Gaultier and Massaro make it a month to remember
By NATHAN CLARKE in Hong Kong
Newly crowned Men’s World Champion, and new Men’s World No.1, Gregory Gaultier and the new Women’s World No.2 Laura Massaro have been named as PSA Players of the Month for November, after they both performed exceptionally to secure prestigious PSA World Tour titles.
Gaultier hit the ground running in November, following up his victory in October’s U.S. Open to reach the final of the Qatar Classic after prevailing over several top 20 opponents en route to the final, including World No.10 Karim Abdel Gawad.
The French No.1 ultimately fell short in the final, losing 3-1 to Mohamed Elshorbagy, but the ‘French General’ then tasted the sweetest success of his career to date when he descended on Bellevue, Washington for the 2015 Men’s World Championship – when he put the memory of four previous final failures to bed by lifting the coveted trophy for the first time in his career.
Despite suffering from illness at the start of the tournament, Gaultier powered past his first few opponents before producing an outstanding display in an epic quarter-final encounter against rising Egyptian star Ali Farag, eventually winning 3-2.
The Frenchman then overcame tournament giant-killer James Willstrop, who had defeated then World No.1 Elshorbagy, 3-0 in the semi-final to reach his fifth World Championship final, setting up a meeting with No.7 seed Omar Mosaad.
Gaultier commanded the final against the tall Egyptian, controlling the pace perfectly and playing countless well-polished winners to triumph in straight games and lift the trophy in emotional scenes with the Frenchman rising to the summit of the World Rankings in the process.
On the Women’s Tour Laura Massaro continued her blistering form, following up September’s U.S. Open triumph to collect back-to-back PSA World Series titles after winning the illustrious Qatar Classic title after defeating three top 10 players in magnificent style.
The World No.3 overcame qualifier Menna Nasser before struggling against unseeded compatriot Fiona Moverley before eventually scheduling an eagerly awaited quarter-final clash with Egyptian ace Nouran Gohar.
Massaro produced a competent display to beat Gohar 3-1 before breezing through her semi-final meeting with Omneya Abdel Kawy, dispatching the World No. 6 in clinical fashion to win 3-0.
Massaro then met another Egyptian star, Nour El Sherbini, in the final. Massaro raised her standard of play to an astounding level to come through 3-2 in a thrilling battle to clinch the title.
As a reward for her outstanding success, Massaro now holds a dominant lead in the PSA World Series Rankings, boasting an impressive total of 200 points. The English woman will now be hoping to prolong her good form to challenge for the Hong Kong Open, where a potential World No.1 spot will also be up for grabs.
Pictures by STEVE LINE (www.squashpics.com) courtesy of PSA