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Camille Serme

World Series Finals: Day One - As It Happens

We're live at Emirates Golf Club for the opening day of season-ending ATCO PSA Dubai World Series Finals which brings together the world's top eight male and female player for a thrilling week of top-class squash.

The group stages begin today as players battle in a best-of-three games format, with two more days of group stage action to follow before the knockout, best of five semi-finals and finals, which take place on June 8 and 9, respectively.

You can watch LIVE coverage on SQUASHTV and Eurosport Player or follow our live scoring page.

Here's the SQUASHTV & Eurosport Player Order of Play
(All times are local GMT+4)

Men's Group A

Men’s Group B

Women's Group A

Women's Group B

Serme Begins Campaign with Tight Win over Perry

Camille Serme (right) v Sarah-Jane Perry (left)

French World No.5 Camille Serme overcame England’s Sarah-Jane Perry in the first match of this year’s ATCO PSA Dubai World Series Finals after overturning a match ball to take a 2-1 victory in 50 minutes.

Serme, the 29-year-old from Creteil, reached the semi-finals of this tournament last season and had beaten Perry in six of their previous eight matches but this was their first time competing against each other in a best-of-three games format.

It was all Perry in the opening stages as she controlled the pace of the match to surge into a 9-4 lead in the opening game and she held off a fightback from Serme to take the first game 11-8.

But a loss of accuracy from the tall Englishwoman then followed as Serme found her range to go 9-7 but Perry took the next three points to go match ball up and put herself on the verge of victory.

Serme came back though to level and, after claiming the second, the French player kept her focus at the crucial end of the third to edge ahead to an 8-11, 12-10, 12-10 victory which sees her move into the lead of Group B in the women’s event.

“It feels like last year, every match was hard and I saved a few match balls as I won the pool matches,” said Serme afterwards.

“I feel lucky to be honest, Sarah-Jane played really well and I’m just happy because we had a good fight in a good spirit and I’m lucky to be through at the end.

“When you’re 1-0 down it’s more stressful [in a best of three format]. You don’t want to give too many points to your opponent but at the same time it’s hard not to attack and play your game.

“I felt like Sarah-Jane was controlling me a lot at the back of the court and I don’t really know how I managed to win this one.

“This is my third time in Dubai and it’s amazing to play here. I’m very happy to be in the top eight again.”

Result: Women’s Group B
[6] Camille Serme (FRA) bt [8] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 2-1: 8-11, 12-10, 12-10 (50m)

Rösner Storms Past Struggling Gawad

Simon Rösner (left) v Karim Abdel Gawad (right)

German No.1 Simon Rösner put maximum points on the board after a dominant victory over former World No.1 Karim Abdel Gawad, with the Egyptian struggling with a shoulder injury which saw him unable to match his opponent’s ferocity.

Rösner and Gawad had both reached the semi-finals of last year’s event and it was the former who dominated much of the match as he blew away the former World Champion to build up a 10-6 lead in the opener.

A couple of unforced errors seemed to shake Rösner’s confidence a bit as the World No.5 took his foot off the gas and Gawad came back to send the game to a tie-break.

Rösner steadied the ship though to prevail in the tie-break and he dropped just six points in the second game as Gawad began to struggle increasingly with his shoulder problem and the ‘Baby-Faced Assassin’ conceded the final rally to hand the win to his opponent.

“I managed to play my game, I took the ball early so I didn’t give him that much time because we all know how dangerous he is if he has time,” said Rösner.

“I just tried to take that away from him and also use my front corners which worked really well today. It was a good start which is good for the confidence the rest of the week and hopefully I can keep up the momentum.

“I actually quite like the [best of three] system because it adds a bit more intensity to the game even though some players might be of a different opinion. I think that format has a future in our game, maybe not at all tournaments, but in a few selected ones.

“I quite like it, matches are maybe a little bit shorter but the intensity is probably even higher at times.”

Result: Men's Group B
[4] Simon Rösner (GER) bt [8] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 2-0: 12-10, 11-6 (28m)

Massaro Gets Title Defence Under Way with Win over El Welily

Laura Massaro (right) v Raneem El Welily (left)

Defending women’s champion Laura Massaro got her title defence off to a winning start, but had to come from behind to defeat World Champion Raneem El Welily at Emirates Golf Club.

The match was a repeat of the 2015/16 World Series Finals where Massaro won a thrilling five-game battle to form part of a run which has seen the Englishman now win five of her last six matches against the World No.2.

