LAURA Massaro admitted it was a dream come true after winning the World Squash Championship in Penang yesterday.
The world number two from Chorley beat Egypt’s Nour El Sherbini in a gripping final to add the world title to the British Open she already holds.
Massaro, who lives in Hoghton, battled back from 4-0 and 6-2 down in the fifth and final game to win 11-7 6-11 11-9 5-11 11-9 in 68 enthralling minutes.
The 30-year-old, who was named WSA world player of the year on the eve of the championship, said it was the toughest game of her career.
“I can’t actually believe that I’m world champion,” said the 30-year-old. “Nour played so well and I was nervous throughout the whole match.
“That’s the hardest match I’ve ever played in my life, by far.”
Both players went in to the match knowing there would be a new name on the trophy after El Sherbini produced the shock result of the championships in the semi finals when she ended world number one Nicol David’s seven-year reign.
Despite being firm favourite against the unseeded 18-year-old El Sherbini – the world junior champion – Massaro had to call on all her fighting qualities to win the title and complete the world and British double.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet. it just feels amazing,” added Massaro. “The match itself was probably one of the hardest matches I’ve ever had to play, especially knowing that I wasn’t playing Nicol (David) and that there was an opportunity there that I didn’t want to miss.
“I never dreamed that I would be able to say that I was the British Open champion and the World Champion, but now I can.
“For me personally to hold the British Open and the World Open titles in the same year, it’s just dream stuff, really.
“It’s a big team effort and I’m so grateful to everyone around me and really proud that they get to share this too.”
Massaro went in to the World Championships in fine form having ended her nine-month wait for a title after winning the Windy City Open in Chicago in February.
And she showed that form in the early rounds, beating Vanessa Raj and England team-mate Jenny Duncalf without losing a game.
But her now famous fighting spirits came through in the latter rounds, especially the quarter finals where she saved four match balls against home favourite Low Wee Wern before winning 3-2 in a match that lasted 105 minutes.
She then came out on top against world number three Raneem El Welily in the semi finals.
Massaro’s win means that England will go into this summer’s Commonwealth Games with two reigning World Champions at its disposal. Sheffield’s Nick Matthew won his third World Championship in Manchester last November.
England has never previously had men’s and women’s World Champions in the same year.
“For me and Nick to both be World Champions at the same time is great. I’m so proud of what he’s achieved as well,” said Massaro. “He’s someone I really look up to so to emulate what he’s done by becoming world champion is very special.”