Young Egyptian takes over at the top as Laura Massaro loses two-game lead in world final
By Alan Thatcher, Squash Mad Editor
England’s Laura Massaro let slip a two-game advantage as she lost the Women’s World Championship final to Egypt’s Nour El Sherbini in Malaysia.
At 8-8 in the fifth game the title was wide open, but Massaro’s efforts finally took their toll as the 20-year-old El Sherbini became Egypt’s first female world champion and the youngest ever player to hold the title.
Her triumph will also make her the next world number one, knocking Massaro off the top of the rankings after this stunning 6-11, 4-11, 11-3, 11-5, 11-8 victory in 61 minutes.
Massaro was in hot form at the start of the match, winning the opening two games with a mixture of pace and precision, but El Sherbini raise her game to power through the third and fourth.
For Massaro, it was her second five-setter in consecutive days after a dramatic tiebreak win in the semi-finals against Raneem El Welily.
This time she started strongly and built up a 3-1 lead before El Sherbini raised her game and strung together a powerful, positive period of play to lead 6-4 and then 8-6.
The closing stages grew physical, with lots of pushing as the pressure grew with each point.
Massaro’s dogged determination paid off as she dragged herself level at 8-8, with the crowd roaring their encouragement after one massive rally. But she could not maintain that momentum as El Sherbini finished in style.
The Egyptian, the most in-form woman on the PSA World Tour at present, was curiously seeded five, despite a current world ranking of two. She said: “I’m dreaming right now. I didn’t imagine I could win this match.
“I want to say thanks to the Egypt team and everyone here for all the support that pushed me to the end. Laura is a very tough player and even until the end I didn’t think I could do it.
“At 2-0 down I though it was over, but (coach) Amr Shabana just kept telling me to focus and play squash and forget about the score and start again.”
Massaro was gracious in defeat and was full of praise for her opponent. “It’s an honour and privilege to play in a World Championship final, it’s the pinnacle of our year,” she said.
“I’m obviously disappointed to lose but she played an amazing match from 2-0 down. I have to take it on the chin and come back again.
“Thanks to everyone who has helped me, my family and coaches who can’t be here, it’s been unbelievable. It’s been an amazing tournament and we as players couldn’t have asked for more this week.”
Naza PSA World Championship 2016, Bukit Jalil National Squash Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
(5) Nour El Sherbini (Egypt) beat (1) Laura Massaro (England) 6-11, 4-11, 11-3, 11-5, 11-8 (61 mins)
Pictures by Vincent Thian/Decisive Moment Images