Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Laura Massaro meets Nour El Sherbini in World final

Laura Massaro on the attack against Raneem El Welily
Laura Massaro on the attack against Raneem El Welily

It feels like Massaro is taking on the whole Egyptian team


England’s Laura Massaro lived up to her top seeding by battling through to the final of the Naza Women’s World Squash Championship in Malaysia.

After a dramatic tiebreak win at the end of five brutal games against Raneem El Welily, she now looks forward to facing another Egyptian, the No.2 seed Nour El Sherbini.

The clash between the top two players in the world will be a repeat of the 2013 world final, when Massaro claimed her maiden title in Penang.

It almost feels like Massaro is taking on the whole Egyptian team single-handed, having beaten Omneya Abdel Kawy in the quarter-finals.

The 32-year-old from Chorley, Lancashire, almost blew it in spectacular fashion against El Welily. Massaro held four game balls at 10-6 up in the fifth but allowed the Egyptian to hit back and draw level.

However, she held her nerve to win the two-point tie break to clinch victory 11-2, 7-11, 11-9, 6-11, 12-10 in 61 minutes.

 In a tightly-contested opening game, the lead change hands multiple times, with neither player being able to maintain their momentum when they were on top.

Massaro eased to the opener in comfortable style, before El Welily levelled in the second and almost took the third, but surrendered a five-point lead to hand Massaro the initiative.

A blistering start to the fourth from El Welily brought the match back to all square once more but Massaro again took the reigns in the fifth to amass four match balls. El Welily fought back to send the match to a tie-break, but Massaro held out and a fine boast evaded her opponent’s grasp to give the Englishwoman an 11-2, 7-11, 11-9, 6-11, 12-10 victory.

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 Picture Gallery by Vincent Thian/Decisive Moment Images

A relieved Massaro held an ice pack to her face afterwards and said: “Raneem and I always have great battles. She is such a good player.

“If you don’t play her in exactly the right way then you get severely punished. She played well in patches, I played well in patches and in some ways it’s a fair result.

“I have played two World Championship semi-finals on a tie-break against her so I guess that was going through my mind because, if I had done it before, I knew I could do it again.

“It would be amazing to become world champion for a second time. All week I have been saying that you can’t win it in the first or second round but you can certainly lose it. All I’ve done is given myself a chance and that’s really exciting for me.”

Nour El Sherbini in control against Nouran Gohar
Nour El Sherbini in control against Nouran Gohar

Her rival in the final, 20-year-old El Sherbini, became the first Egyptian female to win the British Open last month in Hull.

She followed up her superb quarter-final victory over eight-time World Champion Nicol David with a dominant display against compatriot and World Junior Champion Gohar.

El Sherbini had been pushed all the way to five games by Gohar in the British Open final but she was on fire this time around and controlled proceedings, preventing Gohar from building any rhythm.

After seeing off eight-time World Champion and Malaysian icon Nicol David in the previous round, a superb 29-minutes of squash from the most in-form woman on the PSA World Tour saw her take out Gohar with 11-5 victories in all three games to reach the final.

“Me and Laura have played a lot against each other and she is playing really well this tournament,” said El Sherbini.

“We always play out five games, but I’m going to keep going the way I am. I am going to give it everything and I’m sure it is going to be a good match.

“I really want to win this tournament, for my country, for Raneem and Nouran and for everyone. I really want this badly so I am going to give it everything and hopefully it will be mine this time.”

PSA W185 Naza Women’s World Championship, Bukit Jalil, Malaysia.

[1] Laura Massaro (ENG) bt [3] Raneem El Welily (EGY) 3-2: 11-2, 7-11, 11-9, 6-11, 12-10 (61m)
[5] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt [8] Nouran Gohar (EGY) 3-0: 11-5, 11-5, 11-5 (29m)

LIVE ON TV: In the UK, the final is being broadcast live by BT Sport 1.  

Pictures by Vincent Thian/Decisive Moment Images


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