It was El Welily who had the better of the match in the opening exchanges as the Egyptian came out on top of some short rallies that rendered Massaro unable to move her opponent around the court.

Massaro displayed her famous tenacity in the second game as she dug in to level while she had a lot of success down the backhand side in particular as she ironed out any errors and hit a series of winners.

After taking the second, Massaro built up four match balls, of which El Welily was able to save two.

But she was powerless to stop Massaro settling the match in style, with the 34-year-old hitting an incredible behind the back winner to catch El Welily out and the former World No.1 will join World No.5 Camille Serme at the summit of Group B as she eyes up a third successive World Series Finals trophy.

“This best of three plays with your mind a little bit,” said Massaro, who beat World No.1 Nour El Sherbini in the final of last year’s event.

“It was such a tight match and I thought I needed to nick a game. Even if I lost the next one at least nicking a game would put one on the board.

“I remember last year, SJ [Perry] needed to win a game or something funny [to qualify] so every game counts and that’s all I was thinking. In that third I thought that after a few hard rallies it was getting tough for both of us. I just tried to keep my foot on the gas.

“I didn’t think I would win it last year to be honest, everyone keeps saying ‘how do you feel about three times?’ and I can’t believe I won it twice. It really is one match at a time and as [Mohamed] ElShorbagy said yesterday, every match that you play can be like a World Series final and you prepare as if it is a final.

“It’s nice to know you’re coming back for three days in a row regardless of results.”

Result: Women’s Group B
[4] Laura Massaro (ENG) bt [2] Raneem El Welily (EGY) 2-1: 8-11, 11-9, 11-8 (39m)

Farag Masterclass Downs Gaultier

Ali Farag

A sublime display from Egyptian World No.2 Ali Farag saw him defeat three-time World Series Finals champion Gregory Gaultier as he took a 2-0 triumph in 31 minutes to make a winning start in Group B.

The pair met on the opening day of last year’s tournament as he ended Gaultier’s 27-match unbeaten run and he was simply superb as he unsettled the former World No.1 and picked up everything Gaultier threw at him.

Farag’s retrieval ability into the front corners in particular prevented Gaultier from being able to put him away and he closed out an 11-9, 11-8 victory to draw level with Germany’s Simon Rösner at the top of Group B.

“I was always under the cosh and he was always attacking, it’s what he does best,” said Farag.

“I never felt comfortable on there, he kept me running around all four corners and I’m just glad I dug in and never gave up.

“I was a bit tired but I could see he was tired as well so it was about whoever wanted it more was going to win it in the end and I’m very lucky to get it.

“Everyone here is in the top eight, everyone is a top, top player and the want to win a prestigious title. You can see already in the first four matches that everyone is doing their absolute best, so I’m just going to do the same and hopefully I can lift that title with my wife [Nour El Tayeb].”

Result: Men’s Group B
[2] Ali Farag (EGY) bt [7] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 2-0: 11-9, 11-8 (31m)

El Sherbini Conquers King

Nour El Sherbini

Newly crowned PSA Women’s Player of the Year Nour El Sherbini laid down a marker for the rest of the tournament after a sterling display from the two-time World Champion saw her open up with a 2-0 victory over New Zealand’s Joelle King.

World No.1 El Sherbini, who reached the final of this event last year, finished top of the PSA Women’s World Series Standings courtesy of four World Series titles throughout the 2017/18 season and she reaffirmed her status as the world’s best female player after downing the dangerous World No.4 King in just 22 minutes.

King tried her best to play positive, attacking shots throughout the match but El Sherbini counterattacked to return the shots with the interest and, after taking a 12-10 tie-break victory in game one, the Egyptian pulled away to an 11-7 triumph in the second to get her tournament off to a winning start.

“Joelle’s been playing so well and she has come back after the [achilles] injury so well and has beaten a lot of top players,” said El Sherbini.

“It’s the first match and you could play Joelle in the final of a World Series event, so it’s hard to play her in the first round. I’m glad I fired myself up and won the first game.

“It really means a lot to finish the season on top and I’ve never won this title before. I reached the final last year but I never had a chance to win it. I’m going to give it 100 per cent this time and hopefully it’s going to go my way.

“It’s always special playing in the Middle East, there are a lot of Egyptians and a lot of Arab people supporting us so it’s really special to have them cheering for us.”

