June 11, 2017, DUBAI UAE: The PSA Dubai World Series Finals reached a thrilling conclusion tonight at Dubai Opera as England’s Laura Massaro successfully defended her title, and Egypt’s Mohamed Elshorbagy claimed his first PSA World Series Finals trophy.
The 33 year old Massaro was appearing in the final of the World Series Finals for a third time in a row and in beating World Champion Nour El Sherbini, became only the second woman after Nicol David to win two World Series Finals titles.
The pair had met earlier on in the tournament – with El Sherbini winning the best-of-three games contest to qualify second in Group B – but in the best-of-five games final, it was Massaro who emerged the victor after claiming an 11-8, 12-10, 11-5 victory to prevail in 35 minutes.
“I’m really happy with my performance overall,” said Massaro.
“It took a lot of focus, discipline, hard work and I had to keep pushing throughout the whole match. The first two games were really tight and I managed to get that good lead in the third.
“It’s unbelievable because I was just thinking that it would be really good if I could get out of the group. I’m really happy and I can enjoy a few days off now.
“I’m one of the oldest ones on Tour now and as long as I feel as though I’m still in contention to win titles then I’m happy. To be able to win the British Open, to reach the final of the ToC [Tournament of Champions] and to win here really makes me think that I’m still in contention and I can still win titles.
“As long as that’s the case, I’ll keep on playing. I’m not going to be around for very long if I’m not winning titles, so I’m really proud of my efforts and proud of the training I did before I came and I’m excited to get back-to-back titles.”
Massaro, who beat World Junior Champion Nouran Gohar to seal her final berth, raced out of the traps in the opening game as she forced El Sherbini into the back of the court to nullify the World No.1’s attacking potential and she duly took a one-game lead.
El Sherbini played some fantastic defensive squash in the second game to go 4-1 ahead, but Massaro’s incredible consistency paid dividends as she doubled her advantage courtesy of a tie-break win without making a single unforced error.
That victory killed off El Sherbini’s resistance and Massaro was ruthless in the third and final game as she surged to the win, dropping just five points to lift the 22nd Tour title of her career.
El Sherbini conceded that Massaro was the better player on the day, saying: “It wasn’t the best result, Laura played amazing and she was the better player. It was a bad day for me.
“There were a lot of unforced errors and I maybe had the wrong tactic, she was more patient than me. We played two days ago and the challenge was to change your plan – I was trying to attack early and made too many errors.”
James Willstrop then stepped on court hoping to make it a double celebration for England as he faced Mohamed ElShorbagy of Egypt. But it was not to be as world number 3 ElShorbagy put in a masterful performance to claim his first ever PSA World Series Finals title and his first Tour title since November’s U.S. Open.
ElShorbagy, a runner-up in the 2013 edition, had recovered from two match balls down against Germany’s Simon Rösner in a 62-minute epic to seal his final berth, but showed no lasting effects as he went toe-to-toe with Willstrop, who was appearing in his first World Series Finals title, in a repeat of their Group B clash which also went in ElShorbagy’s favour.
The duo traded points in the opening two games, but ElShorbagy’s power on the forehand side was causing numerous problems for Willstrop and the Egyptian moved three game balls up before squandering them all due to a succession of tins.
However, he held his nerve to prevail in the tie-break and recovered from 6-3 down in the second game to double his lead. The third game was all ElShorbagy at the start and, despite Willstrop clawing back points in desperation, the 25-year-old held firm to complete an 12-10, 11-9, 11-8 victory which sees him become the third Egyptian to win the title.
“To win this tournament has been a dream for so long,” said ElShorbagy.
“It’s a very emotional win. I lost some confidence in myself during the season but I feel like I bounced back this week.
“I don’t want to lose. I hate losing. This season I didn’t play with my spirit, but I’m really proud I got that back this week. It was my best squash since being World No.1. It’s been an interesting season and a few weeks ago I got my motivation back. I feel like I let a lot of people down this season, this title is especially for my mother.
“The way James has come back and played this week is amazing. It was our first final and a great honour to play against him tonight. This venue is what all other events aspire to be. To be standing here winning this title means so much to me.”
Willstrop said: “I thought I could win and went in giving it all I can. It’s an incredible group here this week, so to make the final was a great pleasure.
“I was loving every minute, apart from losing. He responded today and unified everything I tried to do. Full credit to him, he stopped me playing so there are no complaints.”