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Squash - 17. February 2008.

Surprise Final at The British National Champs

RESULTS: British National Squash Championships, National Squash Centre, Manchester

Women's semi-finals:

[3] Laura Lengthorn-Massaro (Lancs) bt [1] Tania Bailey (Lincs) 11-6, 11-9 ret. (29m)

[4] Alison Waters (Middx) bt [2] Jenny Duncalf (Yorks) 10-11 (0-2), 11-8, 11-10 (2-0), 11-5 (48m)

The surprise women's final will produce a new champion when Lancashire's Laura Lengthorn-Massaro takes on Londoner Alison Waters after the pair achieved semi-final upsets over the first and second seeds, respectively.

Third seed Laura Lengthorn-Massaro claimed a place in the women's final for the first time after favourite Tania Bailey, from Lincolnshire, retired injured after two games. Former champion Bailey arrived in Manchester having not been on court for two weeks after sustaining a ham-string injury in New York.

The Lancashire lass from Preston took the first game convincingly against her higher-ranked England team-mate, and came back from 4-6 down in the second to secure the second.

"I was feeling good and really up for the third when Tania decided to stop," said the 24-year-old world No12. "But it's fantastic to be in the final."

The pair's previous meeting took place last October in the World Open in Madrid where Bailey, despite suffering with breathing difficulties, beat her English rival in four games.

"I'm not expected to beat Tania, yet when we played in Madrid suddenly everybody assumed I'd win - and I felt really tense on court and threw the match away," explained Lengthorn-Massaro. "I was determined not to let that happen again."

Tania Bailey was distraught at not being able to complete the match: "I felt it a bit in the first game - then a couple of lunges in the second made me realise that there was a problem," explained the world No5 from Stamford.

"Even though I could have played through the pain, it's the worry of what that might do to me long-term which was of greater concern. It's really disappointing, I hate stopping in the middle of a match.

"I wouldn't necessarily have been able to beat Laura, but I'd just like to have given her a game."

Later, Londoner Alison Waters avenged her defeat in last year's final by dethroning Yorkshire's reigning champion Jenny Duncalf 10-11 (0-2), 11-8, 11-10 (2-0), 11-5 in 48 minutes.

Duncalf, the second seed from Harrogate, romped to a 7-0 lead in the opening game before her opponent, the fourth seed, replied - moving ahead to claim the first game-ball at 10-9. However, Duncalf came back to clinch the game.

Waters won the two close games that followed - and it was one-way traffic for the lower-ranked player as Waters went on to take the match and earn a place in the final for the third time in four years.

"A final in the Nationals? It can't get much better than that!" said the 23-year-old world No11 who squandered a two-love lead to lose to Duncalf in a 74-minute marathon final last year.

"In the first game it was 7-0 before I knew it! But I like to attack so I like the new scoring.

"At the beginning of the second game, I said to myself 'don't give her a 7-0 start again'."

Check out www.psalive.tv for details on web-streaming coverage of the 2008 British Nationals. For full coverage, visit the official website: www.nationalsquashchamps.co.uk

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