World No.1 Laura Massaro is set to compete for a second World Championship title after defeating Egyptian World No.3 Raneem El Welily in a dramatic five-game encounter to reach the final of the Naza PSA Women’s World Championship in Bukit Jalil, Malaysia.
The lead changed hands multiple times throughout a tightly-contested fixture, with neither player being able to maintain their momentum when they were on top. Massaro eased to the opener in comfortable style, before El Welily levelled in the second and almost took the third, but surrendered a five-point lead to hand Massaro the initiative.
A blistering start to the fourth from El Welily brought the match back to all square once more but Massaro again took the reigns in the fifth to amass four match balls. El Welily fought back to send the match to a tie-break, but Massaro held out and a fine boast evaded El Welily’s grasp to give the Englishwoman an 11-2, 7-11, 11-9, 6-11, 12-10 victory which ensures she will take on either Nour El Sherbini, who she beat in the 2013 final, or Nouran Gohar in the showpiece event.
“I think Raneem and I aways have battles and she’s such a good player,” said Massaro.
“If you don’t play her in exactly the right way then you get severely punished. She played well in patches, I played well in patches and in some ways it’s a fair result. I’ve played a World Championship semi-final on a tie-break against her before so I guess that was going through my mind because, if I had done it before, I knew I could do it again.
“I don’t think there was any doubt that we both wanted it. Obviously, it’s tough when you know that you’ve lost on a tie-break before and it can play in my favour a bit to know I’ve won that one. For me to lead 10-6 and for her to get it back to 10-10, I thought I was due a point, I had to get one point in five rallies.
“You just try to play each point as it comes and I went a bit tentative on my match balls.”
Massaro found her range early on and was in immaculate form, making very few errors against a slightly lethargic El Welily, who surrendered four match balls to lose the 2014 final, and the Lancastrian strode on to take the opener 11-5.
El Welily came out in a focused manner and finally managed to move the previously imperious Massaro around the court well, with a spectacular lob from behind her back helping her to claw a game back. The Egyptian No.2 made a strong start to the third and led 8-3 before Massaro’s renowned fighting spirit came to the fore and the tournament top seed rediscovered the form she showed early to fight back and regain her lead after winning eight of the next nine rallies.
An onslaught from El Welily in the fourth game saw the 27-year-old reduce the arrears yet again, with some clever shots at the front of the court catching Massaro out. A few unforced errors from El Welily then allowed Massaro to push ahead at the beginning of the fifth to build up four match balls. A gargantuan effort saw El Welily come back at her, but Massaro held her nerve to close out the victory which sends her through to a third World Championship final.
Result – Semi-Final: Naza PSA Women’s World Championship
 Laura Massaro (ENG) bt  Raneem El Welily (EGY) 3-2: 11-2, 7-11, 11-9, 6-11, 12-10 (61m)
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