England squash No.1 Laura Massaro got her title defence at the ATCO PSA Dubai World Series Finals off to a winning start.
The Chorley ace came back from a game down to defeat world champion Raneem El Welily at Emirates Golf Club in her opening group match.
Massaro, the current world No.7 is eyeing up her third successive World Series Finals crown, with the first of those coming at the expense of El Welily two years ago when they contested the final at the foot of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa –the world’s tallest building.
The group stages of the World Series Finals features a best-of-three games format and a tenacious display from 34-year-old Massaro saw her battle back from a game down to complete an 8-11 11-9 11-8 victory in 39 minutes.
“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.
“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.”
Massaro’s win saw her go top of Group B and she will line up against compatriot Sarah-Jane Perry next.