Defending champion Laura Massaro off to a winning start at PSA Dubai World Series Finals

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Defending champion: Laura Massaro

The ATCO PSA Dubai World Series Finals began with a bang with defending champion Laura Massaro defeating world number two Raneem El Welily in a relentless opening day fixture.

At the Emirates Golf Club, Egyptian El Welily took the first game 11-8 in an exciting 12-minute encounter, only for the defending champion to battle back and take the second 9-11, to set up a nail biting final game.

Massaro made sure of the win with an outrageous behind-the-back winner to secure an 8-11 victory. Speaking to Sport360° after her victory the world number seven said: “I’m chuffed to get a win over Raneem as she’s been playing so well this year. To win the match with a shot like that as well, it’s probably the best shot I’ve ever hit in my life, especially as it was on match ball.”

Success at the tournament means Massaro would become the first player to win the competition three times. However, she insists it’s too early to be thinking about taking the title back home.

“It would be a great thing to add to my CV,” she said. “It’s not going to be easy though, I’ve got to just get out the group to start with.”

Players have to adapt to a new, best-of-three style for the competition, which means there’s little margin for error.

In the day’s first fixture Frenchwoman Camille Serme came from behind to defeat England’s Sarah-Jane Perry 8-11, 12-10, 12-10.

Speaking afterwards Serme said: “Every match is hard this year I’m just happy because we had a fighting game played in a good spirit.

“When you’re one love down it’s more stressful you don’t want to give points away but you still have the urge to attack. I don’t know how I managed to win this one after
being one love down to be honest.”

In the men’s section, in Group B, German Simon Rosner took just 28 minutes to secure victory over Egypt’s Karim Abdel Gawad.

“I think I got off to a good start and that’ll give me confidence for the rest of the week,” said Rosner.

The best-of-three style adds a lot of intensity to the game so I like it.”

In the day’s other men’s group B game, Ali Farag from Egypt defeated France’s Gregory Gaultier 11-9, 11-8.

Tickets are available by visiting www.platinumlist.net.

TUESDAY’s RESULTS:

Nick Matthew (ENG) bt. [5] Tarek Momen (EGY) 11-8, 11-9

[3] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt. [7] Nouran Gohar (EGY) 11-5, 11-4

[1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt. [6] Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 11-8, 9-11, 11-7

[1] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt. [5] Joelle King (NZL) 12-10, 11-7

[2] Ali Farag (EGY) bt. [7] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 11-9, 11-8

[4] Laura Massaro (ENG) bt. [2] Raneem El Welily (EGY) 8-11, 11-9, 11-8

[4] Simon Rösner (GER) bt. [8] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 12-10, 11-6

[6] Camille Serme (FRA) bt. [8] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 8-11, 12-10, 12-10

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Defending champions Mohamed ElShorbagy and Laura Massaro out to retain titles in Dubai

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The world’s best squash players swapped their rackets for clubs as they gathered at Emirates Golf Club ahead of the PSA World Series Finals, which gets underway on Tuesday.

Both the male and female players are competing in the final tournament of the season for a prize fund of AED587,680, the highest in the history of the competition.

Defending men’s champion Mohamed ElShorbagy is the overwhelming favourite heading into the season finale after four wins from seven tournaments this season.

The 27-year-old has clinched victories in Hong Kong, Chicago and El Gouna as well as finishing runner-up at the US Open and British Open.

In what will be his third appearance in Dubai, the Egyptian is confident of retaining his title after another dazzling campaign.

“Last year I wasn’t in great shape and I had a lot of things going on off the court which affected my performance. This year I’ve made it to most of the finals and I feel I’m playing well,” said ElShorbagy..

“In Dubai you have to beat the best players in the world every day, you can’t win this tournament with luck, so you need to be focused.

“Last year I won despite not being on form, whereas this year I am playing well so I have a good chance.

“The competition is very high here though so really anyone who is on their game has a chance of victory.”

