CAIRO (AFP) – World champion Laura Massaro’s title defence was ended in bitter-sweet fashion by her friend and team mate when she lost in four up-and-down games to a Alison Waters in the quarter-finals.
Ten days ago Waters was the number two player in England’s world team title winning squad in Niagara Falls.
On Thursday, she was a 12-14, 11-2, 11-7, 11-9 winner over the player who caused a sensation by snatching the world individual title in Penang nine months ago.
Massaro’s defeat means that Nicol David is odds on for her eighth world title after the Malaysian star beat Camille Serme, the sixth-seeded Frenchwoman, 11-9, 11-7, 13-11.
The fifth-seeded Waters beat second-seeded Massaro by attacking with a little more variety, by seeing one or two close calls go her way after trailing 7-9 in the fourth game, and by riding the extra self-belief gained from her part in the world team success.
“I definitely came here with confidence — I had a great match with (Low) Wee Wern,” Waters said, referring to her victory over the Malaysian in the deciding match of the world team final.
“I learnt about myself from that. I learn what I can do under pressure, and what I can do in tense situations mentally. I believe in myself a lot more now.”
Waters needed that self-belief after the tenacious Massaro came from 2-7 and 6-9 down to win the first game, saving a game point in the process, and then crucially again when her colleague turned a two-point deficit to a two-point advantage in the fourth game.
In those decisive moments Waters attacked well, both short and long, and Massaro had three “no let” decisions go against her.
The champion was finally ousted when Waters’ final forehand drop shot was deemed too tight and short to permit Massaro’s appeal for a let.
“Ali (Waters) was really hitting the ball hard and I was a little bit flat,” said Massaro. “It’s a fine line between trying to control the (opponent’s) pace and going a little bit negative.
“I also think I deserved at least one of those lets, and would have liked to control the ball better — but Ali was really battering the ball about. I hope she does well.”
Waters’ next challenge looks just as tough.
She will face Raneem el Weleily, the third-seeded Egyptian who reached her fourth world semi-final with an 11-7, 11-9, 11-13, 11-5 victory over her younger compatriot Nour El Tayeb.
The other semi-final will be a repeat of the 2010 world final in Sharm el-Sheikh between the top-seeded David and Omneya Abdel Kawy, who caused another upset in the seedings.
Kawy, the tenth-seeded Egyptian, recovered from 0-5 down in the first game to outplay Low Wee Wern, the seventh-seeded Malaysian, 12-10, 11-3, 11-4.
David praised Serme’s fighting qualities.
“It was a high intensity match,” she said of the 45-minute tussle. “I don’t think we stopped for air at all, because it was all go. And I had to find a lot more in that third game.”
“She was playing really strong. I had to raise my level. To get off against her by three-love takes some doing, so I’m really pleased about it.”