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TBT Season Review: El Sherbini Makes History in Malaysia

The 2015/16 season will go down in history as one of the most exciting and enthralling seasons in the history of the PSA World Tour, with a series of stunning tournaments and thrilling matches lighting up courts around the globe.

Over the past few weeks, our Throwback Thursday pieces have been looking at some of the finest matches of the season as the world’s best players went toe-to-toe in some spectacular, action-packed encounters.

This week, we’re going back to April where Egypt’s Nour El Sherbini met with then World No.1 Laura Massaro in the climactic final of the Naza PSA Women’s World Championship in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

El Sherbini had dominated the Women’s game since the turn of the year, with a first World Series crown at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions swiftly being followed by the Allam British Open title – where she became the first Egyptian female to win the prestigious trophy.

Meanwhile, Massaro’s heroics in the early part of the season had seen her rise to the summit of the World Rankings in January, but a period of mixed form, culminating in a disappointing quarter-final exit at the British Open, had put her No.1 ranking in danger with El Sherbini waiting to pounce.

Indeed, the Englishwoman took a while to get going and conceded the opening game of her tournament to experienced Mexican Samantha Teran. Massaro recovered though to win in four, and subsequent victories over Joshna Chinappa, Omneya Abdel Kawy and then a gruelling 3-2 triumph against World No.3 Raneem El Welily sent her through to a third World Championship final.

El Sherbini’s standout moment en route to the showpiece finale was a superb win over home hero and eight-time World Champion Nicol David. After scything through Donna Urquhart and Annie Au to reach the last eight, El Sherbini was pitted against the Malaysian, whom she had not lost to in the last four encounters between the pair.

Competing in the Nicol David Arena against a partizan crowd that cheered from the rafters for their national icon, El Sherbini produced a mature performance that belied her 20 years of age as she struck up a fifth successive win over the former World No.1 by a 3-1 margin – setting up a semi-final clash with compatriot Nouran Gohar, who went down in straight games to allow El Sherbini safe passage into the final.

El Sherbini and Massaro met in the 2013 final, with Massaro winning on that occasion, and it appeared as if history was to repeat itself after the 32-year-old played with pinpoint accuracy and control to go two games ahead.

But an incredible fightback from El Sherbini ensued, with the prodigious Alexandria-born talent battling to the next three games without reply to lift the Women’s Tour’s biggest prize – overtaking the great Susan Devoy, who won in 1985, to become the youngest ever winner at the age of 20 and ensuring that she would leapfrog Massaro as the new World No.1.

Check out the highlights of this spellbinding spectacle below

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