Laura aims to be on song at Dubai Opera
By ELLIE MAWSON
Reigning PSA Dubai World Series Finals Women’s champion, Laura Massaro, says she is relishing the prospect of defending her title when this year’s tournament gets under way at Dubai Opera from June 6-10.
Massaro won the 2015-16 World Series Finals in the shadow of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, by twice coming from behind to defeat Raneem El Welily and lift one of the biggest titles of her career.
But the 33-year-old admits she will have to be at her very best to make it back-to-back titles as she expect this year’s tournament to be tougher than ever after the unpredictable nature of the season.
“Last year was an unbelievable experience, to go into a season ending event against the top eight and win is something I’m really proud of,” said Massaro.
“It’s arguably the toughest event to win because the level is so high from day one. And this year, going in as defending champ makes it a little different. I know exactly what to expect but I’m really excited.
“I can’t get too far ahead though – I will just go into the pool game trying to play my best and see where it takes me because this year has been the most unique season I’ve ever played in.
“When I first came on Tour players like Sarah Fitz-Gerald, Carol Owens and Cassie Jackman won the big titles and then it shifted to the Grinhams before Nicol (David) dominated.
“But this season there’s been a different winner, different finalists and different names at nearly every major event – which is great for the sport – and shows how high the level is. In Dubai there are eight high quality athletes and we all have different traits, training styles and philosophies.
“I feel proud, as the eldest alongside Nicol in that group, that I’m still staying with the players in what is probably my third era in women’s squash as the game is ever changing.”
This year’s World Series Finals features a $160,000 equal prize fund for both the men and women and a unique best of three games format throughout the group stages and semi-finals – before reverting to the traditional best of five format for the final – something which Massaro, who finished third in the Road to Dubai Standings, enjoys.
“You have to come out of the blocks as quick as you can because the first four or five points can be crucial,” said the English number one, who will be joined by compatriots Alison Waters and Sarah-Jane Perry in Dubai.
“I enjoy that best of three format and think it was exciting and I’m happy to be back in that line-up.
“It’s great that there’s a good English contingent going this year as well and it will be exciting to have the other girls there as well. As a Brit as well it’s always nice to get a bit of sun and I find that if I can bring a little bit of holiday time and combine it with the squash side that helps me be more relaxed and give my all on court.
“Overall I have great memories from the event last year and the Dubai Opera pictures have looked amazing – to put the glass court there shows how adaptable the sport can be – so I’m really looking forward to it.”
The groups for the PSA Dubai World Series Finals will be announced on Monday June 5, with the tournament beginning a day later and lasting up until the finals on Saturday June 10 – all of the action will be shown live on SQUASHTV (rest of world) and Eurosport Player (Europe only).
Tickets for the World Series Finals can be purchased at https://dubaiopera.etixdubai.com/shows/show.aspx?sh=PSAUMB
Picture courtesy of PSA