Massaro tops her group

Laura Massaro in action in here final group game (photo: PSA)
Laura Massaro in action in here final group game (photo: PSA)

Defending champion Laura Massaro finished top of Group B in squash’s Women’s 2016/17 PSA Dubai World Series Finals despite losing to World Champion Nour El Sherbini on day three in Dubai Opera.

Massaro had a 100 per cent record going into the match and took the opener in comfortable fashion, before the 33-year-old from Chorley went match-ball up.

El Sherbini fought back impressively though to halt Massaro’s rhythm and level the match at 1-1 and the world No.1 surged to an 11-2 triumph in the third to inflict a first defeat of the tournament upon Massaro.

The Lancashire ace finishes top of the group, however, due to her having a superior percentage of games won that El Sherbini and she will lock horns with world junior champion Nouran Gohar for a place in a third successive final.

Massaro’s defeat also means that compatriot Sarah-Jane Perry misses out on a place in the last four despite her win over Nicol David, with Perry needing Massaro to beat El Sherbini in order to reach the semi-finals.

“Sarah-Jane and I practiced together this morning and she knows that I always want to win no matter what,” said Massaro.

“It would have been really good if I could have helped her out and I’m really disappointed that I couldn’t. I guess it shows how tight the group is that it went to down to things like games won in the end, so sorry to SJ, I feel bad.”

Alison Waters was the other Englishwoman to compete on day three and she lost to Gohar to finish Group A without a win.

The Men’s tournament saw former World No.1 James Willstrop qualify for the semi-finals for the first time since 2012, when he reached the final.

With one win and one defeat under his belt, 33-year-old Willstrop needed to beat Farag to reach the last four, but was under cosh from the first point as an inspired Farag surged to victory in the opening game.

Willstrop weathered the storm though in the second game to edge out an 11-9 victory and he closed out game three for the loss of six points to seal second place in Group B and claim his semi-final berth where he will face world champion Karim Abdel Gawad.