Top ranked Laura off to flyer in Open

Laura Massaro defeated Americas Olivia Blatchford in the first round of the British Open (photo: PSA)

Laura Massaro defeated Americas Olivia Blatchford in the first round of the British Open (photo: PSA)

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Chorley’s World No.1 Laura Massaro lived up to her billing in the first round of the British Open.

The top seed got her campaign off to a flyer with a comprehensive victory over America’s Olivia Blatchford in Hull.

Massaro – who won this prestigious event in 2013 and has been the runner-up the previous two years – raced into a 6-0 lead in the first game.

She took advantage of every half chance presented to her by Blatchford before easing through the gears to record a routine win comfortably 11-2, 11-5, 11-6.

“It’s been a crazy few months for me especially after becoming World No.1 after being on tour for so long,” said Massaro.

“It was really exciting to be coming here as the top seed.

“I have so many good memories from playing in Hull and I look forward to coming back to the tournament every year.

“It’s nice to play in front of a home crowd as well which makes it even more special so hopefully I can have a good week.

“My focus is on enjoying my squash and winning those major titles and travelling the world as part of the Tour to try and create something that I can build on after my career.

“It feels like squash has really come together over the past few years and we’re all fighting as one to generate more publicity and opportunities in the sport so it’s an exciting time to be part of the PSA World Tour.”

Massaro was joined in the second round by No.3 seed and ex-world No.1 Raneem El Welily of Eygypt. She enjoyed a routine win over Belgium qualifier Nele Gilis 11-5, 11-3, 11-3.

There were also wins for France’s No.5 seed Camille Serme and fellow top-10 stars Nouran Gohar (Eygypt), Annie Au, of Hong Kong, and England’s Sarah-Jane Perry.

Massaro had a rest day on Wednesday and is due back on court on Thursday for her second round match against Denmark’s Line Hansen , who caused a surprise in the first round by beating No. 14 seed Delia Arnold of Malaysia.

In an epic five-game match, which lasted over a hour, Hansen came from behind to win 9-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-9.

In the men’s draw James Willstrop joined perennial English domestic rival Nick Matthew in the last 16 after an impressive win over World No.6 Tarek Momen.

He now goes up against World No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy – the man he dumped out of the 2015 World Championship in the third round.

“That was a brutal first round match,” said Willstrop. “I had to approach it like a final because it’s such a tough game against Tarek.

“I’m playing the World No.1 but if I can beat Tarek, then I’m in good form so I’m happy with the shape I’m in.”