England’s Laura Massaro was crowned PSA Dubai World Series Finals Champion after she defeated World No.3 Raneem El Welily in a dramatic five-game thriller that brought the week-long season-ending tournament to a close in Dubai.
After downing World No.1 Nour El Sherbini in the last four to avenge last month’s World Championship final defeat Massaro, the World No.2, continued to play some of her best squash in what was a back-and-forth encounter to come through and collect one of the biggest titles of her career.
“I never feel that you really have a plan when you play Raneem,” said Massaro.
“I feel like it’s whether she’s on fire or not, and I’m just running around to keep the ball in play.
“But I’m so pleased with my form all week. It was really tough coming off the back of a loss at the World Championship, and it was a big effort to keep training after that. I’m just so pleased that it’s paid off – you go through so much pain and hard work as a squash player. Moments like this make it all worth it.”
The first game saw the pair trade points back and forth as they battled for control of the court, with El Welily edging it 11-9, before Massaro altered her tactics and played with greater purpose and depth in the second, taking El Welily’s prodigious shot-making skills out of contention.
With the scoreboard tied it was El Welily, upping her game to play with impeccable precision as she slotted winner after winner, who went back in front before momentum swung back in favour of Massaro during a nervy and tense forth game tie-break. El Wleily had saved two game balls at 8-10 down courtesy of a series of improbable winners before a perfect boast saw Massaro draw level for the second time.
The decisive fifth saw Massaro get out to a string 4-1 lead before she played a sweetly struck backhand winner, akin to the trademark shots of El Welily, that set her up for the sprint finish and with the line in sight she hammered home to take the fifth 11-5 and claim the title.
“I told myself it was the final match of the season, and coming on for that fifth game I just told myself it was one game to go,” she said.
“From the beginning of the fifth and particularly right at the very end I was just thinking If I hit my targets then everything else follows on from there.
“I’m feeling physically in the best shape of my life and mentally, when I’m enjoying my squash then everything else flows. If I’m winning titles and making finals of World Champs then I must be close to my best.
“In the fifth game I definitely thought to myself, right finish the year with a title, I just wanted to get my name on a trophy and there was a big reward at the end of it so I’m really happy that it came off.”
Victory sees Massaro collect over $40,000 in prize money, the single largest prize ever awarded to a female squash player, as part of a tournament that became just the fourth major event o the calendar to offer prize money parity.
“It’s been a privilege to play here all week,” said the 32-year-old.
“We feel a little bit like superstars, we’ve been spoilt, the court is amazing, the venue is amazing, Dubai is amazing. To have equal prize money for the women and to be on an level par with the men in these big events now, the women feel like we deserve it, and I hope that today showed that we do.”
 Laura Massaro (ENG) bt  Raneem El Welily (EGY) 3-2: 9-11, 11-6, 5-11, 12-10, 11-5 (62m)