Laura Massaro made a dramatic exit from the PSA Dubai World Series Finals after losing in straight games to Camille Serme at Emirates Golf Club on Thursday.
Chasing a hat-trick of Dubai titles, the world No 7 from England took to the court on Day 3 high on confidence. But she failed to replicate the form from her previous two wins at the US$160,000 (Dh587,600) PSA World Tour Series.
Serme had to win to progress from the group stage, and the Frenchwoman did exactly what was required. In fact she needed just 22 minutes to defeat Massaro 11-7, 11-5.
It was a bad day for another Englishwoman, Sarah-Jane Perry, who was beaten in 20 minutes by Raneem El Welily. The Egyptian world No 2, who went down to Massaro on the opening day, crushed Perry 11-6, 11-9 to move on top of Group B.
For Serme, who was beaten by El Welily on the previous day, it was a remarkable result to bounce back from the brink.
“I’m very happy with the way I played, I managed to relax and play my shots better than the other days,” the world No 5 said. “Laura is such a fighter, she loves playing here and she never gives up, so until the very last point I didn’t want to give her anything.
“I was a bit upset with myself after losing yesterday, then on the other side I was like ‘you still have a chance, be positive!’.
"I called my coach and he was telling me what went wrong in my match yesterday, but you have to focus on the positive side and refocus the next day,” she said.
El Welily and Serme moved above Massaro on a better game record after all three players finished on two wins each.
“Obviously I’m happy to reach the semi-finals,” El Welily said. “I feel for Laura because she won the first two games. She didn’t do anything wrong there, but [she] didn’t qualify.”
In the men’s event, Simon Rosner made it three wins on the trot to top Group B and earn a second successive semi-final spot in Dubai.
The German continued his good run of form in the season-ending tournament with a resounding 11-8, 12-10 victory over Frenchman Greg Gaultier.
Rosner went into the match having booked his place in the last four. Gaultier had already been eliminated.
“If you play a match when there’s nothing to win, where everything is decided already, it’s so difficult to play at 100 per cent,” Rosner pointed out. “I’ve got a semi-final to play tomorrow and he knew beforehand that he was out, so it’s never easy to play matches like that.
“I feel a bit sorry for him that he lost out after the second day because we’re good friends on tour. But I guess that’s how the sport is.”
While the group matches were played in the best-of-three format, the knockout phase will involve best-of-five matches.
“In the best of five, if you go in from the first game you will get killed, and it will be difficult to get through a whole five-setter,” world No 5 Rosner said.
“So, obviously you put the pressure from the start and play with a different mindset. The first game, you try to get your rhythm, but I quiet like the longer format.”
Joining Rosner is Ali Farag, who got the better of Karim Abdel Gawad 11-5, 11-5 in 21 minutes in an all-Egypt clash.