Result: Women’s Group A
[1] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt [5] Joelle King (NZL) 2-0: 12-10, 11-7 (22m)

ElShorbagy Exacts Revenge on Rodriguez

Mohamed ElShorbagy (left) v Miguel Angel Rodriguez (right)

Defending champion Mohamed ElShorbagy avenged his defeat to Colombia’s Miguel Angel Rodriguez in the final of last month’s Allam British Open in a match that saw both players wow spectators at Emirates Golf Club with some blistering rallies throughout the 49-minute clash.

Rodriguez became the first South American ever to win a World Series title when he stunned ElShorbagy in Hull’s Airco Arena in one of the most dramatic matches every to light up the sport’s longest-running tournament.

The pair picked up where they left off in Hull as they went toe-to-toe in some high-octane exchanges and both players took a game apiece to set up an exciting third game showdown.

It was neck and neck in the early stages of the third game until ElShorbagy rattled off four points in succession to race away from 3-3 and he held onto that lead to complete an 11-8, 9-11, 11-7 victory which sees him kick off Group A with a win.

“He’s been playing really well recently,” said ElShorbagy, who was crowned PSA Men’s Player of the Year last night at the PSA Awards dinner.

“Whatever happened today, it was never going to change that he is the British Open champion and what he did was great and he did his country proud. He’s a such nice guy and we’re really great friends.

“I’m just happy we played another great battle, our matches have been clean and fair and today was another one.”

Result: Men’s Group A
[1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [6] Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 2-1: 11-8, 9-11, 11-7 (49m)

El Tayeb Cruises Past Gohar

Nour El Tayeb

Egyptian World No.3 Nour El Tayeb cruised to a 2-0 victory over World No.6 Nouran Gohar in just 13 minutes to claim maximum points after her first ever appearance at the prestigious World Series Finals.

El Tayeb claimed World Series titles at the U.S. Open and Windy City Open earlier in the campaign to book her place at the season-ending tournament and her performance today was reminiscent of her displays in both Philadelphia and Chicago as she launched an onslaught of winners against Gohar who could do very little to retaliate.

The 25-year-old from Cairo won 11-5, 11-4 to ensure she’s in top form heading into tomorrow’s match against World No.1 Nour El Sherbini.

“I was so nervous before the whole tournament and I didn’t know how to prepare because it’s Ramadan and there are always family gatherings,” said El Tayeb.

“I even have Ali’s [husband Farag] family here watching so it’s like a vacation. Maybe this helped me relax a bit for today’s match, Nouran is the only top 10 player I hadn’t beaten this year, I lost to her in the first tournament so I’m happy I was able to do it in the last day or two of the season.

“She’s a tough competitor and if I gave her any chances she was going to come back into it. I’ve lost to her more than I’ve won so I’m very happy to get this win.

“Last year I came with Ali to watch him and I was very jealous I wasn’t on there so I worked very hard to be here and I’m very excited to be in Dubai.”

Result: Men’s Group A
[3] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt [7] Nouran Gohar (EGY) 2-0: 11-5, 11-4 (13m)

Matthew Kicks Off Final Tournament with Victory over Momen

Nick Matthew

37-year-old veteran Nick Matthew began the final tournament of his professional squash career with a superb 2-0 victory over Egypt’s World No.4 Tarek Momen which has sent the Englishman to the summit of Group A ahead of World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy.

Matthew thought he’d played his last professional match after bowing out of last month’s Allam British Open due to a shock defeat to German qualifier Raphael Kandra which saw him finish ninth on the PSA Men’s World Series Standings – one place outside the top eight, which would have guaranteed him a spot in Dubai.

But a hamstring injury suffered by World No.3 Marwan ElShorbagy saw ‘The Wolf’ called up at the last minute and he grasped the opportunity with both hands today as he put him a professional performance to overcame Momen three weeks after beating the Egyptian in the opening round of the British Open.

“It’s been a very topsy-turvy couple of weeks,” said Matthew.

“I desperately wanted to go out here and have my swansong on this stage. I felt like I could have done a little bit better, losing out in the second round of the British Open was disappointing in my backyard.

“I made peace with it when Miguel went on and won. If he’d made the quarters and edged me out by five points then maybe it would have been ‘what if’ but when someone wins a tournament like that and goes to six in the rankings then you have to hold your hands up and say it’s incredibly well-played.

“I had made my peace and then I got the call!”

Result: Men’s Group A
[8] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [4] Tarek Momen (EGY) 2-0: 11-8, 11-9 (31m)

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