THERE may have been no homegrown winner at this year’s British Open, but there was no shortage of drama and quality on show at Hull’s Airco Arena.
Sheffield’s Nick Matthew – a three-time winner – and 2013 champion Laura Massaro provided hope for British success going into the weekend but, ultimately, both came up short.
Matthew, who came into the event having barely recovered from an ankle injury, was the first to see his hopes ended, going down 3-1 in his semi-final to world No 1 and the eventual winner, Mohamed Elshorbagy.
Massaro had produced a stunning performance earlier in the day, coming from two games down to depose five-time winner and world No 1 Nicol David 3-2.
It saw her go into yesterday’s final as the clear favourite against Camille Serme but, as she admitted afterwards, the previous day’s exertions may have taken too much out of her as she could do nothing to stop her French opponent running out an 11-3, 11-5, 8-11, 11-8 winner.
Massaro had almost retired earlier in the season due to fatigue and returned to top level competition in Hull after taking an extended break from the game.
“I don’t feel like I really could have given it much more out there,” said Massaro. “It was a really big win beating Nicol and obviously that match just took a little bit too much out of me.”
Serme, the first woman from France to win the title, was understandably delighted, adding: “It’s an amazing feeling, I’ve worked so hard for that win.”
Having denied Matthew the chance for a fourth title, Egypt’s Elshorbagy found himself up against defending champion Gregory Gaultier.
Given it was the top two seeds, not surprisingly, it proved to be a fiercely-contested marathon, the 24-year-old Egyptian – coached by six-time champion Jonah Barrington – eventually emerging an 11-9, 6-11, 5-11, 11-8, 11-5 winner after 94 dramatic minutes.
“It’s really emotional to win this title,” said Elshorbagy.
“It means a lot to be able to put my name on this famous trophy and end the season in such a great way.”