The Beast from Alexandria is currently fasting during the holy month of Ramadan but says a change to his regular routine won’t affect his overall performance.

“Luckily I’m playing late so I’ll sleep at 4am, wake up around 3pm, eat a snack at 7pm, play my match and have a meal after, it won’t be an issue,” he said.

Another player looking to retain her crown is ladies champion Laura Massaro. The 34-year-old may not have enjoyed a glittering season by her standards, but five semi-finals in seven tournament is still a formidable return.

The world No6 said: “There’s always pressure being the defending champion and my season hasn’t quite been as good as last year but at the same time this is an end-of-season event we’ve all qualified for, so you can’t let the pressure overshadow the enjoyment of being part of such an event.”

The Preston native had sealed her second British Open title last campaign and reached the final of the Tournament of Champions, but has failed to qualify beyond the last four of a tournament since June 10, 2017.

“I could go through every woman in the finals and tell you why they’d be really hard to play so it’s hard to pick out a particular individual,” she said.

“It’s unique in the way that I didn’t even look at the groups because I knew it would be a tough tournament anyway, no matter who I’m playing.”

Four matches will be played in each afternoon session during the group stage from June 5-9. The group stage matches will begin from 3:00pm.

Tickets for the World Series Finals at Emirates Golf Course are available at www.platinumlist.net.

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Nour El Sherbini leads the eight stars to grace the TCO PSA World Series Finals

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World No. 1 Nour El Sherbini is the poster girl for women’s squash and continues to capture the imagination of the millions of fans who follow the sport worldwide.

With another season set to draw to a close in Dubai this week, can the Egyptian continue her tremendous rise or will her dominance be curtailed in the UAE?

Here, we profile the eight players taking part in the TCO PSA World Series Finals which gets underway at Emirates Golf Club on June 5.

NOUR EL SHERBINI (Egypt)
The 22-year-old has looked unstoppable over the past two years, holding the top ranking for 26 consecutive months. Her notable achievements this season include wins at the Hong Kong Open, Saudi PSA Women’s Masters, Tournament of Champions and British Open. Beaten in last season’s decider in Dubai, the Warrior Princess will be bidding to finish her season on a high.

RANEEM EL WELILY (Egypt)
The reigning world champion has been an effervescent presence among the game’s elite and, alongside El Sherbini, is considered one of the most popular figures on the tour. At 29, the world number two is one of the key favourites and will be aiming for a first win in Dubai after losing the 2016 final to Massaro. Has reached four finals this season as well as winning in El Gouna.

NOUR EL TAYEB (Egypt)
The Windy City Open and US Open champion has enjoyed a stunning season, which also includes reaching the Tournament of Champions final as well as semi-final places in El Gouna and Riyadh. The world number three has the skills and game to topple one of her in-form compatriots.

JOELLE KING (New Zealand)
After claiming gold medals in both the singles and doubles at the Commonwealth Games last month, the world number four will be hoping to continue her career best form this week. The composed Kiwi has the armoury to topple the big guns.

CAMILLE SERME (France)
The Frenchwomen returned to the top five for the first time since February after reaching the semi-final at the British Open last month. A former world No2, Serme has the world-class ability to better her semi-final display in 2017.

NOURAN GOHAR (Egypt)
Egyptian prodigy Gohar is one of the most talented players on the circuit and currently holds the world number six spot. A win earlier this year in Maccau will bolster her confidence as he she attempts to reach the semi-finals for a second successive time in the UAE.

LAURA MASSARO (England)
One of the sport’s key figures, world number seven Massaro has won the last two titles in Dubai and shows no signs of slowing down yet. The 33-year-old has buckets of consistency and class, reaching six semi-finals in her last eight tournaments.

SARAH-JANE PERRY (England)
The Birmingham native reached four quarter-finals and one semi-finals during a consistent campaign to date. In her second appearance in Dubai, the 28-year-old will need to be at her immaculate best if she is to overcome El Welily, Massaro or Serme.

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