Laura Massaro avenged defeat to Nour El Sherbini in the group stages by retaining her PSA Dubai World Series Finals title Saturday night with a comprehensive 3-0 victory against the world number one.
England’s Massaro, 33, had contemplated retirement in 2015 and took an extended break from the game citing a punishing schedule and loss of form. But she returned and hasn’t looked back as the titles have flowed, including this year’s British Open and last year’s World Series Final triumph.
When these two opponents faced each other a year ago, Massaro lost a five-set thriller 3-2 to the young Egyptian, with the win seeing the 21-year-old replace the veteran as the world number one.
But having fought the urge to retire in recent years, Massaro revealed she will be sticking around as long as she’s winning titles.
“I feel as long as I’m in contention to win titles then I’m happy,” said the Great Yarmouth-born world number four.
“I keep saying every World Series event we play, I’m one of the older ones now. To be able to win the odd one and get to finals makes me feel I’m still in contention and win titles.
“If that’s still happening I’ll carry on playing. I’m not going to be around long if I’m not winning. I’m proud of my efforts, the training I’m putting in and getting back to back titles.”
Dubai is a special place for Massaro for a few reasons. Apart from winning two end-of-season titles, it’s also where she came to find solace when she was contemplating calling it a day.
“I came to Dubai when I felt I’d almost had enough,” she added.
“And it put everything in perspective and I realised I still had more to achieve. Luckily in the last two years I have achieved a decent amount and I’m enjoying my squash. As long as that’s the case that’s the main thing.”
Massaro is the first woman to reach two World Series Finals showpieces and her 11-8, 12-10, 11-5 win last night puts her level with Malaysia’s Nicol David with two wins – she lost the 2012/13 final to David.
The first two sets were close last night, with Massaro getting the edge in both, keeping calm and digging in when required, while El Sherbini seemed audibly frustrated with herself.
After going down 2-0 she knew she would have to win three sets on the bounce to stand any chance, but Massaro opened up a massive 8-3 lead, and El Sherbini had no riposte.
“I’m really happy with my performance overall. To get off in three is unbelievable,” added Massaro.
“To get back to back titles is unbelievable. I was thinking if I could get out of the group it would be really good.
“The match I was most nervous for was the first as you never know how you’re feeling. It’s been a long break since the last tournament and I was off colour a bit so that added to the nerves. I had a dream start with a 2-0 win against Nicol and I’ve just got better and better.
Massaro had complained of a cold after her semi-final triumph against Nouran Gohar on Friday, but said a good night’s sleep and some hotel room service had perked her up.
“I got to bed at 04:00 and I’ve been trying to get up to make breakfast at 10:00. Last night I just said I’d sleep until I wake up.
“I got up about 11.45 and ordered room service and felt so much better all day. I think I’ve been missing that extra hour or two so today I felt completely different.”
As for world number one El Sherbini, she had no complaints the better player one, while she also played down suggestions a wrist injury she suffered in her semi-final defeat of Camille Serme had any part to play in her defeat.
“No it was fine, I didn’t have any problem,” she said of the injury to her right wrist, which was again strapped up.
“Laura played amazing and was consistent the whole match. She was the better player today and deserved to win. It was a bad day. I played her two days ago and you need to change your plan so she won’t know the same things you do, that’s the challenging thing.”