move closer to a potential semi-final encounter with in-form Massaro, who took out home hope Blatchford with a composed performance.
“I’m really happy to be back here in New York,” said El Welily, who came through 11-6, 11-6, 11-5 after 30 minutes.
“It’s a great crowd, great venue and great atmosphere to play in and I’m happy with how I played today.
“I was trying hard to make sure I moved up the court and increased the pace and I’m glad that it worked. It’s a good start and hopefully I can keep it going.”
David, who at world No.3 is at her lowest ranking in 10 years, returned to form in December with a decisive victory at the 2015 Hong Kong Open. And she picked up from where she left off prior to the Christmas break with a destructive victory over Victoria Lust.