Sunday, February 25, 2024

Laura Massaro sets up World blockbuster with Raneem El Welily

Laura Massaro edges out Joelle King (left)

British Open repeat for England’s World No.2 in El Gouna


England’s World No.2 Laura Massaro and Egypt’s World No.4 Raneem El Welily will face off in the quarter-finals of a PSA World Tour event for the second tournament in a row after both players rose to wins on the fourth day of the Orascom Development PSA Women’s World Championship.

Massaro, the 33-year-old from Preston, overcame New Zealand’s Joelle King in a tight four-game encounter, hitting consistent lines despite a drop in intensity in the third game, to win it by an 11-7, 11-8, 5-11, 13-11 margin.

“The fourth was really close and I felt like I had pulled away a bit, but then she ended up coming back really well and I was in a little bit of a battle really,” said Massaro.

“I think I started quite well. Joelle was a little bit off at the beginning but she began to up her game a little bit. I felt like she started hitting to my forehand a little bit more and was keeping it off my backhand.

“It took me a little while to rejig my plan a little bit and try and figure that out. I was perhaps a little bit edgy towards the end more than anything. Joelle is such a good player, she’s so physical and I’m just pleased to get through that in the end.”

Massaro defeated El Welily in the last eight of last month’s Allam British Open and will look to put in a repeat performance against the former World No.1 after El Welily dispatched United States No.2 Olivia Blatchford in a comfortable 3-0 triumph.

Raneem El Welily in front of Olivia Blatchford

Blatchford, competing in the second round of the World Championship for the first time in her career, tried in vein to compete with El Welily, but couldn’t find any rhythm.

Struggling to adapt to the dead conditions on court early on – particularly failing to hit her targets in the back corners – she gifted control to El Welily.

And the Egyptian, with the benefit of a match on the glass court already behind her, settled early, hitting with perfect weight and precision to dictate proceedings courtesy of a sumptuous display that marks her out as a genuine title threat.

“I’m definitely happy with the way I played today,” said El Welily. “It was the first time I’ve ever played Olivia so to come away with a 3-0 win is pleasing and unusual for me.

“I know she’s played on glass courts before but I think the conditions today were very different to what she’s experienced before. It’s windy on there and you never know what’s going to happen with the ball – you have to react and take it as it comes.”

Camile Serme and Emily Whitlock

French World No.3 Camille Serme is also through to the last eight after she dispatched World No.13 Emily Whitlock in straight games to set up a quarter-final meeting with Indian No.1 Joshna Chinappa, who saw off former World No.3 Alison Waters, winning 11-9 in the fifth after a brutal 66-minute battle.

Serme, seeded second for the tournament, took the ball early to crash in a series of devastating backhand volleys and punished any loose shots from Whitlock in clinical fashion to take an 11-4, 11-6, 11-5 victory.

“I knew she beat Alison at the British Open, so I was focused from the start and didn’t want to give her any hope,” said Serme.

“I came into the match with a clear tactical plan. Joshna is a very powerful girl, she hits the ball really hard and I think on that court with the wind it might be tricky to try lobs and shots like that because the ball can go out easily.” 

PSA W165 Orascom Development PSA Women’s World Championship, El Gouna, Egypt.

Second Round (Bottom Half):
[3] Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt Olivia Blatchford (USA) 3-0: 11-5, 11-6, 11-1 (24m)
[5] Laura Massaro (ENG) bt [9] Joelle King (NZL) 3-1: 11-7, 11-8, 5-11, 13-11 (50m)
[12] Joshna Chinappa (IND) bt [8] Alison Waters (ENG) 3-2: 11-5, 7-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9 (66m)
[2] Camille Serme (FRA) bt [13] Emily Whitlock (ENG) 3-0: 11-4, 11-6, 11-5 (30m)

Quarter-Finals (Top Half, To Be Played April 11):
[1] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v [7] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)
[6] Nicol David (MAS) v [4] Nouran Gohar (EGY)

Quarter-Finals (Bottom Half, To Be Played April 12):
[3] Raneem El Welily (EGY) v [5] Laura Massaro (ENG)
[12] Joshna Chinappa (IND) v [2] Camille Serme (FRA) 

Pictures courtesy of PSA


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