Laura opens with World Series win
Chorley's World No.2 Laura Massaro sent out a strong message to her title rivals at the PSA Dubai World Series Finals.
Massaro saw off the challenge of powerful young Egyptian Nouran Gohar in just 30 minutes to open her account with an accomplished win and take an important step towards securing a place in the semi-finals.
At 32, 14 years Gohar’s senior, Massaro utilised all of her experience and steely determination as she countered Gohar’s relentless hard-hitting style.
Massaro was playing with a level of fluidity and control that will give her a huge confidence boost after a series of disappointing results in recent months.
The 2015 US Open and Qatar Classic champion has not lifted a trophy in 2016 but looked to be back to the form that took her to the top of the world rankings in January as she came through 11-7 13-11.
“If it wasn’t for Nour El Sherbini, Gohar would be breaking records all over the place – to be that mature at that age is really special,” said Massaro.
“I was breathing a sigh of relief when she hit the out line during the closing stages of the second game.
“She’s so lethal if you give her too much space but we’ve played each other a lot over the past year, so I know her game quite well and was able to read her a little better because of that.”
The PSA Dubai World Series Finals is the season-ending climax to the both the men’s and women’s PSA World Series tours.
It features the world’s best eight qualified players as they battle it out for the last title of the season.
Players compete for Road To Dubai ranking points at each PSA World Series tournament in a bid to earn one of the coveted eight berths and a chance to compete in one of the sport’s most lucrative events.
The PSA Dubai World Series Finals brings eight players together in two groups of four, with players playing a round-robin, best-of-three series, for a place in the knockout semi-finals and beyond.
And Massaro is enjoying the experience.
She said: “I love it here. As a squash player, your life revolves around training and food and, if I’m on holiday, the only thing I’m bothered about is the food, so it’s brilliant to come here and experience everything in Dubai – it’s great.”
Massaro now plays long-term rival Nicol David, the Malaysian eight-time world champion, knowing that a win would see her through to the semi-finals with a match to spare.