Tuesday, December 5, 2023

WSA: Massaro downs David at Queen’s

Laura Massaro on the attack against Nicol David. Pictures by JORDAN MANSFIELD

Massaro Gains Revenge For World Open Final Defeat


Laura Massaro was able to extract small vengeance for her World Open final defeat after beating Nicol David on day two of the World Series Finals.

Massaro became the second English player to cause a rankings upset at Queen’s Club, following Jenny Duncalf’s defeat of world No.2 Raneem El Weleily yesterday afternoon.

The first rally was a sign of things to come from both Massaro and the world No.1, as neither player wasted any time in attacking all four corners of the court.  Massaro established a small lead early on, but was soon pegged back by the Malaysian.  The scores stayed level throughout the first game until Massaro reached game-ball with David just a point behind.  A long, painstaking rally ensued as Massaro waited patiently for the opportunity to attack.  An error never game though and it was the Englishwoman who made the mistake, allowing David the tiebreak opportunity.  Two winning shots from Massaro made up for this however, as she closed out the first game.

A similar story unfolded in the second game, with nothing separating the pair through to the midway point.  David started to edge ahead at 8-5, but a succession of uncharacteristic errors from the seven-time world champion allowed Massaro back into the contest. A further tin from the Malaysian offered up an unlikely match-ball for the world No.3 and a reaction forehand volley drop winner completed the win for Massaro.

A beaming Laura told audiences after the match: “I feel I played well.  You have to play well against Nicol, otherwise you’re off court before you know it.  She’s just won her 7th world title, so she’s playing well which makes winning today even more special, given our final last week.  She’s a great champion and she’ll definitely be back.

“I was just really focussed on what I needed to do to win the match today.  She’s beaten me quite comfortably in our last few matches. Even though they’ve been quite hard, they’ve still been 3-0 or 3-1.  So it’s just a case of me trying to execute my game plan.  I’ve beaten her before so its not too much of a surprise when I’m in a winning situation because I know that I can, but you don’t get yourself into those situations unless you’re doing the right things.”

Laura Massaro celebrates victory. Picture by JORDAN MANSFIELD

The first match of the day saw Natalie Grinham keep her competition hopes alive by gaining her first win of the World Series Finals, beating Annie Au of Hong Kong.

The world No.12 claimed a narrow first game on the tie-break, despite her backhand length often getting her into difficulty.  Au fought back to 8-8 after an early deficit and forced the tiebreak with a more consistent game-plan.  The Dutchwoman’s experience paid off as she closed out the first game, and seemed to have broken the Hong Kong international’s resolve in the exchanges that followed.

Grinham’s retrieval was consummate, and she utilised a long backhand drop that caused Au some serious problems.  She proved too clever for the younger player in the end, and keeps her World Series Finals campaign alive to face Nicol David tomorrow’s last group stage day.

In Pool B, another surprise result saw 18-year-old Nour El Sherbini claim another unfancied victory on English soil against compatriot Raneem El Weleily. The opening exchanges were fairly even but Sherbini refused to give in against the world No.2, and the familiarity between the pair seemed to work more in the younger player’s advantage as she closed out the first game.

The teen’s romp continued as she stormed to a 5-0 lead in the second game, and all Weleily could do from there was to chip away at the deficit.  Sherbini looked fresh and sprightly around the court, and was lightning quick in her retrieval of Weleily’s attacking efforts.  The older player, only 24-years-old herself, never settled into the attacking rhythm for which she’s known, and a sublime backhand crosscourt volley-drop from Sherbini ended the contest, leaving Weleily’s chance of progression extremely slim.

Following two unlikely Pool B results yesterday, the two victorious players Jenny Duncalf and Camille Serme were facing each other on both the back of a promising end to 2012.  Duncalf, who defeated Weleily on day one, was unable to exert a similar performance today, and admitted her disappointment at the way the match had gone.  Serme’s attacking play was efficient and precise throughout, crafting her points well and working Duncalf around the court.  Some excellent length allowed her time on the tee to punish the loose return, and this was a repeated strategy throughout her two-game win.  Serme raced to a 7-0 lead in the second game with the Englishwoman cutting a dejected figure on court, a stark contrast to her enthusiastic display yesterday afternoon.

“You can’t leave the ball that loose against Camille,” she explained afterwards.  “She played really well and if you put it on her racket like that then you’re going to lose.  Tomorrow’s another day though and hopefully a good result can see me through.”

Serme was pleased with the result after her win, but refused to speculate about her progression to the semi-finals on Saturday.  She said: “I’m pleased with my performance today.  I’ve been working on some new things with my coach at home and it seems to have worked really well today.

“I’m very pleased, though we have had some other upsets today so I don’t know yet about the semi-finals.  If I make it though, of course I’ll be very happy!”


Thursday results:

Pool A

Natalie Grinham (NED) bt Annie Au (HKG) 14-12, 11-4

Laura Massaro (ENG) bt Nicol David (MAS) 12-10, 11-9

Pool B

Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt Raneem El Weleily (EGY) 11-8, 11-8

Camille Serme (FRA) bt Jenny Duncalf (ENG) 11-7, 11-4


Friday fixtures:

Pool A

13:00  Nicol David (MAS) vs Natalie Grinham (NED)

13:45  Laura Massaro (ENG) vs Annie Au (HKG)

Pool B

15:00  Raneem El Weleily (EGY) vs Camille Serme (FRA)

15:45  Nour El Sherbini (EGY) vs Jenny Duncalf (ENG)

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