Laura Massaro ‘at her best’ as she lifts PSA World Series Finals title; Gregory Gaultier wins men’s final

There was no such drama in the men’s final though, as world champion Gregory Gaultier brought Australian Cameron Pilley’s impressive run to an end with an 11-4, 11-5, 8-11, 11-6 win, Ahmed Rizvi reports.

Laura Massaro of England in action against Raneem El Welily of Egypt during the final in the Women's Singles at the Professional Squash Association (PSA) World Series Finals in Dubai, 28 May 2016.  EPA/ALI HAIDER
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DUBAI // About 14 months ago, feeling mentally and physically exhausted following a rollercoaster 2014, Laura Massaro decided to take a break from the sport.

For the first two weeks, it felt great and she wondered if she should announce her retirement from squash. But a week later, boredom gradually started setting in and by the end of the fourth week, she was wondering what she was going to do next.

Still, she took another week off, but then went to watch compatriot Nick Matthew at a match and decided she was not ready to leave the sport yet.

On Saturday night, as Massaro lifted the winner’s trophy after edging Raneem El Welily 9-11, 11-6, 5-11, 12-10, 11-5 in the women’s final of the World Series Finals here and pocketed the biggest prize cheque of her career, US$42,000 (Dh154,272), the 32-year-old Lancastrian was clearly glad she changed her mind about retirement.

“If I am winning titles like this and making finals of World Championships, then I must be quite close to my best, if not my best,” said Massaro, who was the runner-up at the World Championship last month in Malaysia as well as the British and Hong Kong Open in 2015.

Related: Laura Massaro holds her nerve to make final of World Series Finals in Dubai

Read also: Nour El Sherbini advances to semi-finals of PSA World Series Finals in Dubai

Mentally, Massaro certainly seems to be at her peak. She showed that in her semi-final win over world champion Nour El Sherbini on Friday. And she showed it again yesterday.

Down 1-2 in the best-of-five final, the Briton raced to a 7-3 lead in the fourth game, but then El Welily hit some stunning winners in succession and the scores were suddenly level at 10-10.

There was no panic though, and Massaro prevailed in that fourth game to force a decider. It was smooth sailing from thereon.

“Felt like I served for the fifth game and all of the tension just went out of my body,” Massaro said. “It was sort of, ‘Just relax, it’s one game … let’s just go for it’.

“Considering that I had a bit of a rough patch through the middle of the match, I felt like I played the fifth almost as good as the first game. So I was quite happy with that.”

There was no such drama in the men’s final though, as world champion Gregory Gaultier brought Australian Cameron Pilley’s impressive run to an end with an 11-4, 11-5, 8-11, 11-6 win.

It was Gaultier’s third World Series Finals title and the win puts the Frenchman in rarefied company. He has equalled Peter Nicol’s haul of three titles and only the Pakistan legend Jansher Khan, with four, has more.

“This is the first week I am playing without tape on my ankle,” said Gaultier, who was out for two months after tearing a ligament in his right ankle in January.

“I am glad my squash is back and I finish this first part of 2016, which was a bit of a nightmare for me, at least on a good note.”

arizvi@thenational.ae

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