Laura’s strong US defence policy

Laura Massaro in US Open first-round action (squashpics.com)
Laura Massaro in US Open first-round action (squashpics.com)

Defending Delaware Investments US Open champion Laura Massaro got her 2016 tournament campaign off to a winning start courtesy of a dominant victory over Kanzy Emad El Defrawy at Philadelphia’s Drexel University.

Chorley ace Massaro tasted success during last week’s NetSuite Open and carried her form into the second PSA World Series tournament of the season, commanding the court to breeze into the second round.

“I played well last week in San Francisco and I got some good training in before coming here for this event,” said Massaro after her straight-games win over Egyptian qualifier El Defrawy.

“I’m feeling good and I’m happy to get off to a winning start.

“Kanzy is great fun to watch but horrible to play – the ball always comes back and that can make you edgy, so I’m happy with how I came through.”

Massaro cut a polished figure as she outclassed El Defrawy in all areas of the court to extend her current winning streak to nine consecutive matches.

The victory set up a second-round encounter with India’s Joshna Chinappa, who beat Egypt’s Heba El Torky in five games, while Indian No.2 Dipika Palikal Karthik lost out to home favourite Amanda Sobhy in a topsy-turvy encounter.

Pallikal Karthik stormed into a one-game lead, outgunning and outmuscling the traditionally relentless attacker that is world No.6 Sobhy.

But the match was flipped upside down after that as the Hong Kong Open runner-up from Boston moved through the gears to put the Indian to the sword in a ruthless display of attacking intent.

“Dipika came out firing – she’s a strong attacking player and I was scrambling and defending the whole time in that first game,” said Sobhy.

“I knew at some point she’d start making mistakes so I just relaxed and found my shots and was happy to come out with a 3-1 win.

“There is definitely a bit of pressure on me coming here having reached the final in Hong Kong, but this is like a home tournament for me.

“It’s the US Open, its one of the best tournaments in the world and it’s exciting to play in front of a home crowd, so hopefully I can do well here this week.”

Defending men’s champion Gregory Gaultier, meanwhile, was equally as ruthless and impressive as both Massaro and Sobhy, as he dismissed seasoned English campaigner Daryl Selby in straight games.

Gaultier remained calm during a lengthy injury-enforced break in the first game to assert himself on proceedings and get his defence off to the perfect start.

“Daryl is one of the toughest first-round matches you can get but sometimes a tough first round match is good because it can activate you and get you in a good dynamic from the start,” said Gaultier.

“The interruption at the start with the injury break made it a little more difficult because it can mess with the rhythm but thankfully we were able to play the match and I’m pleased to get off to a winning start.”

The Frenchman will now face qualifier Paul Coll in the second round after the world No.34 from New Zealand upset Australia’s world No.15 Ryan Cuskelly.