Reigning PSA Dubai World Series Finals women’s champion Laura Massaro says she is relishing the prospect of defending her title when this year’s tournament gets underway at Dubai Opera on June 6.
Massaro won the Dubai World Series Finals last year by twice coming from behind to defeat Raneem El Welily and lift one of the biggest titles of her career.
But the 33-year-old admits she will have to be at her best to make it back-to-back titles as she expects this year’s tournament to be tougher than ever.
“Last year was an unbelievable experience, to go into a season ending event against the top eight and win is something I’m really proud of,” said Massaro.
“It’s arguably the toughest event to win because the level is so high from day one. And this year, going in as defending champ makes it a little different. I know exactly what to expect but I’m really excited.
“I can’t get too far ahead though – I will just go into the pool game trying to play my best and see where it takes me because this year has been the most unique season I’ve ever played in.
“But this season there’s been a different winner, different finalists and different names at nearly every major event – which is great for the sport – and shows how high the level is. In Dubai there are eight high quality athletes and we all have different traits, training styles and philosophies.
“I feel proud, as the eldest alongside Nicol in that group, that I’m still staying with the players in what is probably my third era in women’s squash as the game is ever changing.”
This year’s World Series Finals features a $160,000 (AED 587,712) equal prize fund for both the men and women and a unique best of three games format throughout the group stages and semi-finals – before reverting to the traditional best of five format for the final – something which Massaro, who finished third in the Road to Dubai Standings, enjoys.
“You have to come out of the blocks as quick as you can because the first four or five points can be crucial,” said the English No1, who will be joined by compatriots Alison Waters and Sarah-Jane Perry in Dubai.
“I enjoy that best of three format and think it was exciting and I’m happy to be back in that line-up.
“It’s great that there’s a good English contingent going this year as well and it will be exciting to have the other girls there as well. As a Brit as well it’s always nice to get a bit of sun and I find that if I can bring a little bit of holiday time and combine it with the squash side that helps me be more relaxed and give my all on court.
Tickets for the 2017 PSA Dubai World Series Finals are available to purchase through www.dubaiopera.com or from the Dubai Opera Box Office. For further information on both the PSA World Series and the PSA World Tour, please visit www.worldseriesfinals.com
Squash may seem simple enough as a game in which you hit a ball off the wall, but there’s far more that goes into being a top-notch player than meets the eye.
Few are more aware of what’s needed to be great at the sport than Hadrian Stiff, owner of Elite Squash and coach to some of the world’s best players. With plenty of experience under his belt, Stiff is the perfect tutor to learn the game from and the public will have the chance to get first-hand knowledge from the coach at Elite Squash UAE’s masterclass coaching camp.
To be held next month from June 9-10 at the Aviation Club in Dubai, the camp will offer the rare opportunity to receive training and advice from Stiff, as well as a seat to watch the PSA World Series Finals.
Two players to keep an eye on in the Dubai tournament next month are world No3 Mohamed El Shorbagy and world No5 Marwan El Shorbagy. The Egyptian brothers have taken the sport by storm, with Stiff having worked with them to maximise their talents.
That same type of professional coaching will be available at the masterclass camp, where players will learn about movement, technique and tactics through personal feedback and video tutorials.
After a thrilling finish in the last qualifying event for the 2017 PSA Dubai World Series Finals at El Gouna, Egypt, 2016 defending champion Gregory Gaultier of France kept alive hopes of a fourth PSA World Series Finals title in a row when he heads to Dubai in June.
Gaultier, known as “The General”, defeated Karim Abdel Gawad to take his 38th career PSA World Tour title in El Gouna, and became the first non-Egyptian winner of the tournament.
Gaultier is among a star studded line up of players who are now packing their bags for Dubai, where the top eight ranked male and female players in the PSA Road to Dubai rankings will contest the PSA Dubai World Series Finals from June 6-10 at Dubai Opera.
Gaultier is in blistering form, winning the last three qualification events, and his current unbeaten run of 19 matches is the longest of his glittering 17-year career.
Although he will surrender the world number one position next month to Gawad, who finished the qualification race in first place just five points clear of Gaultier, the 34 year old’s recent form sees him come to Dubai as the favourite to defend the title he won last year.
Egypt’s impressive dominance of squash continues, claiming four of the eight qualification places. Former world number one Mohamed Elshorbagy finished in third position with his brother Marwan, the PSA Men’s Young Player of the Year in 2016, in fourth. Another former world number one Ramy Ashour finished in equal seventh despite battling injuries throughout the year.
England’s former world number one Nick Matthew also had an injury interrupted season, but still managed two runner-up finishes and qualified in fifth. His countryman James Willstrop, also a former world number one, came in in sixth. Germany’s Simon Rosner made five quarter finals throughout the season and finished in equal seventh with Ashour.
The women’s line-up was finalised in March and will feature world number one Nour El Sherbini of Egypt, defending champion Laura Massaro of England, France’s Camille Serme, eight-time World Champion Nicol David of Malaysia, Egypt’s Raneem El Welily and Nouran Gohar, and England’s Sarah-Jane Perry and Alison Waters.
Tickets for the 2017 PSA Dubai World Series Finals are available to purchase through www.dubaiopera.com or from the Dubai Opera Box Office. For further information on both the PSA World Series and the PSA World Tour, visit www.worldseriesfinals.com.