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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Massaro hangs on to seal dream final with Nicol

Lee Hortonhttps://squashmad.com
Former Sun, Mirror, People and Sunday Express sports executive. Knows a bit about newspapers and the art of talking a good game. Brighter than some but a way to go to match others.

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Laura Massaro delivered the final promoters and fans wanted – a showdown with world No.1 Nicol David –  but it took every ounce of her reserves before winning her US Open semi final with the amazing Low Wee Wern last night.

The No.2 seed from England was taken to the limit before finally nailing Wern 3-2 after 86 minutes of thrilling squash as she reached her second U.S. Open final in three year.

This was a cat and mouse type of match, lots of long, patient rallies, one or the other upping the pace when a chance arose, or scrambling to retrieve a shot then settling down again. And there was little to split them, either within the rallies or on the scoreboard.

For the record, Massaro recovered from 1-4 to take the first 11-6; Low was a point or two ahead for most of the second, taking it 11-9; Massaro pushed ahead from 3-all in the third to a 7-3 lead which she converted 11-6; Low came from 4-1 down in the fourth to level at 6-all, then led before taking it 11-9.

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So it came to a decider, and a tense one at that. Again it was the Englishwoman who took the lead, 3-1 then 6-4, but Low just kept going and going and going, and brought it back to 7-all.

Massaro took the lead 8-7, appealed a let which was over-ruled into a stroke for 9-7, hit a winning boast from deep for 10-7 and a loud “C’mon,” then won the match with just about the only shot she had been consistently winning points with, a little crosscourt flicked dropshot.

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Massaro had won the match well, taking the initiative at the end and it paid off, but she did have to work for it!

“I started well, it’s just a pity I couldn’t carry on like that for the whole match,” she said. “But Wee Wern played well, she’s like a human sponge, she just keeps soaking everything up and you end up just having to go for something.

“It’s great to be back in the final in a big event like this. It was a long break over the summer so it feels good to be back playing these events again.”

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David Back in the Final

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Defending champion Nicol David returned to the final of the U.S. Open with a straight-games win over Joelle King that was, in the end, fairly straightforward but had its nervous moments too.

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Looking calm and playing with her usual authority, David denied King the opportunities to attack that had taken the Kiwi to a 6-0 lead in the deciding game of last year’s semifinal at this same venue.

David led 8-2 in the opening game, but now, a year later, it was King’s turn to mount a comeback as she levelled at 8-all and earned a game ball at 10-9, helped along the way by some uncharacteristic errors from David.

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The world number one held firm though, took the game 14-12 and played the next two games the way she had the first half of that first game, bossing them 11-4, 11-6 and a place in the final. No doubt the sizeable and noisy Malaysian crowd will be back  for that.

“I started well but Joelle came back strong at the end of the first,” said David. “I told myself I couldn’t let her get that one, so I dug in, then managed to push through in the next two games.

“It’s good to be back in the final, I’ll just rest up, focus on what I need to do and go out and give it all …”

2] Laura Massaro (ENG) bt [6] Low Wee Wern (MAS) 11-6, 9-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7 (86m)

[1] Nicol David (MAS) bt [5] Joelle King (NZL)  14-12, 11-4, 11-6 (38m)

[1] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [4] Karim Darwish (EGY)  11-7, 11-4, 12-10 (46m)

[3] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [2] James Willstrop (ENG)   11-3, 11-6, 11-5 (42m)

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