From MATT WAGG
Nicol David has reached the summit of the World Series Finals for a second successive year after defeating Camille Serme in straight games in Saturday night’s semi-final in front of a capacity crowd.
The seven-time World Open champion, who also won last year’s inaugural World Series Finals at Queens Club in London, needed just 23-minutes to defeat world No.9 Serme in a typically consummate performance, as SkySports broadcast the match around the world.
The Malaysian stormed off to a five-point lead early on in the first game, with Serme struggling to get a foothold on the match. David rarely wastes a lead of that size, and the Frenchwoman could only chip away at the deficit as her opponent did enough to maintain her advantage and close out the first game.
Serme was able to claim a game when the pair played in the Hong Kong Open in December, but despite giving it her all, and leading 6-5 at the midway stage in the second, she was unable to force David to a deciding game. Her game-plan was astute, but ultimately it was the error-count that let the 23-year-old down in the final game, as her search for the necessary winning shots against her opponent sent her too close to the tin.
David spoke of Serme after the match: “It’s so tough to play against someone in the Top10 in the world. It’s the semi-finals now and everyone wants to pick up the World Series title. That’s the best she’s played against me so I’m very pleased to get the win today. We had really good rallies, but she played a few errors in the middle of the second. She’s tough and I needed to work hard and gave her no time to settle.
David progresses to face fellow Pool A player Laura Massaro, having lost to the Englishwoman in straight games on day two of the event. The Malaysian remains optimistic of her chances however, “Although Laura played better in the pool match earlier in the week, I’ve felt better and better as the days have gone on, so I’m looking forward to playing her again in the final.”
Massaro seemed to start slowly in her semi-final against compatriot Jenny Duncalf, who was allowed to build a healthy lead in the first game following some excellently crafted attacking play.
Duncalf attacked confidently, and her lead was strengthened by some unforced errors from the world No.3. She closed out the first game in comfortable style, but Massaro raced back onto court and to a 4-0 and 8-1 lead after utilising a highly effective front-court boast. Under pressure, Duncalf was forced into a number of errors to increase her opponents lead, but built up momentum following a run of points towards the end of the game.
The world No.8 found the confidence to step higher up the court and constructed a comeback to 7-9, before the task became to much of an ask and Massaro gladly brought the game to a close.
Momentum stayed with Duncalf throughout the deciding game, as she stormed to a 4-0 and 5-1 lead. Massaro seemed dejected, but persevered with her attacking trickle-boast and levelled the scores at 7-all with some relentless retrieving.
With the pressure building, both players hit a succession of errors to push the scores higher, until Duncalf gave away a stroke to give her opponent the advantage. Massaro, aided by a tin from her national teammate, clinched the victory and will face David tomorrow in a repeat of last month’s World Open final.
After the game, Massaro praised her opponent: “Jenny played very well. She’s raised the level of her game over the last few months so it’s great to get the win today.
“Having already beaten Nicol this week, it’s a big mental boost going into the final. That said, she won’t want to lose so it’s good for my confidence but she’ll be up for the best of five tomorrow.”
Laura Massaro (ENG) bt Jenny Duncalf (ENG) 6-11, 11-8, 11-9 (45mins)
Nicol David (MAS) bt Camille Serme (FRA) 11-5, 11-8
Laura Massaro (ENG) vs Nicol David (MAS)