Massaro and Shabana dominate U.S. Open Finals
Laura Massaro and Amr Shabana are the Delaware Investments U.S. Open Champions after both turned in dominant performances in tonight’s finals at Drexel University’s Daskalakis Athletic Centre in Philadelphia.
Massaro came back strongly to dominate affairs after Kasey Brown had taken the first game, while Shabana was in scintillating form against a struggling opponent after the first two games were shared.
 Laura Massaro (Eng) bt  Kasey Brown (Aus) 5/11, 11/5, 11/3, 11/5 (56m)
 Amr Shabana (Egy) bt  Nick Matthew (Eng) 11/9, 8/11, 11/2, 11/4 (51m)
Laura Massaro made a good enough start to the Delaware Investments U.S. Open women’s final, as she and Kasey Brown traded patient rallies to open proceedings on the glass court at the Daskalakis Athletic Centre at Drexel University in Philadelphia.
Getti ng to two-all in that opening game took a few minutes, and you certainly couldn’t pick a winner at that point. But as the game wore on it was the Australian who began to take charge of the rallies more, and, helped by several unforced errors from Massaro, she moved ahead to 6/3, then 9/4, and took the lead 11/5 with a dropshot that left Massaro a long way back in the court.
After that though, the fifth seed from Lancashire was, in truth, dominant. The rallies were still there, the movement and shotmaking from both were good, but it was Brown who was being rushed, and Massaro who was making the most of the openings she waited patiently for.
That new favourite shot, the deceptive little crosscourt flick from the front left corner was working well, and more than a few points were earned with it.
The third saw her lead 9/1 in a flash with Brown hitting tin after tin. The first two games took 14 and 19 minutes, 11/3 in the third came after just 7.
Brown did lead the fourth, 2/1, but Massaro was soon back on top, controlling play again as she went ahead 5/2, then 10/4.
Kasey saved one match ball with a straight drive, but Laura put paid to hopes of a comeback with a another wrongfooting boast, and the new U.S. Open champion raiser her hand in the air …
“Kasey come out strong in the first and I just couldn’t get in front of her, she was putting me under pressure and I was making mistakes. It was the sort of match where whoever got in front was winning, so I really had to work on it to get in front from the second game.
“At the start I didn’t feel as comfortable as I had in the previ0us matches, my legs felt heavy and I felt a little sluggish, but I just told myself I had to forget that. I got a few good rallies together and I felt good and played well after that.
“I can’t believe I won, it’s been a great year for me with three major victories. The Nationals is always up there and I was very proud to be the first Lancashire woman to win it, beating Nicol in Cleveland was big, but this is the biggest of them, a major event on a glass court, they don’t come much bigger than this!
The Egyptian third seed made a tremendous start, thrilling the Philadelphia crowd with a series of winning shots that left Matthew struggling. Coming backk from 6/1 down was a tall order, but the Englishman almost made it, getting to 8/9 but then having a let decision turned into a no let as Shabana appealed to the video ref. Shabana then took the game 11/9 on another winning volley drop after 19 minutes.
The second was a carbon copy in reverse – Matthew dominant now, cutting off Shabana’s shots to race to an 8/1 lead, only to see Shabana fight his way back. From 9/4 down Shabana rediscovered his touch, got to 8/9 and this time it was he who was annoyed not to complete the comeback as Matthew levelled 11/8.
Shabana was totally dominant in both of them, reeling off winning volley drops and dropshots almost at will. Matthew was by now clearly struggling with his movement and simply had no answer, scoring just five more points and three of those were late in the fourth game.
There was no big celebration as Shabana put in one last dropshot, but the Prince of Cairo will have felt deep satisfaction at winning another major title. Matthew will put this one down to experience, and he’ll be back.
“It was a good match, and it’s such a relief to win a major tournament again. It’s been a tough couple of years, at times I thought I might never win again but I’ve been playing well this week and my body held up which is the important thing.
“I’m just glad you were all here to witness me winning again and I hope I can carry on playing well and win some more!”
“I’m disappointed that my body let met down a little tonight, I was struggling to push off on my foot, but I gave it a good go and you have to be good enough to cope with these problems. It feels different from coming off court having given everything you have, but that’s not taking anything away from Amr, he played really well.
“His shots were firing in from all over tonight, and even at 100% I would have been struggling to cope with him, he was all over me by the end, and could have probably played some of those dropshots with his right hand, they were so good!
Preview, for posterity
First up is the women’s final, with the fifth and sixth seeds battling it out for the crown.
Laura Massaro and Kasey Brown may not be the players most expected to see in the final – not at the start of the event, at any rate – but as the only players to have beaten world number one Nicol David this year, it’s somehow fitting that they should contest this major final.
For both it would be their biggest-ever WISPA win, Massaro has won eight times, Brown eleven, but both have other achievements to call on, notably Massaro’s Nation Championship win and Brown’s World Teams and Commonwealth medals.
They have met five times, Brown winning three of those but Massaro taking the honours last time they met. On this year’s matches they each have a four-game win, both taking 65 minutes to complete. A close on? You bet …
Nick Matthew and Amr Shabana have both won this title before, in 2007 and 2009, but the paycheque for today’s winner will be bigger than either of those, and he will also take the momentum of winning a PSA World Series event into the hectic autumn schedule that is coming up.
The Englishman leads 10-8 in PSA meetings (11-8 overall), including each of the last three, all in semi-finals of World Series events in New York, Richmond and Manchester. It’s Shabana who leads on PSA titles though, 26 compared to Matthew’s 20, and four World Opens to Matthew’s one.
Of course, they should have contested the final of the World Series Finals at a blustery Queen’s club back in January. The winner will only get one trophy tonight, but that will be enough to be going on with …