“I will relish that hostile environment in Egypt”
By SEAN REUTHE
After returning to form at the recent Allam British Open to secure her first PSA World Series title since 2015, England’s World No.2 Laura Massaro says she’s relishing the challenge of travelling to Egypt this week to compete in the Orascom Development PSA Women’s World Championship.
Massaro lost out to Egypt’s World No.1 Nour El Sherbini in last year’s title decider, squandering a 2-0 lead in the final, but after reversing that scoreline en route to lifting the British Open for a second time, she’s hoping to double-up once again by taking on Egypt’s best in their own back yard, in what she thinks will be one of the most competitive World Championships ever.
“A year is a long time in sport so there’s no question of me wanting to make amends for last year,” said the 33-year-old.
“I know, and showed at the British, that I’m capable of putting together a tournament winning week. But I also know just how tough it is to back up from events and how hungry everyone else is.
“All of the girls in the top eight or ten have hit form in recent months and all have the belief that they can win. It’s a hugely exciting time for the fans and the players. Whoever holds it together for the duration of the week and can manage the expectations will win.
“I know from the British Open last week that a home crowd can really spur you on – but they can put a lot of pressure on you as well. In Egypt, the crowd will have high expectations on the home players and for me, I relish that hostile environment and will try and use it to my advantage.”
Despite climbing through the World Rankings to top the standings for the first time in her career in January 2016, Massaro, the 2013 World Champion, failed to win a major title in almost 12 months prior to her victory in Hull.
And she credits a frank and open discussion with her team in the wake of a quarter-finals exit at the Windy City Open in February as the turning point in her recent fortunes.
“After the Windy City Open, I sat down with my team to really reassess where I was at because I felt like, in the big events especially, I was struggling to translate the work in training into on-court success,” said Massaro.
“The Women’s game is moving along at a huge pace, so we analysed what I was trying to achieve and what the objectives are. Seeing people like Nick (Matthew) come out with a new lease of life in the past few months, combined with that reassessment, has really given me a new impetus in training and I feel like the team behind me is stronger now than ever before.
“But to then translate that change in the style we did at the British Open was just unbelievable.
“I knew that I was on the right lines so hopefully now I can carry that form and momentum into the World Champs this week and put another big week together.”
Qualifying for the Orascom Development PSA Women’s World Championship takes place between April 5-6, with the main draw held between April 7-14.
Massaro takes on Mariam Metwally in round one and is seeded to face 2014 runner-up Raneem El Welily in the last eight.
Tickets for the tournament can be purchased at www.e7gezly.com/event/elgounaintlsquashopen and 50% of the ticket price will go to Abu Reesh Hospitals.
Pictures courtesy of PSA