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Massaro and Darwish take KL Open titles

Laura Massaro and Karim Darwish are the new CIMB KL Open champions after recording straight-game wins in the finals in Kuala Lumpur.

Massaro Claims Second World Series Title After KL Win

Laura Massaro collected her second WSA World Series title after coming through to win the 2013 CIMB KL Open.

The final, held in front of packed crowds at the Berjaya Times Square in Kuala Lumpur, was without the two top seeds, with Nicol David falling to Massaro in yesterday’s semi-final, and Raneem El Weleily falling in the second round by way of Natalie Grinham.

Massaro, world ranked No.3, showed excellent form right from the first round, in which she defeated experiencedLatasha Khan of the USA.  She then beat in-form Line Hansen in the second round, following the Dane’s upset ofRachael Grinham in their opening clash.

Her run continued with a strong four-game win over Irishwoman Madeline Perry to set up her excellent defeat of seven-time world champion, Nicol David.

Her opponent in today’s final will also be thrilled at a World Series final finish.  Alison Waters had twelve months out of the game with an Achilles injury in 2011, and spent much of last season rebuilding her form and climbing back up the world rankings.  She held the No.35 spot at this time last year but has since recovered to sit at No.5 in the world.

Waters faced a tricky opening tie against Joey Chan of Hong Kong, whom she beat in a frantic five-games.  Her form steadied as she beat Australian Kasey Brown in four games in the second round, and saw an excellent win against higher seed Nour El Sherbini in a five-game thriller to reach the semis.

A semi-final contest against Joelle King swung Waters’ way with the help of two tie-break deciders, to allow the Englishwoman her first World Series final since 2010’s Australian Open.

The first World Series final since that Australian Open to hold two British finalists, both Massaro and Waters were up for the challenge, and it was Massaro who took the first game with by a narrow 11-9 margin.

As the match progressed Massaro’s good form continued to be evident, whilst Waters, having played three more games than her opponent this week, began to slow.

Still competitive, Massaro broke away earlier in the second game to double her lead 11-7, before completing the win in the third to record her 11th WSA World Tour title, and second World Series title of her career.

Massaro tweeted to fans and followers after the match, saying: “I won!! KL Open champion. My 2nd ever World Series title, so excited!  Massive thanks to everyone who helped me achieve my win this week! You know who you are! Couldn’t do it without you!”

After an excellent campaign, the English pair will now focus on the next World Series event on the WSA calendar, the Allam British Open in May.  With the English contingent proving strong in Malaysia, hopes will be high heading into the event on home soil.

Darwish Celebrates KL Open Double

Egypt’s Karim Darwish successfully reclaimed the CIMB KL Open Squash Championship title he first won two years ago when he beat fellow countryman Mohamed El Shorbagy in today’s final of the PSA World Tour International 50event at Berjaya Times Square in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.

A close battle was inevitable: Darwish was the top seed, but second seed El Shorbagy had recently leap-frogged his older compatriot in the world rankings; Darwish led the career head-to-head tally 7-2, but it was El Shorbagy who had triumphed in the most recent encounter, in December’s PSA World Championship in Qatar.

“The opening exchanges were tight, lengthy rallies followed by a couple of shorter rallies,” explained tournament spokesmanAndrew Cross. “At six-all, Shorbagy completely missed a return of serve to give Karim a one point lead. A couple of lets follow but in the next rally Karim punished Shorbagy with a low cross court backhand. Shorbagy responded with a forehand drop of his own and was awarded a stroke in the next rally to level at eight-all.

“Karim regained his lead but missed a forehand volley which he was slightly reaching for to tie again at nine-all. It was Karim who got to game ball first after Shorbagy missed a backhand drop and on game ball again clipped the top of the tin with a backhand drop.”

Darwish, the 31-year-old world No6 from Cairo, went on to build up a two-game lead, but fell behind in the third as 22-year-old El Shorbagy took the initiative. But it was short-lived as Darwish took advantage of a series of errors by his younger opponent before moving on to take the title 11-9, 12-10, 11-7 after 54 minutes.

“I had to play extremely well – last time he beat me in three,” said a relieved Darwish as he collected his trophy after his 23rd PSA Tour title success. “He is really tough to play.

“I’m happy that my wife and son are here – it’s his first time watching which has obviously brought me a bit of luck so I will have to take him with me again!”

El Shorbagy added: “Karim deserved to win – all credit to him for putting me under more pressure.

“I would like to thank CIMB for their support in this event, and the referees who have done a good job. Hopefully I’ll be back again.”

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