World No.1 Laura Massaro got her bid to win a third PSA World Series title sos far this season off to a winning start as she dealt with both the pressure of a partizan crowd and the weight of being favourite to down crowd favourite Olivia Blatchford in the first round of the 2016 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York’s stunning Grand Central Terminal.
Massaro controlled the first two games to open up a routine 2-0 lead on the scoreboard before Blatchford, playing without pressure, relaxed her wrist and began to let fly, using her backhand drop to devastating effect as she hit 10 outright winners to take the third game against the run of play.
The charismatic local hero continued to play fearless attacking squash in the fourth but, having recomposed herself and adapted her tactics, Massaro managed to stamp out the momentum and secure her place in the second round courtesy of an 11-6, 11-3, 5-11, 11-7 win.
“I thought I played well in the first two game but she really surprised me in the third and I was still trying to work out how to change my game when she won it and it was certainly unexpected,” said Massaro.
“It’s never easy playing against a player who has the crowd behind them but it’s also great to see the crowd come out in numbers to support the players.
“I ended 2015 in one of the best runs of form in my career and to be back winning major titles agin is really pleasing so hopefully I can keep it going throughout 2016 now.”
Speaking after the match Blatchford said: “It was a fantastic experience to play in front of the crowd on this great stage and to take a game off Laura, who is a tremendous player and the picture of professionalism, was the icing on the cake.”
 Laura Massaro (ENG) bt [Q] Olivia Blatchford (USA) 3-1: 11-6, 11-3, 5-11, 11-7 (38m)